1 Corinthians 10:1-13 (ESV)
1For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil 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 rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Paul is reminding the Corinthians of the mistakes made by the Israelites while they were wandering in the desert. Reading the Old Testament is a beautiful reminder that God is a god of redemption. He continued to lead and guide the Israelites even when they were disobedient and rebellious and He does the same for us. However, there is a cost for disobedience and rebellion.
In this passage, Paul addresses three specific issues the Israelites had. The first is that they were idolaters. J Ellsworth Kalas says, “Priority is another name for God. When we draw up our little list of things that matter most, that which we designate Number One is god. Whether or not it is God with a capital G is another matter.” What is Number One on your priority list? If it isn’t God, it is an idol.
Paul also addresses sexual immorality. Look at what Jesus has to say in Matthew 5:27-28:
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Does this explanation challenge what you thought was sinful in regards to sexual immorality?
The third area addressed by Paul is grumbling. Grumbling doesn’t seem like a very big deal, but it can be. Look what Paul says in 2 Philippians 2:14:
Do all things without grumbling or disputing,
When the Israelites grumbled against the Lord some of them were destroyed. Grumbling may not seem like a big deal but it can spread quickly and cause others to be discontent.
Lord, We are blessed that the You always provides a way out from our temptations. Help us to recognize your way out and take it. Amen.