Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘God’s people’

 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, 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 drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. ~1 Corinthians 10:1-5

Paul is writing to the Corinthian Church and he is telling them that spiritual blessings, advantages, and even membership with God’s people do not automatically equal God’s favor.  He points them back to their ancestors in the wilderness and proves that though they had every spiritual blessing and advantage, they did not please God.

They had a cloud and fire straight from God to follow.  They had miraculous provisions of food and drink.  We and the Corinthians have the sacraments, fellowship, membership, and provisions as well.  None of these things make us “good” with God.  None of these things make us right with God in and of themselves.  So if these things do not, what does?

The blood of Christ and obedience to him and his Word.  That is all that makes us right with God.  So, here is our warning:

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. ~1 Corinthians 10:6

These people were to serve as an example for us – so we might not stumble and fall as they did in the wilderness.  What evil is Paul speaking of?  What evil were they doing?  Because we know they were doing right things – things God honors and gives to his own people such as worship, community, baptism, spiritual things, and religious practices.  What evil were they doing in addition to the good things?  He goes on in verses 7-10 to elaborate for us.

Paul gives three main examples in verses 7-10: Idolatry, sexual immorality, and discontent and complaining.  They were worshiping false gods in addition to worshiping the One True God.  The false gods they were worshiping were self, sex, food, drink, pleasure, etc.

They were impure in sexuality – in thinking about, entertaining, and doing immoral things in regards to sexual practices.  They were not content with what God was providing – namely their own spouses, marriages and what God provided for their sexuality.  They were seeking other avenues and sexual outlets.  They were worshiping these other outlets and making them into gods by their lust and desire for them, their willingness to sacrifice to and for them, and their submission to them while failing to submit to the commands of Christ.

Furthermore, they were discontent with the food and drink provided and they were eating the food sacrificed to idols and likely participating in the idol worship itself.  They complained and grumbled generally never being satisfied with what God had provided for them so mercifully.  Just like in the desert with the manna.

In all these things – this sin they were doing right alongside their religious business – they were accused by Paul of testing Christ.  That’s why Paul takes the time to remind them of what happened to their ancestors when they did these same things testing God’s patience and grace.

He’s like hey guys…remember the snakes?  They came because the people were dissatisfied with all the great blessings God had given to them.  They were spoiled brats.  So God gave them some snakes to contend with.  He gave them something to complain about.  (Numbers 21)  They were destroyed by Satan because of their grumbling.

Why does Paul bring all this up?  He tells us in verse 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. ~1 Corinthians 10:11

These things happened for you, New Testament Church!  For you to learn from!  So you wouldn’t fall into the same temptations as those before you and be destroyed like they were!  Therefore…

THEREFORE!  Since this is for you and your instruction…

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. ~1 Corinthians 10:12-13

In other words, don’t think you’re safe.  Don’t think you cannot be tempted to the point of falling into sin and being destroyed, too.  Be on guard!  Don’t just do whatever the world is doing.  Be careful!  Your God is faithful and you will be tempted but, if you are listening for him and trusting in his provision, he will show you how to resist, how to escape,  how to obey,  and how to not fall into things that will destroy you.

THEREFORE…because these things are true…

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:14

RUN!!! Run away from idolatry!  Run away from idolaters!  You are member of Christ!  Do not participate with demons!  You cannot do both!  You will not win!  You are no match for Satan no matter how strong you think you are in the faith.  Satan is stronger than you are.  God is stronger than you are.  Stop provoking and testing him!  He does not take lightly to idolatry.  He does not wink and smile at demonic idolatry, sexual immorality, and constant complaining.

Therefore…obey him.  Participate only in that which is good and you will be in his favor.  Be careful.  Be on guard.  Imitate Christ.  What a calling!  What a high calling to strive toward.  Walk as Jesus did.  Don’t be lax in your spiritual walk.  Work out your salvation with all you’ve got because that’s what it’s going to take to be pure, faithful, and victorious as a Christian.  Amen.

Read Full Post »

sweet

No sooner do God’s people sing their great song of prayer, victory, and celebration to Him than they are led into the wilderness.  These people are on quite a journey – a grand adventure wherein they must learn how to follow the commands of a righteous, heavenly master as opposed to the unjust earthly master they had just been delivered from.  Let’s just call it an adjustment period.

They arrive in the desert and they are, not surprisingly, thirsty.  They only water they do find is bitter and undrinkable…so…because they just saw all these miracles, watched God destroy their fierce enemies, and sang for joy, they decide to pray for good water and they live happily ever after…

Fail.  Unfortunately that is not what God’s people did.  Even after all they had just seen God do for them, they allow their physical thirst to shift their focus from joy and praise to unbelief and complaining.  Even after all they had seen God do, these followers went right back to complaining.

 And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” ~Exodus 15:24

I call them “followers” because that is what they were.  Some people are leaders.  Others are followers.  One is not better than the other.  The problem was not that they were followers, it was who they were following.  When they should have been following God and his prophet, they chose to follow each other and their physical and emotional desires  dwelling upon all they could find unfortunate about their situation.  It proved a real lack of character and maturity on their part.

Fortunately, God’s people had a prophet.  Oh, wait, that was the guy they were complaining about.  Drat.  The very man whom God gave to help, to deliver, to lead, and to prophesy to them, they exasperate and burden by their abusive speech against him.  Here, they have a man who was trusting God as he led them.  Yet, they grumble against him.

Moses prayed.  Moses cried out to God on behalf of his very fearful, unbelieving, abusive followers formerly known as the joyful praisers of the Lord who sang the great victory song right along with him just three days before.

God answers Moses’ prayer miraculously.  The text says: “And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.” (Exodus 15:25)

Wait.  God “showed” the prophet a log?  A log.  What?  How does that work?  Does God just point out random objects to people and enlighten them about what he wants done with them?

I am here to tell you…Yes.  He.  Does.  God speaks to people who pray in earnest to him for the sake of others.  God is in no way limited in the means or the methods he may choose to use for the sake of his people.  God can and does use whatever he will when we are willing to listen and obey.

God can use a log.  He can use a murderer like Moses.  He can use a donkey, a tax collector, a doctor, a colt, a hate-filled Pharisee like Saul (Paul), or even, *gasp*, a GIRL if he wants to.  May he, complaining unbeliever?  May he, grumbling follower?  Just wondering.

Here, God gave his prophet practical insight and wisdom on what to do and how to do it.  The prophet obeyed and God provided.  Therefore, what was bitter and unusable became life-giving to all God’s people.  So God used an obedient, praying murderer turned prophet coupled with an inanimate object in order to work a miracle and set an extremely important precedent for his people.

It seems that change is always difficult for people.  It is one thing to follow an earthly master who threatens punishment and sure death in the instance of disobedience.  It is another to be given freedom and liberty to choose right or wrong for the sake of a life-giving, heavenly Master who has just shown you great love, grace, mercy, and favor.  Here, God clears up any misconceptions these chosen ones may have had about their responsibility to him as well as the consequences of their obedience and disobedience, respectively.  God made himself quite clear.  His message was this:

Hey, kids.  I have control over all things.  I have been extremely gracious to you.  I destroyed your enemies because of their sin.  I know it is hard to believe, but I am not going to just overlook your sin.   Listen and obey me and you will be healed and protected.  Ignore and disobey me and you will be destroyed just like your enemies.  You are no better, no different, and in no way above them.  All men are the same to me.  This is life or death.  You choose.

Matthew Henry puts it this way, “Let not the Israelites think, because God had thus highly honored them in the great things he had done for them, and had proclaimed the to all the world his favorites, that therefore he would connive at their sins and let them do as they would.  No, God is no respecter of persons; a rebellious Israelites shall fare no better than a rebellious Egyptian; and so they found, to their cost, before they got to Canaan.”  

Like I said, change is always difficult for people – especially those who have lived in harsh bondage their entire lives; especially those who have lived in positions of preference, position, and pride over their own personal heritage their entire lives. When transitioning from a slave-driving, hard task-master like Pharaoh and sin, as well as from a self-serving attitude of self-importance wherein our task-master is our own sin, to a life-giving, love-bestowing, righteous Father-master like God, we are, like they were, bound to have some misconceptions and make some mistakes.  God knew.  That is why he made himself so clear upon their entry to this wilderness.

The prophet has spoken.  The miracle has proven his prayers as effective as his words were true.  Now, God’s great mercy gives even more grace.

 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water. ~Exodus 15:27

God gave a place of rest and refreshment.  He will do the same for us if we would but trust him.

Read Full Post »

member

Here, the Lord elaborates further on the Passover commemoration instructions.  The whole company is just leaving Egypt.  God wasted no time in instructing His people on exactly who may come celebrate and how they are to carry out this grand remembrance of His mercy and greatness toward them.  Moses and Aaron are taught exactly who may eat, who may not, and a few more details on how it may and may not be eaten.  All obligations of the Passover meal point to Jesus Christ and His church.

The underlying theme for the people of God here is preparedness.  No one may come to this meal uncircumcised.  Circumcision was to the people of Israel what regeneration is to Christians.  No one can come to the table celebrating God’s great mercy and miraculous deliverance lest he be first converted and circumcised of heart.

We are shown that anyone may come as long as he is circumcised.  No foreigners may come.  No one who is a hired servant or compensated in any way for his work may come.  But every slave who has been both bought and circumcised may take part.  If there is ownership of a slave – a slave that has been purchased by the people of God – that man is as welcome at the table as a blood-born Jew.

Furthermore, they must always eat the meal inside and all together in one house.  Slaves did not eat one place and masters another.  No.  All together and never outside where foreigners or hired hands would be able to take part.  And the animals’ bones must never be broken.

Lastly, one law applied to all who ate.  The rules applied across the board.  Jews did not have special privileges over sojourners or slaves.  This must have been quite unsettling to Jews because it indicated that their privilege and position with God was based not in their bloodline, but their earnest dedication to God.

The only ones who may come to the Lord’s table are those who have been properly prepared.  Preparedness is for us, conversion.  No one who works for salvation is welcome.  Likewise, no one outside of salvation may eat at Christ’s communion table.  Yet, all are welcome if they have been purchased – bought by the blood of Christ.  Those who are owned by the Father may come freely but those who are trusting in self-sufficient works are wholly unwelcome.  Everyone is to come into one house.  Some are not relegated to a lesser, lower place because the basis of belonging is neither work related nor nepotistic in nature.  The basis of belonging to Christ is, and always has been, our true love and dedication to Him.  No favoritism has ever been condoned in the house of God.  All are bound by one law and no one has privilege or position based on anything other than their love for God and His for them.

What a beautiful picture of how the church ought to look – how God’s people ought to come to feast upon Him.  Prepared.  Grace-dependent.  Unified.  Equally honorable.  Equally honored.  Collectively submitted to a singular law based solely upon grace and our response to it.

Praise God for His mercy!  They did not have to be Jews to celebrate the Passover with equal treatment and honor in the house of God’s people.  Slave, pilgrim – no matter!  It was their house, too!  I do not have to be from a particular family or social class, structure, or group to celebrate His grace and my deliverance with equal treatment and honor in the house of God.  It is my house, too!  If He is my deliverer, I am, and always will be a full-privilege member of his company.  I am included on the merits of one condition: His faithfulness.  Praise God for his mercy toward even me – a weary sojourner who has absolutely nothing but the blood (His – not mine!) to bank on!

Read Full Post »