This past Wednesday I started a Beth Moore bible study at my church called Stepping Up: A Journey Through the Psalms of Ascent. It’s funny how God works. Sorry for the length, but a little background is in order.
First of all, I am a geek. I love studying. Anything and everything. If there is something I can research, I am SO there. I LOVE studying the Bible because there are so many layers and so much depth. If you stop at the bible stories you learned in Sunday School, you are missing out on SO much. Those only scratch the surface of the deeper truths that the Word of God holds. Things interweave in ways that only God can be responsible for.
Second, I admit that I had grown complacent over the past few years in my search for the deeper things of God. I think we are all guilty of that, especially when we get to a place in our lives where we are comfortable. I was in that place up until last fall. Then something happened that shook my world to the very core. Something I didn’t remotely think was possible. I found myself desperate for some sign from God that things would be okay. I realized that I had put God on the back burner in my life and hadn’t really been seeking Him and letting Him be my life’s focus. I spent hours and hours sitting on my floor with my Bible, usually finding myself in Psalms. I prayed scripture after scripture, and slowly realized that no matter what happened in the situation I was in, God was still God and He was still in control. Everything would be okay. And it was.
I realized that I can’t be complacent in prayer or Bible study. I needed to constantly be lifting my burdens and concerns up to God and seeking His face and His guidance for me and my family.
It’s amazing how fickle we are. Six months later I was comfortable and complacent again and had stopped being vigilant about daily prayer and Bible study. Then I was given the book The Shack. I blogged earlier about my reaction to this book. Though it is an allegory (FICTION), it really opened my eyes to the kind of relationship that God really wants with us. I wanted that deeper relationship. I started reading Jesus, the One and Only by Beth Moore and doing my daily (most of the time) Bible study.
About this same time, I was trying to figure out which Wednesday Bible study to take at church this fall. It had been a few years since I had done one, so it was hard to make the commitment to come straight home from work, shovel something in my mouth, and then head to church. But I decided I wasn’t going to let circumstances get in my way. I asked my friend if she wanted to take a class with me, and she had already signed up for this Beth Moore class. She asked if I wanted to do it with her, so I thought why not? I really wasn’t that excited about studying Psalms. lol I actually wanted to study something with more “meat” like Isaiah or Ezekiel. Little did I know.
Things were going good, when out of the blue, another one of life’s little inconveniences came out of nowhere and landed in my lap. Actually, it seems like the Enemy was using every trick in the book in the weeks leading up to the start of the study to keep me discouraged and down and, looking back in hindsight, to possibly stop me from attending. I will confess to an extremely poor attitude in various areas of my life.
I had the workbook at my house for several weeks prior to the study, but I never opened it. Now I wish I had. In the first video lesson, Beth Moore talked about how the Psalms of Ascent were sung by Israelites on pilgrimages and how God is going to use them to speak to us on the pilgrimage we are on. The first day’s lesson in the workbook Beth stated what she felt God’s goals were in this study:
- God desires to dramatically change our outlook on daily life.
- God wants to raise us to a higher plane of worship and service
- God wills to usher us to the next step in our personal journeys with Him even if we have to press through the thickest forest to get to it.
Boy, was I in the right study. Then Beth started talking about WHAT she wanted us to do to start off each day before we did our daily “homework”. She wanted us to get down on the floor on our faces before God in prayer each day. Yes, completely down on the floor. Face down. In the most submissive posture imaginable.
And what was my immediate thought? Me, the person who was searching for a deeper relationship with God? Me, who wanted to be able to discern God’s will in my life? What was my first thought?
That was the first thing that popped into my head. Just BAM! Right there. No thinking, no contemplating, no time between her words and my thought. And let me tell you, it completely and totally shocked me. I mean, it isn’t like I am submitting to another person (which I can tell you right now, is EXTREMELY hard for me). This is God we are talking about. The Lord of the universe. Maker of heaven and earth. Our LORD. Yikes.
Beth then read from Leviticus 9:23-24:
And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of meeting, and came out and blessed the people. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.
She explained that the Hebrew word translated “shouted” actually meant to “shout for joy”. They shouted for joy, then fell facedown in worship. Even though I was still in a state of shock over my initial reaction, I determined right then that I WAS going to get face down every day, and nothing was going to stop me.
So the next day I woke up, got facedown in my extra bedroom and asked for God to speak to me through this study and also to please help me not feel silly while I am facedown on my floor. 😉 I then opened up my Bible. I have been trying to read through the Bible (again) and am currently in II Chronicles. Chapter 20, verse 18 says:
Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the LORD, worshipping the LORD. Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the LORD God of Israel with voices loud and high.
I decided to do a search on Biblegateway.com to see how many times people fell on their faces. I found over 50 instances. It usually occurred in periods of deep distress or in response to an action of God. And the people falling facedown were usually people we consider as being closest to God. Here are just a few examples of the ones that stuck out to me most:
- Genesis 17:1-3 – When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him . . .
- Numbers 16:20-22 – And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” Then they fell on their faces, and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?”
- Numbers 20:6 – So Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, and they fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them.
- Deuteronomy 9:25 – (Moses speaking) I prostrated myself before the LORD; forty days and forty nights I kept prostrating myself, because the LORD had said He would destroy you.
- Joshua 7:6 – Then Joshua tore his clothes, and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust on their heads.
- I Kings 18:38-29 – (Elijah’s Mount Carmel Victory) Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. Now when all the people saw it, the fell on their faces; and they said, “The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!”
- I Chronicles 21:16 – Then David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, having in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. So David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell on their faces.
- Job 1:20 – Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshipped.
- Ezekiel 1:28, 3:23, 9:8, 11:13, 43:3, and 44:4 – In all these instances, Ezekiel fell facedown either in response to something God had shown him or in prayer as he called out to God.
- Daniel 8:17-18 (Daniel’s response to an appearance of Gabriel) So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.” Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright.
- Matthew 17:5-6 (Mount of Transfiguration) While he (Peter) was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid.
- Mark 3:11 – And the unclean spirits, whenever they saw Him, fell down before Him and cried out, saying, “You are the Son of God.”
- Mark 5:22 – And behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue came, Jairus by name. And when he saw Him, he fell at His feet.
- Mark 5:33 – But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.
- Mark 7:25 – For a woman whose young daughter had an unclean spirit heard about Him, and she came and fell at His feet.
- Luke 5:12 – And it happened when He was in a certain city, that behold, a man who was full of leprosy saw Jesus; and he fell on his face and implored Him, saying, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.”
- Luke 17:15-16 – And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks.
- John 11:32 – Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
- John 18:4-6 – Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?” They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
- Acts 22:7 – And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
- Revelation 1:17 – And when I (John) saw Him (Jesus), I fell at His feet as dead.
- Revelation 5:8, 5:14, 7:11, 11:16, 19:4 – shows the angels and elders in Heaven falling on their faces before the Throne.
But the one that sticks out to me the most, the one that hit me the hardest, is found in Matthew 26:39 and Mark 14:35.
He (Jesus) went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed . . . (Matthew 26:39)
He (Jesus) went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. (Mark 14:35
Jesus fell on His face before God. Jesus fell on His face before God. JESUS fell on HIS face before GOD. GOD the Son was on His face before GOD the Father. And I was balking at doing it? Wow. Talk about twisting the knife.
If Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, David, Job, Ezekiel, Daniel, ALL the disciples, ALL the angels, ALL the elders, and JESUS can fall facedown before God, I had sure better be able to get over myself and do that, too.