Under Gods Command
Warning from Israel’s History

1 Corinthians 10:1-10

1-5: 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. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wildernesses.

The cloud and the sea mentioned here refer to Israel’s escape from slavery in Egypt when God led them by a cloud and brought them safely through the Red Sea (Exodus 14). The spiritual food and drink are the miraculous provisions God gave as they traveled through the desert (Exodus 15; 16).10:2 “Baptized into Moses” means that just as we are united in Christ by baptism, so the Israelites were united under Moses’ leadership in the events of the exodus.10:7–10

6-10: Now these things occurred as examples’ to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 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 pagan revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

The incident referred to in 10:7 took place when the Israelites made a golden calf and worshiped it in the desert (Exodus 32). The incident in 10:8 is recorded in Numbers 25:1–9 when the Israelites worshiped Baal of Peor and engaged in sexual immorality with Moabite women. The reference in 10:9 is to the Israelites’ complaint about their food (Numbers 21:5, 6). They put the Lord to the test by seeing how far they could go. In 10:10, Paul refers to when the people complained against Moses and Aaron, and the plague that resulted (Numbers 14:2, 36; 16:41–50). The destroying angel is referred to in Exodus 12:23. 10:10 Paul warned the Corinthian believers not to complain. We start to complain when our attention shifts from what we have to what we don’t have. The people of Israel didn’t seem to notice what God was doing for them—setting them free, making them a nation, giving them a new land—because they were so wrapped up in what God wasn’t doing for them. They could think of nothing but the delicious Egyptian food they had left behind (Numbers 11:5).

Lets Bring it Home: Before we judge the Israelites too harshly, it’s helpful to think about what occupies our attention most of the time. Are we grateful for what God has given us, or are we always thinking about what we would like to have? Don’t allow your unfulfilled desires to cause you to forget God’s gifts of life, family, friends, food, health, and work.

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