Today we are going to discuss the 3rd “example” that Paul offers in 1 Corinthians chapter 10.
Let me quickly remind you why this chapter is so important to me. I too often see and hear Christians pointing their finger at the world in which they live. The world is acting just as it is supposed to. The better question is, “Are you, the Christian, acting as you are supposed to?” Much of God’s judgement, that we discover in the Bible, is aimed, not at the world, but rather towards those who claim to be followers of God whose live’s reflect something else entirely.
Here is our key scripture passage for this series.
"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. These things happened as examples for us, so that we will not crave evil things as they did. So do not be idolaters, as some of them were. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” And let us not be immoral, as some of them were, and twenty-three thousand died in a single day. And let us not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by snakes. And do not complain, as some of them did, and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come. So let the one who thinks he is standing be careful that he does not fall. No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-13 (NET)
Here, Paul provides four “things that happened” (to followers of God) as examples for Christians to learn from. With each example Paul offers a quick summary and then the Biblical reference. I am going to give this four examples in list form, today we are going to look at example number 3.
- Don’t be idolaters - Exodus 32:1-29
- Don’t be immoral - Numbers 25:1-9
- Don’t complain about God’s provision - Numbers 21:1-9
- Don’t question God’s judgement - Numbers 16:20-50
Let’s first take a look at what Paul is referring to in Numbers chapter 21.
"When the Canaanite king of Arad, who lived in the Negev, heard that Israel was coming along the road to Atharim, he attacked the Israelites and captured some of them. Then Israel made this vow to the Lord: 'If you will deliver these people into our hands, we will totally destroy their cities.' The Lord listened to Israel’s plea and gave the Canaanites over to them. They completely destroyed them and their towns; so the place was named Hormah. They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, 'Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!' Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, 'We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.' So Moses prayed for the people. The Lord said to Moses, 'Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.' So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” Numbers 21:4-9 (NET)
Take a closer look at verses 1-4, what do you notice?
One thing you will discover is that the Israelites are traveling from a major victory. In these 4 verses you read about a people facing a great foe and them making a vow with God…Then God comes through for them (once again) and they experience a great victory. In short, they are coming off of a great spiritual high.
Have you discovered along your own spiritual journey what typically follows a spiritual high point?
Maybe you’ve noticed the valley on your way down? Often, in the valley we complain. Why? Because, the valley seems to be the opposite of our spiritual mountain top experience. Here is a truth that I invite you to adopt as your own.
Both the mountain top and the valley belong to the Lord.
Mature in your thinking on this subject. Move away from the attitude of praise while on the mountain top and complaining in the valley. Show God praise and respect in both places.
"There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!"
It wasn’t that God wasn’t meeting their needs. It was the fact that they didn’t approve of how God was meeting their needs. It’s like the little boy who woke up on Christmas morning to discover a band new shiny red bicycle. He looks up at his parents and says, “But I wanted a blue one."
Okay…I’m going to rant a little. Here we go.
Man does God love us. He does. He loves us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for each one of us. Think on that. God loved you so much that He let His precious Son take the place of your sin so that you could have a relationship with Himself. What I’m about to say has nothing to do with love. God loves us period.
I’m not so sure that God always likes us. Let me explain. I love my kids. But sometimes I don’t like them. Like when I get in my jeep and the back seat looks like a taco exploded. Or that time when they filled our bathtub with water and then threw every towel and pillow they could find into the water. Why? What is wrong with you people? What have we done to deserve this?
When these things happen, do I love my kids. Absolutely! But I tell you what…They ain’t getting fruit snacks! No way. And it’s not because we don’t have them. I can buy more fruit snacks then those little destroyers could ever eat. But because of their actions my fruit snacks are off limits. Am I going to feed them? Yep, three meals a day. Am I going to provide them shelter? Yep. I’m even going to shower them with hugs and kisses and tuck them in to bed at night. I do all of this because I love them. But my kids only get fruit snacks when I like them.
I think it’s similar with God. Don’t be the person who says, “But I wanted the blue bike.” Don’t live your life in a way that everywhere you go it looks like a taco exploded. Don’t drown pillows. Do you best to live your life in a way that it’s really easy for God to give you His fruit snacks. Be thankful. Be a great steward of your surroundings. In short, live your life in such a way that God looks forward to blessing your life. Okay, rant over.
Paul simply says, "let us not put Christ to the test…” If you are unhappy with your current situation I want to ask you to think on this question.
“Why are you unhappy?” And, “Why do you think you should have better?”
Your answer might reveal an area of your life that Jesus is trying to speak in to. If so, don’t rush this. Talk with God. Then, talk with a mature believer about what God is teaching you.
Have a blessed day,