I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.1 Corinthians 10:1-5
Did you catch my subtle clue yesterday? “Why he seems to be lost in the WILDERNESS?” Because Paul’s thoughts have gone back to the things Israel struggled with in the wilderness.
- 1 Cor 10:6 – “so that we won’t set our hearts on evil as they did.”
- 1 Cor 10:7 “Let us stop being idolaters, as some of them were”
- 1 Cor 10:8 “Let us stop sinning sexually, as some of them were doing”
- 1 Cor 10:9 “Let us stop putting the Lord to the test, as some of them were doing”
- 1 Cor 10:10 “You must stop complaining, as some of them were doing”
Can you see that all of these things: hearts set on evil, being idolaters, sinning sexually, putting the Lord to the test, complaining were all happening among the Corinthians when Paul was writing the letter. Little wonder that Paul’s thoughts turn to the Israelites in the wilderness as he outlines the issues again for the Corinthians. These must have been big issues for those in Corinth because Paul returns to these issues again and again. We saw in early Gems Paul has spent chapter after chapter on complaining, church in-fighting, sexual sin etc. Paul has not lost his way. His purpose is still front and centre.
Now in this passage before us today there are some very interesting elements for you to solve if you are going to understand what Paul is saying.
- guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them,
- walked through the sea on dry ground.
- In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses.
- All of them ate the same spiritual food,
- all of them drank the same spiritual water.
- the spiritual rock that travelled with them, and that rock was Christ.
What is Paul doing here? What is the background to these comments? How do we understand them? Your homework for tonight? I am merely pointing out where to dig. Go to it.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.Walt Emerson
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.Ralph Waldo Emerson