“For Our Example” 06/18/17
People learn in different ways. Some can simply read directions and have a good idea of how to do something. Usually it’s more effective to be able to watch someone do it and then follow their example. The same is true with being a Christian.
It’s not easy being a disciple. Fortunately, God provides us help along the way. The Bible is our best source of teaching, correction, direction, and encouragement. One of the ways it does this is by giving us examples.
Just before our passage, Paul said that although all the Israelites followed Moses, crossed the Red Sea, were led by the cloud, ate the manna, and drank the water from the rock, God was not pleased with most of them and they died. They provide an example for us not to follow but to learn from their mistakes.
1 Corinthians 10:6–11 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 the Lord, 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. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.
Occurred as examples for us – God allowed these things to happen, and inspired the writers of Scripture to include them in the Bible, so that we would have examples to teach us.
Otto von Bismark is quoted as saying, “Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”
This is what Paul is trying to say to the church in Corinth, and to us. Don’t be like the Israelites we read about.
This message is important for us today as well. Just as everyone in the church may be baptized, take communion, or attend worship, it doesn’t mean that God is pleased with all. The real indicator of our relationship with God is how we live our lives on a daily basis. This is why Paul goes on to make it clear exactly how we are not to live.
Keep us from setting our hearts on evil things – want in a self-indulgent manner.
Colossians 3:1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
The world is constantly pulling us to put our hearts on material thing, to indulge our own desires.
Do not be idolaters – put something other than God first
The golden calf (Exo 32:1–6)
The people of Israel thought they could worship God but still follow the practices they used to follow. They wanted God and …
Jesus quoted Isa. 29:13 when he said, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.’
Do not be immoral –
The Moabite women (Num 25:1) – enticed to pagan worship
At the time of the Exodus, and in Paul’s day. Idol worship was closely associated with sexual immorality.
Do not test God – challenge God to prove Himself
Demanding food they craved (Num 21:5–6, Psa. 78:18)
Even though God had been providing manna for them, the people were getting tired of the same thing, day after day, they were bored with what God gave them and wanted something different. Some wanted to go back to Egypt, to the good old days, the way things used to be.
Try to see how far we can go with God and get away with it.
Do not grumble – complaining shows lack of trust in God
People grumbled against Moses, didn’t like the way things were done (Num 16:41–50)
Moses was simply telling them what God had said, but it wasn’t what they wanted to hear. Some of them thought they knew better than Moses what God wanted.
In each case judgment came.
Warnings for us
At the site of Dachau concentration camp near Munich, Germany, is a museum containing relics from the camp, as well as grim photos depicting conditions there during the war years. There is a sign next to the exit that reads: “Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat its mistakes.”
The same idea was in Paul’s mind in this passage. The mistakes the Israelites made were cited by the apostle to serve as a reminder and warning, much as the sign at Dachau was.