Saved From the Horrible Pit

Saved From the Horrible Pit

Scripture: Psalms 40:1-3, Jeremiah 38:1-13
Date: 07/15/2000 
Many times in the Bible God's people have been put into a pit. Joseph's brothers put him in a pit. David writes about being sunk in the mire. This sermon focuses on the experience of the prophet Jeremiah who was thrown into a pit. We are in a pit. Jesus came down to our pit and lift us out.

Three Steps to Heaven (PB) by Joe Crews

Three Steps to Heaven (PB) by Joe Crews
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Good morning. I remember when I was living with my father; in Christmas 1968 we were staying with Dad during the holidays and one of our neighbors on the island where my Dad lived; my Dad lived in what they call the Sunset Islands in Miami Beach. A lot of very wealthy people, celebrities live there. A family named Mackel had a daughter whose name was Barbara Jane Mackel and she was kidnapped while up in Georgia. It was in [the] national news. I don’t know if anyone here remembers that. I remember it because we knew who the family was. They asked for a $500,000 ransom. They took Barbara, 20 years old, and they put her in a pit in the ground, basically in a box, where she was left for 80 hours until the ransom was paid and she was rescued.

Now can you image being stuck down in a hole in the ground for 80 hours? They did give her; she was tied. They did have a little fan to blow some air on her and a little air pump that was supposed to bring air down from the top into the hole to keep her from dying. But then after about a day the batteries died on the fan and it became suffocating and the air was foul inside this box. Nobody was there to hear your pleas. She had a straw where for a while she had some water to drink until it was gone. Eighty hours. What is that? Just three-and-a-half days, huh? It’s a long time to lay in one position tied up in a box, almost buried alive, wondering if anybody would discover you; wondering if the kidnapper might forget about you or get killed or not tell your family or the authorities where you were. Down in the pit. Even more recently there was a man in New York City, he was a millionaire tuxedo maker in New York City, Harvey Weinstein, who was kidnapped.

He was put down in a hole in the ground for 12 days in the dark. He said that his priorities were reorchestrated after being in that pit for 12 days. You start thinking about everything you can possibly think about to keep from going insane. Thought about his childhood and all the reasons he had to live. Trying to bring back any positive memory. Struggled with terrible depression down there in that pit wondering if he would ever be found. It’s awful to have that feeling that you’re buried alive, trapped down in a hole in the ground. You know I discovered; I was surprised to discover how often in the Bible God’s people have been thrown in a pit and how often in the Bible there are prayers and praise about being delivered from “the pit.” Just a few scriptures. Genesis 37:24 Joseph’s brothers took him and cast him into a pit. And the pit was empty and there was no water in it. Psalm 69:1-2, “Save me, O my God; for the waters have come up to my neck.

I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing. I have come unto deep waters where the floods overflow me.” Sunk down in the mire. Jeremiah wrote in Lamentations 3:52-56, “Mine enemy has without cause hunted me down like a bird. They silence my life in the pit. They threw stones at me. The waters flowed over my head. I’ve said, ‘I am cut off.’ I called on your name, O Lord, from the lowest pit. You have heard my voice: do not hide your ear from my sign or from my cry for help.” Now Jeremiah knew what he was talking about. Turn with me, please, to the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah 38 and we’ll probably start with verse 3. I want to give you the context of the story. And this little story about Jeremiah is the catalyst for our study this morning, Saved from the Horrible Pit. Jeremiah was a prophet of God. At this time he’s in his fifties and he was preaching to the leaders of Israel, King Zedekiah was the king, that they should surrender to the Babylonians who were now outside besieging the city. There’s a terrible famine in the city. Jeremiah speaking for the Lord said, “If you will humble yourself and surrender God will spare your lives.

You will be allowed to prosper; you’ll succeed. But if you continue rebelling you’re going to be captured. You’re going to be killed with the sword and famine. So humble yourselves.” Now the reason that he told them this is King Zedekiah had vowed to King Nebuchadnezzar in the name of the Lord, he had made a promise, that he would pay tribute and they would be subservient to Nebuchadnezzar. God was punishing Israel for forgetting about the Lord. And He said, “Look, if you’re not going to respect my authority then you’ll find out what it is to serve a tough master.” So Nebuchadnezzar secured, exacted a vow from the king in the name of Jehovah that he would pay his taxes and they would obey his laws. They were not required to embrace idolatry. They were still given their freedom of religion. But the advisors around Zedekiah; Zedekiah is probably the most weak, wishy-washy, vacillating king that Judea ever had. He went along with whatever the last person talking to him said. Just a spineless king. And when the advisors around him said, “You don’t need to pay taxes. Rebel against Babylon,” he rebelled. And he was being manipulated by his advisors.

Well, Jeremiah was telling the people to humble themselves and surrender. They did not like that and the princes and leaders around the king, the politicians who didn’t want to pay the taxes anymore because it weighed heavily upon them, they got fed up with Jeremiah saying that they should surrender. They figured, “He’s a traitor. He ought to be executed.” That’s where our story takes up. Jeremiah told them in verse 3, “Thus says the Lord, This city shall be given to the hand of the king of Babylon’s army, which will take it. Therefore the princes said to the king (Zedekiah), Please, let this man be put to death: for he is weakening the hands of the men of war that remain in the city, and the hands of all the people, by speaking such words to them: for this man does not seek the welfare of this people, but their harm.” Now here you’ve got another example of a conflict between those who are speaking for God and those who are telling the people what they want to hear. “Then Zedekiah the king said, Oh well, he’s in your hand: the king can’t do anything against you.” Wasn’t a very strong king. “So they took Jeremiah,” and they figured, “Rather than kill him we’ll just put him in a pit.”

They cast him in the dungeon of Malchiah the king’s son, “which was in the court of the prison: and they let Jeremiah down with ropes. And he was there in the dungeon and there was no water, but mire: so Jeremiah sank into the mire.” Now I want to give you the picture here. The people in the city are suffering from a famine. Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian troops have surrounded them. They can’t get any food in. They can’t send out for help. This pit that he was in originally was a well, but the well had gone dry. Maybe they had taken all the water out. Now in Bible times they did not have water purification plants. The water that came into these large deep cisterns often ran off the roofs and sometimes through the streets of the city. And they’d channel it off into these cisterns. But that was a seasonal provision.

It was during the rainy season. During the summer the cisterns dried up so that all you had was the muck and the mire and all of the residue that had sunk to the bottom of the cistern. And it stunk and it was foul. And here they lowered this man down by these ropes that cut into his arms, dropped him down in the muck and the mire and left him there to die in that pit. Now would you be depressed in those circumstances? Here you’re just working for God, you’re trying to save your people. They won’t listen to you. They accuse you of wishing them harm. In reality, you’re just wishing them good. And for doing what you’re supposed to do you’re thrown in the pit; down in the mire, in the muck. No food. The Bible says there is no water. That means there was no drinkable water. You know when Joseph was thrown in the pit it says there was no water in the pit. Water’s a symbol of life in the Bible. No life in the pit. And there he was stuck, languishing. We all have our pits. You ever felt like you’re in the pits? Pits of depression.

I won’t ask for a show of hands, but I know that a lot of people, almost everybody at some point or the other struggles with depression because of circumstances. And you feel like you’re in a dark pit. You wonder if you’re ever going to get out. And he sank into the mire. Verse 7, hope begins to rise. “New Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, one of the eunuchs who was in the king’s house, he heard that they had put Jeremiah in the dungeon; and when the king was sitting at the gate of Benjamin; Ebedmelech went out to the king’s house, and he spoke to the king, saying, My lord the king, these men have done evil in all that they’ve done to Jeremiah the prophet,” the emphasis is, “he’s a prophet.” “ Whom they have cast in the dungeon; he’s likely to die of hunger in the place where he is: for there is no more bread in the city.”

Let alone in the prisons. “And then the kind commanded Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, saying, Take from here thirty men with you,” you get a guard, “lift Jeremiah the prophet out of the dungeon, before he dies.” See, the king just went along with whatever the last person talking to him said. “Then Ebedmelech the Ethiopian,” I’m sorry. “He took with him the men,” verse 11, “and he went to the house of the king under the treasury,” notice this, “the house of the king under the treasury, and he took from there old clothes and old rags.” Now these are the old clothes of the king, obviously. Maybe former kings, the royal robes and old rags. “And let them down by ropes into the dungeon to Jeremiah. And Ebedmelech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, Please, put these old clothes and rags under your armpits and under the ropes. And Jeremiah did so.

So they pulled Jeremiah up with the ropes, and lifted him out of the dungeon: and Jeremiah remained in the court of the prison.” He was not out of jail, but he was out of the pits. Now it’s possible to still be in bad circumstances and not be depressed. A person can be out of the pits and still not out of jail. This story is here to remind us that God can give you hope and joy even if your circumstances are challenging. You might still be in prison, but you don’t have to be in the pit, in the mire. Amen? God sent someone; you know what his name was? Ebedmelech. You know what that means? Servant of the king. Here he sends the servant of the king, who lowers a rope and he tenderly takes these old forgotten robes of the king (those could be symbols of the king’s clothes) puts them under his arms, pulls him up out of the pit and he’s now out of the mire.

He’s out of the pit. He can eat bread again. He’s still in prison, but he has hope. Now, if I was to stop right there I hope that you would get something out of this little vignette in the Bible. Whatever your circumstances might be the lord sends His servant. Jesus is called the Suffering Servant and He comes to lift us out of the pit. The Lord came to save us from the pit. Now there are a number of pits that we can get stuck in. When I lived up in the mountains in that canyon in Southern California; I hope you don’t get tired of my talking about this, but it was a big part of my life. There was a place called Three Pools. It was at the bottom of what they called the Third Valley, way up in the mountains and Three Pools was a beautiful place, but it was a very dangerous place. There were these three areas where the water when rushing in flood capacity had smoothly worn the walls of the rock mountain so it had carved out these three holes and one would overflow into the next one, this big hole, which would overflow into the next one and then finally go over a waterfall that was about 50-60 feet down that you, you know, could not get by.

A person could get down into Three Pools thinking that, “I could go downstream,” not knowing that there was another waterfall and it became more and more difficult to get out because the rock walls were sheer. They were smooth. And if you didn’t have some sophisticated climbing gear or you were not a master, you know, fingernail climber; these people who do rock climbing, free climbing. You could get down there, especially in the winter when the water was running and the spray from the falls kept these smooth rock faces, so that it was impossible to climb out. And more than one person died sown in this beautiful spot called Three Pools, in the pit you might say, because they could get in, but they couldn’t get back out again. I found people who were trapped in there.

Fortunately they were alive. Met one lady who was hiking around, she got down there and she found somebody, some former camper who had been stuck in there had left peanut butter and that’s all she had for three days was peanut butter. And got stuck down there in Three Pools. The Bible tells us there are three classic areas of sin and temptation. In I John 2:15 it says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. For if any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that’s in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but the world. And the world passes away, and the lusts thereof: but he that does the will of God will abide forever.”

Three things: lust of the flesh is one pit, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. How many times was Jesus tempted by the devil? Three times; three areas. Christ overcame in these same three areas: the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh (turning the rocks into bread), and the pride of life. And when Eve was tempted she fell in these same three areas. And so there are three basic pits. Now they manifest themselves many different ways. And we may look at some of those. Some people fall into the pit, the lust pit. Now when I say lust most people instantly think of sexual immorality. And that certainly is a pit that many have fallen in. Matter of fact, the Bible calls it a pit. Did you know that? Twice in Proverbs. Proverbs 22:14, “The mouth of an immoral woman is a deep pit: he who is abhorred by the Lord will fall there.” Fall into that pit. Proverbs 23:27, “For a harlot is a deep pit; and the seductress is a narrow well.”

You know, in Bible times pits were used for trapping people. They used to do it to trap animals. If they wanted to trap a wild bear or lion that was getting the shepherd’s goats or sheep they’d dig one of these pits. Sometimes they put stakes at the bottom, but they’d dig a deep pit because it’s got to be deep enough where a lion cannot jump out of it. And they’d dig a deep pit. Sometimes animals would get caught in the pit that weren’t supposed to be in there. Because you can’t always discriminate what’s going to walk by next. Sometimes people used to dig pits to trap people. And I’ll get to that a little later. But pits were made deliberately by people to trap others. It wasn’t just a dry well. Now that was the other case in the Bible. Many times pits were wells that had gone dry. In the case where Joseph was put in a well with no water and he couldn’t climb out of. Jeremiah was thrown in the cistern. But other pits were created for the purpose of trapping.

The devil is called a fowler. A fowler was someone who snared birds. He’s a trapper. He’s a hunter hunting for our souls and one of the ways that he gets us he baits people by lust. Now today there’s a lot of people who have fallen into the pit of lust. It is mind-boggling how readily available sexually suggestive material is. I was talking with some of my friends and the Amazing Facts officers; I think it’s important to do a program that’s specifically designed for men. Pray for me. I was talking to John Lomacang about putting together a program, taking what the Bible says about how to get victory over sexual temptation. Not that women aren’t faced with this, but I’m not an authority in that area. But specifically talking about how men are struggling all the time. And it’s not just men in the world. A lot of men in the church falling into the pit of lust. Well I don’t want to leave you there. Some of you are caught in that pit of lust and it has nothing to do with sex. It’s the lust of the flesh. The desires of the flesh would mean more than just sexual temptation. That would also certainly include, some people it’s food.

That’s the lust of the flesh. It’s the cravings of the body, the carnal desires. That’s the lust of the flesh. For other people it’s drugs. They’ve got a physical addiction for alcohol or drugs or some substance. It’s the lust of the flesh. It’s a physical, carnal, animalistic craving and their trapped in that pit. Now I want you to know right now, as in our scripture reading, the Lord can save you from the pit. Some people get discouraged. They say, “I’ve tried and I’ve tried and I can’t get out. I’m in the mire.” You know I forget exactly when it happened. I remember one time that there was this bucket and it was like a five-gallon bucket that someone had bought at a co-op and it was full of jelly or jam, preserves. Except almost all of it was gone except half an inch at the bottom. And a kangaroo rat wanting some of the jelly jumped into the bucket. Now a kangaroo rat can jump three feet, but not out of jelly. And the poor thing is down in the bottom of the bucket trying to jump until his little legs gave out and he just couldn’t jump anymore. Stuck in the mire. Finally gave up, drowning in jelly. You know some people are stuck like that.

They’ve tried and tried to free themselves, they’re down in the mire. One of the problems with a miry pit is the walls are slick and you can’t jump. You have no footing. Any of you ever dig in clay before? You sink down and it’s awful stuff to try and dig in. Every time you take a shovel load it makes this awful sucking noise as you pick up one shovel load. And one shovel load feels like 50 pounds just because of the suction. And you try and pick your feet up and it’s exhausting and it’s depressing to try and hike through something like that. It’s like what they say in Pilgrim’s Progress, “going through the slough of despond; the swamp of despond.” Stuck in the mire. Some people have fallen into that pit. Other people, it’s the pride of life.

You know they’ve fallen into the pit of greed. Now that pit of greed just doesn’t mean a person is trapped by riches. Some people are trapped by the desire to be rich and they are in a pit of what you would call financial bondage. It’s the same pit. They’re wanting things. It’s materialism. I remember hearing this little fairy tale about a white knight who was riding around the land looking for adventure and he came upon a village where they told him of this fierce ogre that lived down in a pit. And they offered a reward to anybody who would slay the ogre. Many brave challengers had gone down into the pit, but the people of the town could not remember any of them that had ever exited the pit.

Side two…”I’m looking for some adventure. I’ll take on the ogre.” They escorted him to where the pit was and it was just a very narrow hole that went down into a dark chasm. The knight quickly realized that he was not going to get down there with his armor and his gear. So he secured a rope to a nearby tree, dropped the rope over 150 feet down into the pit. And he had to squeeze himself in. After removing all of his outer clothing he squeezed himself through the pit and shimmied down the hole very carefully. And his feet touched down on a mound of bones. They were the former challengers of the ogre. Well he quickly tried to get his eyes adjusted. He picked up one of the bones to use as a weapon because it’s the only thing he had and then he heard this little shriek. And he looked and saw up in the corner no bigger than a rabbit was this ugly little ogre. And he realized, “Hey, I could whip him. He’s not any bigger than a rabbit.”

So he went over to thump him and the little thing shrieked and scurried off and hid under another mound. Well the white knight went over and followed the ogre to that mound and as his eyes became adjusted he noticed that mound was glittering. It was a mound of precious jewels and gold. Every one of them little balls of gold and diamonds and rubies were about the size of a walnut, all uniform. And he thought, “Well look, this ogre’s no threat. I don’t know why they’ve been trying to do him in. He’s not any bigger than a rabbit. But that mountain of money is worth something. I’m going to forget about the monster, leave him alone, and I’m gong to take one of these gems.” Well he picked up the biggest diamond he could find. It was about like a walnut and he thought, “Well, I don’t have a pocket and I don’t have anywhere to put it. I’ll put it in my mouth.” So he popped the diamond into his mouth and he went back to the rope and began to try and shimmy up the rope 150 feet back outside of the hole. As he got up about two-thirds of the way he’s got his diamond in his mouth and he’s snorting and sucking air.

Went a little further and he couldn’t breath. He opened his mouth to gasp for air and he sucked the diamond into his throat. You sound very sad as though it really happened. This is a fable. I did tell you that. And he lost consciousness. He fell to his death on the pile of bones below. And of course the moral of the story was the ogre in the pit was not the little creature it was the greed. And a lot of people because they are desiring to be rich have fallen into this pit of the lust of the eyes. I Timothy 6, you know this one. I Timothy 6:8, “And having food and clothing with these we shall be content.” I need to learn that lesson. “But those who desire to be rich fall,” fall. Gravity’s taken over. They’re going down into the pit. “Those who desire to be rich fall into temptation,” that’s the pit, “and a snare,” it’s a trap, “and many foolish and harmful lusts.” This pit leads to the other pit, doesn’t it? The lust pit. “Which drown men.” “The waters have gone over my head,” as David says. “Which drown men in destruction and perdition. For money is the root of all evil.” Is that what it says? “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil: for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” That’s one of the pits that people fall in.

Some people fall into the pit of pride. It’s hard for them to admit they’re sinners. It’s hard for them to admit they need the Lord. They feel like, “How can you accept something that you haven’t worked for?” You know that insults their pride. “How can it be real if it’s free?” And they never come to Jesus because it just doesn’t appeal to their pride. You know, like Nahaman. If they could climb a mountain or fight a battle in order to be clean they could deal with that, but just wash and be clean? “I can’t handle that. I can’t accept that. It’s too easy. It’s too cheap.” One time a miner was talking to the famous preacher, G. Campbell Morgan, and he said, “I can’t understand. How could I accept this salvation? How can it be worth anything if it’s so inexpensive?” And Morgan asked the miner, he said, “Where were you working today?” “Down in the mine.” He said, “How’d you get out of that pit?” He said, “Well, I took the elevator, the cage.”

He said, “How did you know you could trust the cage? How did you know it would hold you? It might crash to the ground.” And he said, “No,” he said, “it’s very well made. The company spent a lot of money sinking that shaft to get us out of the pit.” He said, “Oh, you mean so it didn’t cost you anything, but it cost them something.” And the light finally dawned on the miner that though salvation is free to us it’s very expensive for the Lord. Some people have fallen into that pit of pride. You know it’s especially hard for men I think sometimes to comprehend that in the Christian experience it’s a battle that you can only win by surrendering. It’s so hard to surrender and just trust that God is going to have control of your life. We want to have control. That’s why men always like to hoard the remotes. We like to be in control. I saw the ripple of laughs go across and those knowing looks between husband and wife. Some people are in the pit because they like being depressed.

Now I’m not saying that’s everybody. Some people really do struggle and they want out of the pit. Other people like the attention they get. Some people like to feel sorry for themselves. They don’t really see the necessity to stay out of the pit. They sort of would like to be out, but not very much. You’ve heard that cute analogy that may have been one of Aesop’s Fables. A frog is hopping along one day not paying attention; he hops off into a deep hole. And hop and hop and he can’t get out. So he starts croaking for help and pretty soon a turtle saunters by and he looks down and says, “What’s the problem?” And the frog says, “I’ve hopped into this hole and I can’t get out. I’ve tried, but I can’t.” “What do you want me to do?” the turtle asks. The frog says, “Well, go pick up a stick and drop it down the hole and maybe I could climb up and hop out.” “Be right back,” the turtle says. But turtles don’t move very fast. So about an hour later the turtle comes back to the hole and there is the frog sunbathing by the edge. And the turtle said, “What are you doing there?” He says, “Well I’m sunbathing.” He says, “Well how did you get out of the hole?

You told me you couldn’t get out.” And the frog looked at the turtle and he said, “Well I couldn’t get out, but a snake crawled in and I had to get out.” Now a lot of people are in the pit because they don’t know how dangerous it is to stay in the pit. And when they realize what a crisis it is it’s amazing what you can do when you combine your human will with God’s divine strength. God will not force you out of the pit. You’ve got to want out of the pit, amen? Another frog story. A little poem somebody wrote that I like this. You’ve heard it before. “Two frogs fell in a can of cream, or so I’ve heard it told. The sides of the can were shinny and steep. The cream was deep and cold. The first frog croaked, ‘Oh, what’s the use? Tis fate, no help’s around. Goodbye my friends, goodbye sad world,’ and weeping still he drowned. But the other frog of sterner stuff dog paddled in surprise. And while he wiped his creamy face and dried his creamy eyes, ‘I’ll swim as long as I can swim,’ or so I’ve heard he said. ‘It really wouldn’t help the world if one more frog were dead.’

An hour or two he kicked and swam not once to stop and mutter, but kicked and kicked and swam and kicked and hopped out via butter.” You know, Jesus came to save us from the horrible pit. Psalm 40:2, “He has brought me up out of a horrible pit.” And you thought I made that title up. It’s actually in the King James Version. “He’s brought me up out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and he’s set my feet on a rock, and established my steps.” God not only takes us up out of the pit, but He puts us on solid ground. You remember I told you that some people dug pits to trap wild animals. Occasionally they would trap domestic animals. That’s why Jesus says in Matthew 12:11-12, “What man is there among you, who has a sheep, if he falls into a pit on the Sabbath day, will not lay hold of it, and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?” If a man will pull his sheep out of the pit then will not our Shepherd pull His sheep out of the pit? Amen? Isaiah 38:17, “Indeed, it was for my own peace that I had great bitterness: but you have lovingly delivered my soul from the pit of corruption: you have cast all my sins behind your back.”

What is the pit that Jesus wants to save us from? “You have cast all of my sins: you have saved my soul from the pit of death.” Zechariah 9, same theme, verse 11, “As for you also, because of the blood of your covenant I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.” Christ has made a covenant. He came to this world to save us from the horrible pit of sin that we’re in. Can you say amen? That’s good news. Because everybody here, you don’t need to tell me what it is, but I know that if you’re a Christian you were in a pit and Jesus lowered the rope like Ebedmelech and pulled you out. Amen? You know there’s an interesting principle in the Bible. You get what you give. What goes around comes around, in the vernacular of the streets. “He who digs a pit,” Ecclesiastes 10:8, “He who digs a pit will fall into it.” In other words, if you try to trap someone you’re apt to fall in the trap you’ve made. Psalm 7:14-15, “Behold, the wicked, he has made a pit, and dug it out, he is fallen into the ditch which he has made.” Again, Proverbs 26:27, I want to make sure you understand this. “Whoever digs a pit will fall into it: and he who rolls a stone, will have it roll back on him.” They used to wait until their enemy rode down the road in a valley and they’d roll stones down on them. And here Solomon is saying that if you try to trap someone else it might backfire.

It’s called the ricochet principle. You know the Bible tells us that the devil has spent his life trapping and ensnaring; he’s kidnapped this planet and he throws the human race in a pit. And the very pit that he’s designed for us he will ultimately be thrown in. You know I think it’s very interesting. Have you studied the story of Absalom? Absalom, the son of David who rebelled against his good father the king. Absalom is very much like the devil. I preached about it a couple of years ago. Absalom accused King David of hiding in a pit. He wasn’t. He accused him of it. Do you know what the end of Absalom was? The Bible says here in II Samuel 18:17, “And they took Absalom,” after they killed him, “and they cast him into a large pit in the woods, and laid a very great heap of stones on him: and all Israel fled every one to his tent.” Achen, Achen was also thrown in the pit and stoned. His was the pit of greed. When he stole that Babylonian clothing and the gold and the silver from Jericho. And because of what he had done the people suffered. He ended up in the pit. What happened to those who threw Daniel in the pit? You know the story, Daniel 6.

The men who falsely accused him? Daniel came out of the pit alive and they were thrown in the lion’s den. Except now the angel of the Lord released his restraint and those lions, the Bible says, “had the mastery of them and broke all their bones in pieces before they ever hit the bottom of the pit.” What goes around comes around. Now the devil is the one who has been trying to trap this world in the pit. And the Bible says in Ezekiel 28:8; you know Ezekiel 28 is a prophecy about the devil. “They shall throw you down into the pit, and you will die the death of the slain in the midst of the seas.” Talks about the pit and the seas. Isn’t that interesting? Revelation 20: 1-2, “And then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on that old dragon, the serpent, the Devil, and Satan, and he bound him,” where? In the pit.

You know he’s been spending his time trying to incarcerate God’s people in the pit and he’s going to the pit the Bible says. Jonah 2, talk about the pits. Talk about depression. You know Jonah says he was in the pit when he was in the bottom of the ocean. “I went down to the moorings of the mountains.” Moorings were the piers on which a boat was tied. And here he’s saying, “I went down to where the mountains are tied to the earth, the bottom of the sea. “The earth with its bars closed behind me for ever: yet you have brought my life from the pit, O Lord my God.” How did Jonah get out of the pit? What did he do in the belly of the whale? Chapter 2 begins by saying, “Jonah prayed.” Can you imagine what that would be like? I mean, Mr. Lavine or Barbara Mackel or others. Nothing is compared to that. Be in the digestive system of a large non-descript sea creature for three days and three nights. Somebody said something to me one time that I never could forget.

They said, “Doug, has it occurred to you that if Jonah could be alive in side that creature there may have been other appetizers that fish had eaten that were still squirming around in there?” And here you are in that foul; I’m wanting to be graphic. Here you are in that foul environment. It’s dark. It’s damp. It’s cold. You can’t see anything. It’s blacker than black. And you hear things groaning and squeaking and squirming around you in the mire and the slime of a fish’s stomach. What did Jonah do? He prayed. Now if ever it would be hard for God to hear a prayer. I mean, even a GPS couldn’t find Jonah in that situation. It'd be really hard to track somebody way down there in a fish’s gut, in the belly. But Jonah was able to catapult his prayer from the pit at the bottom of the mountains to God’s throne. He prayed specifically to the temple of God in heaven, the dwelling place of God. Did God hear his prayer? If the Lord could save Jonah from the bottom of the sea in that circumstance can He get you out of your pit? If you’re willing to get out; like that frog. You’ve got to know it’s dangerous to stay in the pit.

If you ask God to help you out. You need to take the rope that’s been lowered on your behalf. You can’t be too proud and say, “No, I don’t believe it’s free. It’s too good to be true.” Take the king’s clothes and put them under your arms to hold you up and God can raise you up out of the pit. Amen? You know I guess it’s been about 13 years now since little Jessica McClure fell into that well. You remember the story? Whole nation become riveted. This little 18-month-old girl was playing with some of her friends. Her poor teenage parents who were nearby, she was at a neighbor’s, babysitters house playing with some other children. She managed to find the, I think it was like a nine inch opening of a well and toppled off in there. Fell down 22 feet.

Pretty soon the whole nation was engaged in trying to rescue this little baby from a pit. And I was reading some of the different accounts and they said the hardest thing was hearing her cry and not being able to get to her. But you know they mobilized the whole town of Midland, Texas. They got this computer company and they brought their optic-fiber equipment they used in their chemical work and they lowered these cables down so they could look at Jessica. And another company stopped work and they came over and they got their pumps to pump fresh air for Jessica. And then other well drillers came along and they began to sink a well next to her. There was no other way to get her down. She was lodged down there. They couldn’t hook her. And they worked; it took them about 50 hours to get that little girl out of the well. Ultimately what they had to do is they had to go down to where she was. You listening?

They had to drill a parallel well and someone else had to get down into the pit to get her up out of the pit. And you know that’s what the Lord’s done for us. Is that He came down to this earth and He went down into the pit right beside us. And they bored a hole alongside and they smothered little Jessica with Vaseline so they could slip her out. She’s about 13, 14 years old now doing fine. She’s missing one toe on her right foot that had to be amputated because the circulation was cut off too long. She’s got a little scar. If the wind blows her hair back on her bangs you can see a little scar on her forehead. But she’s doing well, getting A’s and B’s in a private school. And the whole nation invested their love and their prayers to save her. The family said that she was saved by love. Everybody pulled together, they prayed for her and they worked to get her out of the pit. Now if humans, sinful and flawed though we are, will do that for another baby will God do less than that for you to get you out of the pit? Whatever your pit might be. It might be the lust of the flesh or the lust of the eyes or the pride of life.

You’ve got to want to get out. You’ve got to take advantage of the rope He’s lowered in your behalf. You need to be willing to ask and pray like Jonah did. Believe like Daniel did. Wait like Joseph did. And God can get you out of the pit. And He’ll set your feet on the solid rock the Bible says. You know what that rock is? It’s the rock of Jesus Christ. What made it all possible? Was love. Now I’ve done something a little out of the ordinary. When I prepared this message I couldn’t find anything in the hymnal, but I kept thinking about that song Love Lifted Me. How many of you know that? If you’ll look in your bulletin we’ve printed it out. And I’d like to ask Don to come out and help me sing this. How many of you know this song, Love Lifted Me? Let me see your hands. Stand up. Those of you who know it I want you to sing from your hearts. It’s one of these old gospel favorites. We’re not going to close with a slow song. I want to close with on a positive note. Love Lifted Me. And God’s love will lift us from the pit as well, OK? Those of you who know it sing from your hearts.


Before we sing the second verse; I like to pause between verses and think about what we’re singing. You have a pit. If you’ve been saved you’ve got a pit. You might be standing on the outside. You may be still stuck in the mire. But God has made a provision at great expense. He sank a shaft parallel to you to get you out of the pit. And it’s His love that did it. If you stay in the pit it can be very dangerous. Would you make a decision right now to take advantage of what the Lord has done through His love to come out of that pit? Whatever your pit might be His love can lift you. You ask Him, you take hold of the rope. If you trust Him He will bring you out. Let’s sing verse two together.


You know there’s one advantage to being in the pit. The only place you can look is up for help. And, friends, if you’re in the pit and you can look up now because Jesus has made a provision. He’s made it possible by His own sacrifice for you to be up on solid ground.




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