For hundreds of years the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt. When Moses appeared to lead them out of slavery he showed the Israelites the power of God.
The ten plagues showed that God was not only powerful but more powerful than all the gods of Egypt. After the tenth plague, the death of the first-born, the Egyptians couldn’t get the Israelites out of their land fast enough. Even when it appeared that the Pharaoh with his army had the Israelites trapped against the Dead Sea, God came to the rescue and not only delivered them but destroyed the Pharaoh’s army.
You would have thought with all the evidence in front of them that the Israelites would have been faithful to God no matter what happened. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.
“For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they were all drinking from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. But God was not pleased with most of them, for they were cut down in the wilderness” (1 Corinthians 10:1-5 NET).
Notice what Paul wrote about the Israelites: they all passed through the sea, they all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and the sea, they all ate the same spiritual food, they all drank the same spiritual drink. God provided everything they needed: food, water, and protection. But God wasn’t pleased with most of them – they ended up dying during the forty years of wandering through the wilderness. What was the problem?
Paul wrote that “These things happened as examples for us, so that we will not crave evil things as they did” (1 Corinthians 10:6). In other words, we need to pay attention to what they did wrong so that we do not repeat the same mistakes. So, what was it that they did wrong?
If you read through the next few verses we discover that some were idolaters. Even though God had defeated all the Egyptian gods, represented by various idols, some were still smitten with these idols. Perhaps they liked something they could see over a God who was invisible. Some were putting the Lord to the test, despite seeing his power. Others just complained. Nothing was ever good enough. The problem was that they were just playing at following God.
How many Christians today are just as bad? Despite clearly warning against such things as sexual immorality, jealousy, anger, selfish rivalries, division, envy, drunkenness and anything like these things (Galatians 5:19-21), how many Christians get involved in these? Paul clearly states that these are the works of the flesh and those who live by the Spirit will not carry out the desires of the flesh.
Yet how many of those who portray that they are “spiritual” are the very ones involved in some of these things? One of the big societal problems we have in Scotland is alcohol abuse, yet more and more Christians desire alcohol and even go over the limit to becoming drunk. This is not being led by the Spirit but is being involved in the works of the flesh. This could be applied to other areas pointed out by Paul, as well.
We must no longer play at being a Christian. We are either being led by the Spirit or we want the desires of the flesh. We cannot have both. Whose side are you on?
Readings for next week:
16 May – 1 Corinthians 14
17 May – 1 Corinthians 15:1-28
18 May – 1 Corinthians 15:29-58
19 May – 1 Corinthians 16
20 May – 2 Corinthians 1