“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”
(1 Corinthians 10:11)
The tenth chapter of Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians is among the most instructive in all the Bible. Paul begins this amazing chapter by reminding us that Israel was brought out of bondage in the land of Egypt through their identification with God’s man, Moses (10:1-4). Immediately we see the parallel to our own redemptive histories. We were brought out of lives in bondage to sin through our identification with God’s man, Jesus (John 8:32-36). Just as the ancient Israelites passed through the Red Sea, “baptized into Moses,” we were baptized into Christ as we made our exit from our old lives of sin (Romans 6:1-14; Galatians 3:26-27). It is shocking to read Paul’s stark, summary statement regarding those who left Egypt. “But with many [most!] of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness” (10:5). The writer to the Hebrews explains that the fleeing Israelites needlessly refused to exercise faith in God during their journey through the wilderness. Instead they hardened their hearts to His word and known will (Hebrews 3-4). Paul explains that “these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted” (10:6). These people began worshipping false gods, lapsed into gross sexual immorality, and murmured and complained incessantly (10:7-10). After each of these grave moral offences, God inflicted severe judgments on His people. Today’s verse passage reminds us that God’s dealings with His people at the time of the Exodus were intended to reveal His holy character, standards, and His absolute intolerance for sin. He is, as the prophet declared, of purer eyes than to look upon evil (Habakkuk 1:13). We notice that these things happened to them for our (bad!) examples. This is a powerful reminder that God is the absolute sovereign over all historical eventuation. When we read of how spectacularly Israel failed in time past, we can tend to think of ourselves as somehow better than they. Paul cautions us against this. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,” wrote the great apostle (10:12). While we don’t see supernatural sign judgments in churches when people lapse into heresy, hypocrisy, and gross immorality, we ought not to think that God is somehow less offended at these things. His reluctance to administer harsh chastening on the spot is an expression of His amazing patience and grace. What’s more, the Lord has promised to help us when we feel tempted to act contrary to His known will. “God is faithful,” wrote Paul, “who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it”
(10:13). May the Lord help us all to walk strong today, for His glory, for our blessedness, and for the good of others also. Hallelujah!
God bless you, dear saints,