The year 2020 will be an epoch that is talked about in American history books. That is, if when all of this plays out if there is an America still, and if there are still history books. We really live in unprecedented times on a number of levels. COVID-19 has rocked our world. We have cities in turmoil. We have rioters destroying lives and property.
To top it all off we are in the midst of a presidential election where worldviews come to collide — and perhaps some of what’s happening in 2020 is because it’s an election year, right?
And then there are problems in the churches. We disagree about COVID. We disagree about the protesting. We disagree about the election. What ought believers be doing in the midst of such chaos today? Well, that’s what this blog series is about.
Now, I don’t mean for you to consider these posts as me saying just put your head down and hold onto Jesus and don’t say anything. Absolutely not. Today is not the day for sitting on the fence. Today is not the day for silence. The church is called to action. To proclaim the truth. To not let the lies of this age infect our children and our neighbors and future generations.
But we must have a firm foundation. Christ is the rock we must cling to. And if we do not we will be blown about by the next lie coming down the road.
What does it mean to “cling to Christ”?
In today’s post, we will walk through three Old Testament passages each having the Hebrew word דבק (dābaq), which is used just over 50x in the Old Testament. I want to use this word as a foundation for defining what it means to cling to Jesus and as we walk through these passages I think you’ll see why.
The first time this word appears in the Bible is in Genesis 2:24. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The phrase in the ESV as “hold fast to” is the Hebrew word we are considering.
A man shall leave his parents and cling to his wife. The idea we might assign to cling there is both duty and delight. It is both a husband’s obligation and pleasure to cling to his wife.
Likewise, it is both the Christian’s duty and delight to cling to Christ. And especially in the midst of uncertain, wicked, and chaotic times we are obligated to cling to Jesus and it should be our joy.
Another example of clinging in the Old Testament is in Psalm 63:8. “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”
Here, then, we can understand clinging in a spiritual sense. And we might assign to cling the idea of trust and hope. This is a following hard after God by David.
To cling to Christ is to follow Christ. Matthew Henry comments on this verse: “To press hard after God is to follow him closely, as those that are afraid of losing the sight of him, and to follow him swiftly, as those that long to be with him.”
I would argue that in both of the above examples we can’t understand “clinging” without also assigning the idea of love to our definition. The husband loves his wife and clings to her. The Psalmist loves the Lord, and his soul clings to Him.
The believer clings to Christ in the midst of cultural chaos not merely because he fears the unstable world around him, but because he loves his King.
A Final Example
Now I want to look at a third passage. Ruth 1:14 says, “Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.”
Ruth is leaving and cleaving. She’s leaving the easy way, the natural way of Orpah. She’s turning her back on what’s familiar, she’s leaving Moab and cleaving to Naomi. And here I might add the word “desperation” to the idea of clinging.
Ruth is not going anywhere else. She has nowhere else she can turn. She has nothing else to go to. She is resolutely determined to cling to Naomi.
So, Ruth 1:15–17 says, “And [Naomi] said, ‘See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.’ But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.’”
Till death do us part! Ruth turns her back on everything else and clings to Naomi. She understands that to go with Naomi is to go all in. There is no physical way she can cling to both Moab and Naomi who is bound for Bethlehem at the same time.
In the same way, it is impossible for the believer to cling to both the world and Christ in glory simultaneously. He or she cannot go limping between two opinions. If Christ is God, follow Him. If the world is better, then turn your back on Jesus and love it. Of course, to choose the latter is both foolish and wicked.
When we think about clinging ourselves to Christ, I want us to have these Old Testament illustrations in the background of our minds and hearts.
Ultimately to cling to Christ is an act of faith. To cling to Christ is to believe Him. It is to trust Him. And yet, with this Old Testament imagery in our minds, we also see that to cling to Christ is to love Him. To cherish Him. To delight in Him. To follow Him.
To cling to Christ is to have nowhere else to go. It is to give up hope in anything this world has to offer, in any merits of our own, and to rest ourselves wholly upon the Lord.
How can you cling to other things and Jesus? You cannot!
Clinging to Christ is a resolute determination to follow the narrow way. To take up our cross and go after Him. To be different from the world. To hate sin and love truth.
Now, R.C. Sproul says, “In various seasons, the faith by which we cling to Christ can be stronger or weaker.” Ultimately, it is our great hope that even when our faith is weak, Jesus still clings to us, doesn’t He? Praise God for His keeping us till the end.We serve a Jesus who does not let us go.
But as we go through this series, let us be determined that we will cling ourselves to Christ. For the remainder of the posts, we will mostly consider Paul’s words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:8.