It appears that the vast majority of the Corinthian church was a congregation of people that pushed the limits of grace and liberty to the edge. They were divided over “favorite” teachers. They were flaunting how tolerant they were of sexual sin. They were bringing one another to court to settle their differences and personal disputes. They were filled with pride and knowledge about idols. They considered it sheer nonsense that there was any danger in eating meat offered unto pagan gods. Instead of considering the convictions of others, they were stumbling both the church and the pagans by eating this meat in public.
We will see as we move on in the book that they were coming to the agape dinners drunk. Because of their unrepentant sin when coming to the Lord’s Supper, many of them were sick and even died. They were misinterpreting grace and liberty big time. We do have Christian liberty, but our liberty is never to do something that is outside of the known the will of God.
So Paul writes to these saints a very pointed warning that in light of such questionable behavior, they should not claim assurance of salvation simply because they identified with Christ in their water baptism or took The Lord’s Supper.
10.1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers (forefathers) were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
10.2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
And did all eat the same spiritual meat (food);
And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
Moreover brethren is a phrase that connects this section with the last verse of chapter 9.
I would not that ye should be ignorant. When Paul writes that he did not want them to be ignorant, you can be sure that the brethren were ignorant or unaware of something he is going to explain to them. Ancient Israel’s 40- year journey between Egypt and Canaan is a sobering illustration of the misuse of freedom and the dangers of overconfidence. The cloud and the sea refer to two of the means that God used to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and led through the wilderness (Ex. 13:17–14:31).
Baptized unto Moses- The Greek word baptize basically means “to immerse.” Paul is telling the Corinthians that all of the Israelites who were under the cloud and passed through the sea were “immersed” or identified with Moses. In verses 1 and 2, Paul uses the word all 5 times. The Israelites passage through the waters is compared to Christian baptism, by which believers publicly identify with The Lord Jesus Christ. The miracles of the manna (Exodus 16:2.36), quail (Numbers 11,4-34) and the water from the rock are mentioned to describe the spiritual nourishment that God graciously and continually provided for His people during the wilderness wanderings.
It is to be noted that the incident of the rock appears at both the beginning of their desert wanderings (Ex. 17:1–7) and near the end (Num. 20:2–13). The smitten Rock is a type of Christ’s one sacrifice for sin. The Name Rock is a common OT name for God (Deut. 32:4). Paul intentionally uses the word Rock to speak of Jesus Christ. This is another one of the numerous proof texts of The Deity of Jesus Christ.
What we see here is that Jesus Christ is central to all of redemptive history. The volume of the book speaks of Christ. The birth of Jesus was an incarnation, not His beginning. Jesus Christ was behind the miraculous source of manna, quail and water in the wilderness.
10.5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
Though all were under the cloud and all passed through the sea, with many of them, God was not well pleased. Of the adults who came out of Egypt, only Caleb and Joshua were allowed to enter Canaan (Numbers 14.24-35). Though God by His sustained Israel’s and in spite of the fact that they witnesses remarkable miracles, they failed to obey God, thus incurring His displeasure.
In verses 6-11, Paul parallels the events in Israel’s early history to the current situation in the Corinthians church. He warns them about idolatery (vs.7). Sexually immorality (vs. 8). Testing Christ (vs. 9). Murmuring and complaining (vs.10 ).
10.6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
All that happened to Israel serves as an example, howbeit a bad one. They were recorded as warnings that we should not set our hearts on evil things as they did.
When it says that they lusted after evil things. What were those things?
***Numbers 11:4–6 And the mixed multitude that was among them fell alusting: and the children of Israel also wept again, and said, Who shall give us flesh to eat? We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
If you ask the question what could possibly be wrong with wanting leeks, onions and garlic, you are asking the wrong question. The point is that they were asking for these things because they were not satisfied with the manna that God provided. Manna is not only a type of Christ, the Bread of God. It is also a type of the Scripture.
By lusting for these “other things” they were essentially questioning the provision of God and saying that Christ was not enough for them.
God sent so many quail their way that His people ate until they could eat no more. The psalmist sheds further light on this when he says, God gave them their request, but He sent leanness to their soul” (Psalm 106:14, 15). That’s always the way it is with lust. Lust is never satisfied; it always demands more than you fed it the last time, and eventaully brings leanness to the soul, weakness to the body, emptiness to the spirit.
Egypt is a type of the fallen world system. It is a type of the old life before we knew Jesus Christ. So what they were saying is that they were getting tired of the things of God, and wanted to “go back to” the things of the flesh.
Jesus Christ does not deliver us out of Egypt to put us back into Egypt. We are delivered from the kingdom of this world in order that we might be an ambassador of Jesus Christ in this world.
10.7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play (indulge in pagan revelry).
Referring to the incident of when they worshipped the golden calf that was made by Aaron (Ex 32:1–6). It was at that time that the people ate a ritual meal sacrificed to an idol. Keep in mind that some Corinthians insisted that it was their “right” to eat food that they knew was sacrificed unto idols.
What is an idol? An idol is anything in your life that you put in the place of God. It can be your spouse, your children, your grandchildren, your career, your 401k or your hobbies. It can be yourself. You may not have a Buddha on your mantel or a shrine in your home—but watch out that you don’t allow a person, author, ministry, or book to represent God to you. That’s idolatry. That’s sin. That’s serious.
10.8 Neither let us commit fornication (sexual immorality), as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
Refers to Israel’s participation in the worship of the Baal of Peor and the sexual practices associated with that worship (Nu 25:1–9). Israelite men indulged in idolatry and sexual immorality with Moabite women, resulting in the death of thousands.
Acts 15.28,29 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well, Fare ye well.
Loose living is inconsistent with the testimony of Jesus Christ. We are called to live in purity and holiness, not fornication and sexual sin.
10.9 Neither let us tempt Christ (test The Lord), as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
Israel was discouraged and complained about the manna that God had given them, resulting in many of them being killed by poisonous snakes (Numbers 21.5,6). Note, they tested the goodness of God, and were destroyed by serpents. The Corinthians needed to know that if they continued on that same path of tempting Christ, He would leave them in the power of the old serpent. But herein is the incredible grace of God. In Numbers 21-7-9, we read that God in His grace provided a means of deliverance.
Numbers 21.7-9 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole:and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
John 3.14-17 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved
10.10 Neither murmur (grumble) ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
Israel repeatedly grumbled and complained in the wilderness. Their grumbling and complaining about Moses and Aaron and the manna that God provided for them eventually destroyed them.
Philippians 2.14-16a Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life.
Matthew Henry wrote: Murmuring against God’s disposals and commands, greatly provokes Him. Nothing in Scripture is written in vain; and it is our wisdom and duty to learn from it. We are taught to be thankful unto God for Who He is and for all that He has done for us.
10.11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
One of the purposes of Scripture is to warn us of the kinds of things that displease God and lead to destruction.
Paul writes that the ends of the world are come. The First Coming of Christ, not His Second Coming, marks the ends of the ages. The Second Coming concludes what the first unfolds and will bring to accomplishment. We live in an overlap between the former and the new creation.
10.12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
Proverbs 16.18 Pride goes before destruction,and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 28.14 Happy is the man that feareth alway: but he that hardeneth his heart shall fall into mischief
Apart from the grace of God, any one of us could fall today. Therefore, you and I need to be very careful that we stay in the realm of the will of God where we are not quenching the Spirit of God in our lives. A proper understanding of the grace of God will not cause a person to be lifted up with pride, self righteous and self-confident. It will humble them in the sight of The Lord. The Corinthians church must not allow their pride and sinful living to ignore these warnings of God.
10.13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, 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
No matter what temptation you are experiencing right now beloved, there have been others who have had the same kind of temptation. We will never be free from temptation in this life. You can count on it. Thus, it is not temptation that is the problem. It is when we bite the bait and make provision for the flesh.
Temptation in itself is not sin. Jesus was tempted (Mt 4:1–11). Yielding to temptation is sin. The Greek for “temptation” and “tempted” can also mean “testing” and “tested.” Thus we must always bear in mind that while God permits testing for the purpose of strengthening faith and character, Satan entices to evil for the purpose of destruction.
Two important facts about temptation in this verse:
- The devil cannot use his demonic power to tempt you beyond what you are able to bear. The devil cannot make us sin. He can only attempt to get you to question the Word of God.
- God is faithful. God does not set you up to cause you to sin. He will always provide a way of escape.
Job 5.17,18 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole.
Did God convict you of something today? Do you find pushing the grace and liberty of God to the edge? If so, it is now up to you to confess, repent and get back on track. He is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you. Throughout the text this morning, we saw how a proper interpretation and understanding of the Old Testament will always be centered on the redemptive purpose of Jesus Christ. Thus the Old Testament provides us with rich reminders that God’s Son has always been, and will always be, the only means by which sinners have access to God’s saving mercies.
Jesus Christ IS the gospel, my friend. I do not care who you are or what you have done. If you will repent of your sin and turn to Jesus Christ this morning, He will forgive you and give you a new heart. Christ is the only way for YOU to get right with God this morning my friend.
John 12.31,32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me. This He said, signifying what death He should die.
John 3.16,17 For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved.