What does Plato’s well known analogy on reality have to do with the Church and Messianic Judaism? Plato described life in a cave with its dim lights and shadows as an analogy for those who live in the world of sensory experience and never come to a true understanding of reality or the full light of day. The shadows moving on the walls are mistaken for reality. For Plato, reality was his realm of true intellectual ideas. For me the analogy speaks of the reality of Kingdom life in power over against the dim light and shadows that typifies most of the Western Church.
THE SPIRIT POURED OUT
From the late 1960s through the 1980s there was a great move of God, especially among America’s young people. Literally millions were swept into the Kingdom of God. Some of these millions were Jews who are constituents of today’s Messianic congregations. This was a thrilling time. Many who came to Yeshua had vibrant testimonies of His revealing Himself. These were supernatural stories. These new believers attended worship services that often lasted for many hours. We attended one meeting that went from 6:30pm to 11:30pm every Sunday evening. True seekers visited and were met by God.
In Washington, D. C. we experienced God’s Kingdom life. Many came to know the Lord. We counted many churches as friends of our Messianic Congregations. Wonderful things were happening in these churches. This was life outside the cave. It was life in the light of day. I call life outside the cave a life of God’s presence, power and manifestation, or PPM. In one wonderful gathering during those days we immersed 26 Jews in the name of Yeshua. There were unity meetings, prayer meetings among pastors, life in the Spirit seminars, cooperative efforts and more. There were amazing healings and stories of deliverance. Our pediatrician was not only a famous doctor in the state, but a man of mighty miracles.
SOME RETURN TO THE CAVE
I understand those who have never been out of the cave. This is the only reality they have ever known. However, something very sad happened from the 90s on. Many switched from the mode of seeking God for revival to adopting a sociological-psychological method for attracting people. Some of these knew life outside the cave but have since returned to the cave. This is true among Messianic Jews as well. This today is called “seeker friendly” or “user friendly” services. Far be it from me to not be friendly to seekers. I want people to understand what we are saying and to be able to relate to what we are doing. However, this is a secondary concern. My primary concern is PPM. When PPM is great, then even our ineptitude is overcome, and God meets people. In revival there is a harvest, not only the picking of a few ears. Some who had experience outside the cave now argue that manifestations of the Spirit are contrary to reaching the lost. Wow! Tell that to the people in the southern hemisphere of the globe who are winning people in droves!
There is a hidden contradiction in this orientation. If the Spirit of God is manifesting Himself, we need to remember that He is a person and knows what He is doing. Certainly He acts for the best of those who do not yet know the Lord Yeshua. He is the One who brings people into the Kingdom. Of course the question is whether or not it is really the Spirit; but people can be trained to be more accurate and sensitive to the Spirit so that PPM (presence, power and manifestation) is the real thing. My great concern is that many have now decided that they no longer desire the presence and power of God. They no longer pray for it.
One time I also slipped into the error of going overboard in the seeker friendly orientation. The Jewish High Holidays were the one time in the year where we would be like other synagogues. We would be a place where the Jewish person who did not know the Messiah Yeshua could be comfortable. Before the holidays, my wife Patty had an extraordinary dream. She saw a series of pictures: first she saw a man acting on stage and even identifying his stage name. Then the images changed and she saw this same man enter our sanctuary and then leave to sit in his car in the parking lot.
During the High Holidays the man from Patty’s dream actually showed up at our congregation just as Patty had seen in her dream. True to form he then left and sat in his car. At Asher Intrater’s urging, Patty went outside, shared the dream with this man and asked him to come back into the service for prayer.
Asher came forward after my message and asked me to trust him to lead us into something special; then Patty and the visitor came forward. He publicly testified to the accuracy of the dream. This was a dramatic manifestation of the Spirit in the prophetic realm. I expected our other Jewish visitors to be impressed with our choir, our great worship music, the way we did liturgy and my speaking. But instead they were impressed by the supernatural manifestation of God. Some were saying, “This dream and the testimony mean that God is real, that He really intervenes!!” It was a better testimony than anything I could have done.
I long for the life outside the cave; I wonder that those who once experienced it can return to the cave. I suppose the cave seems safe, manageable and an atmosphere more easily controlled. This is very desirable to some. It seems more respectable. I know that we have to learn to filter out what is not from God; but in an atmosphere of over control and government, God has been asked to please remain within our boundaries. This is the tendency of most of today’s seeker friendly directions. We are seeing some really big congregations established, but few are successful in winning new people to the Kingdom of God.
LIFE INSIDE THE CAVE
I want to illustrate life inside the cave. Let us imagine a big cavern. There are many caves in the one cavern. The leaders in each cave compete for the people in the cavern to be in their cave. They rearrange the furniture and even make better cave furniture. This does attract more people. Some of the caves have many more people than others. There are even a few who drift into the cavern and go to one of the caves and commit to the light that they see in the cave. However, most of what goes on is only the people already in the cavern switching their cave dwellings.
All of today’s church growth statistics, especially the data compiled by George Barna, tell us that this is not really working. We need to seek God for a revival; a mighty move of God, we need to be open for His manifestations of power. When God pours out His Spirit, people are motivated to be truly discipled and empowered to win a lost world.
We have much literature on the history of revival; the accounts of Jonathan Edwards, the Wesleys and Zinzendorf to name a few. We have an historical record of life outside the cave. It is less safe but the Spirit knows what He is doing.
REVIVAL IN ISREAL
In Israel we seek a great harvest. We work in a training school that is committed to life outside the cave. We know that only God’s presence, power and manifestation will gain a great harvest in this land. The Book of Acts shows us life outside the cave and we are to accept nothing less. This is our desire. To gain a Jewish harvest, nothing less will do.