We can learn from Israel's mistakes! They were written down to warn us so that we will not crave evil things! That is why the Old Testament is SO important to read. In this particular passage, Paul is referring back to Israel's escape from slavery in Egypt when God led them by cloud and brought them through the Red Sea and wilderness (Exodus 12:31-18:27).
Paul states in 10:2 that the Israelites were all "baptized into Moses." This means that just as we are united to Christ in baptism (1 Corinthians 12:13), the Israelites were under Moses when he led them out of Egypt and through the wilderness (Exodus 14:31; John 5:45).
1 Corinthians 10:4 says that the "rock was Christ (the Messiah)." This means that Christ was the source of the supernaturally provided water that the Israelites enjoyed in the wilderness (Exodus 17:16; Numbers 20:8-13).
Israelite incidences that Paul mentions as a way of warning are:
- Making and worship of the Golden Calf - Exodus 32
- Worship of Baal of Peor and sexual immorality with Moabite women - Numbers 25:1-9
- Complaining about food - Numbers 21:5, 6
- Complaining against Moses and Aaron - Numbers 14:2, 36; 16:41-50
- The destroying angel - Exodus 12:23
Paul's bottom line warning is preceded by a "therefore" (which means "in conclusion"):
Specifically, Paul warned them to not eat the food sacrificed to idols in pagan worship. Israel ate part of the sacrifice to God as a way of restoring unity with God in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 12:17-18). Likewise, believers in Jesus commemorate the once for all sacrifice of Christ when they eat the bread and drink the wine symbolizing His body and blood, uniting with Him and with each other. Eating food sacrificed to idols in the pagan temples was like being united to demons and a follower of Jesus could not do that!
Paul concludes the chapter with an acknowledgement of a believer's freedom in making decisions about sensitive issues. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to allow their freedom to be regulated by love for God and their neighbor (Luke 10:27), doing all for the glory of God. I have included a list of questions to help you in making wise choices in sensitive issues below.
All of us make hundreds of choices every day. Most choices have no right or wrong attached to them -- like what you wear or what you eat. But we always face decisions that carry a little more weight. We don't want to do wrong, and we don't want to cause others to do wrong, so how can we make such decisions?
If I choose one course of action:
- does it help my witness for Christ? (9:19-22)
- am I motivated by a desire to help others to know Christ? (9:23; 10:33)
- does it help me do my best? (9:25)
- is it against a specific command in Scripture and would thus cause me to sin? (10:12)
- is it the best and most beneficial course of action? (10:23,33)
- am I thinking only of myself, or do I truly care about the other person? (10:24)
- am I acting lovingly or selfishly? (10:28-31)
- does it glorify God? (10:31)
- will it cause someone else to sin? (10:32)
APPLICATION:(The Life Application Bible, p.2079)
Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13 in your favorite translation:
No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.This verse is part of the Topical Memory System that I have recommended before and cannot recommend highly enough! If you do not want to buy the system and want to write verses on cards for yourself, you can find all the verses in the system HERE (just click on the buttons and a "verse card" pops up!)
Thank You, Lord, that You are a faithful God who does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able and always provides a way of escape from temptation. Help us to learn from Israel's mistakes when making decisions. May we choose to take Your way out in every situation! Amen.