HISTORY NEEDN’T REPEAT
Lord, keep me from spiritual complacency.
Read 1 CORINTHIANS 10:1–13
Warnings From Israel’s History
10 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Paul admonished the Corinthians not to be idolaters, as some of the Israelites were. What forms of idolatry pose as temptations for you?
Paul sets out to caution the Corinthians about any sense of spiritual superiority or complacency. It seems that some people in that church are touting their baptism and their participation in the Lord’s Supper—and therefore expressing a misplaced sense of spirituality. Paul has addressed in the previous chapter the need to keep fit in the faith in an effort to preclude any hint of a spiritually blasé attitude. He does so by citing Israel, the exodus, and the protracted journey to the promised land. He identifies four specific privileges that Israel enjoyed: the presence of God in the cloud and pillar guiding the people; the parting of the Red Sea; the provision of manna and quail; and the provision of water from the rock (1–5). Paul reminds the Corinthians that, despite these blessings, the Israelites still turned away from the Lord by committing idolatry and immorality before testing the Lord, grumbling about their circumstances (7–11).
Paul tells them that even those of us who think we have obtained a heightened revelation of God’s truth—and therefore have faith and doctrine worked out—should be cautious, lest we stumble into error. Baptism, communion, even divine revelation do not of themselves automatically certify Christian maturity. None of the miracles the Israelites experienced guaranteed that they would inherit the promised land.
Should we get despondent or feel insecure, we are reminded of God’s gracious promise to us; even when we are tempted to disobey or to wander from the path of discipleship, he will always provide a means of escape and a route to safety.
What are some of the temptations you face? What would it be like to imagine God’s way of escape?
Lord, thank You for supplying us with the time-honored example of Israel and some of their pitfalls for our edification.