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Trapped and Isolated in Thailand: Salvation from a Cave

July 09, 2018
Trapped and Isolated in Thailand: Salvation from a Cave

Written by Mark A. Kellner

Much of the world’s attention is now focused on the Tham Luang Nang Non cave complex in the Mae Sai district of Thailand’s Chiang Rai province. Television networks from throughout Asia, Europe, and North America are beaming live coverage of an intense rescue effort aimed at bringing twelve junior soccer team members trapped in the caves out alive.

So far, as many as six of the youths have made it out of the dangerous location. It’s estimated as many as four days may be required to bring the remaining teenagers to safety.

It’s difficult to underestimate the challenges involved in this rescue. The boys, along with their 25-year-old coach, are on a rock ledge some two miles from the entrance to the cave. Some passages are extremely narrow, and there’s been flooding underground that makes the journey even more perilous. One news report indicated that “several hours” were required for the trip out of the cave to safety.

A global rescue team, including skilled “cave divers” from Britain, the United States, and elsewhere, along with members of the U.S. Navy’s elite SEALS unit and even engineers from Tesla Motors’ founder Elon Musk’s companies, are laboring to accomplish the rescue. One retired Thai SEAL diver has already perished in the attempt, news that has been kept from the trapped boys for obvious reasons.

No one, at the time of writing, can predict what is going to happen to the remaining youths, whether they will all get out safely or when the rescue will be accomplished. Millions of people around the world have prayed for the boys, and even Pope Francis, spiritual leader of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics, offered his prayers to the effort.

There are any number of reasons why this particular crisis has captured the attention of millions around the world, people who, a short time ago, likely couldn’t find the Mae Sai district of Thailand on a map. The human peril involved is certainly an attraction, as is the transnational effort to effect a rescue. Middlebury College professor Jay Parini, writing at CNN.com, noted: “This is one of those rare times when we see how much we can achieve against terrifying odds when people work in unison, selflessly, to do something important.”

For a Christian, there are other elements of this story that might resonate. The notion of self-sacrifice is one, of course, but there’s also the nature of the boys’ dilemma, its location, and of the rescue.

Media reports indicate the young men got into trouble quite innocently: They went for what they imagined would be a fun hike after a practice session. In Genesis 3, we read of a verbal exchange between Eve (“the woman”) and Satan (“the serpent”) that began innocently enough, but it ended in tragedy for her, for Adam, and for all of humanity. What Eve imagined would bring her enlightenment instead produced profound grief.

The young boys in Thailand are trapped in an underground location that is difficult for outsiders to reach and from which they cannot save themselves. As a result of that first sin, all of us on Earth are trapped in the consequences of sin—including separation from God—without a way for us to save ourselves. As with those boys in the cave, help must come from outside the environment.

For the rescue at the caves of Tham Luang Nang Non, those with expert knowledge of the right procedures and tactics have converged on the location. Knowledge is being pooled; information and equipment are being shared. Everyone is working together to assure a positive outcome, with little thought of individual credit or glory.

In order to rescue fallen humanity, in order to pay the price for sin that no human could pay, Jesus, God’s “only begotten Son” (John 3:16), had to bring His expert knowledge to bear. He came to Earth, lived a sinless life, did good to all, preached the Word, and offered His own life as the sacrifice for sin—for your sin, for mine, and for everyone who has ever lived or will ever live. Of course, Jesus isn’t worried about getting “credit” for His sacrifice; His glory is eternal, and co-equal with that accorded God the Father.

There’s perhaps one more parallel here: The boys in the Thai cave will have to accept not only the opportunity to be rescued but also to follow the instructions of those attempting to lead them out. For all of sinful humanity, we must not only accept Jesus’ offer (John 14:6), but we must also agree to His terms (John 3:1–21).

If we do that, if we accept Jesus’ sacrifice and respond with the dedication of our lives to His will and His commandments (Revelation 14:12), we shall be rescued—not only from this life but from sin’s ultimate penalty. Instead, we’ll have eternal life with God and Jesus!

There’s one other story of someone who found a way to escape sin—and while living in a cave, no less! It’s the personal testimony of Pastor Doug Batchelor, and you can watch it by clicking here.

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