Wednesday, May 20, 2015, 7:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read 1 Corinthians 7-10. I believe the Lord Jesus would have me focus on chapter 10 this morning.
The Rock was Christ
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, 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 were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
The deliverance of the children of Israel out of slavery in Egypt was a prefiguring of our deliverance out of slavery to sin. They were required to put the blood of a 1 year old unblemished male lamb (or goat) on their doorposts so that when God went throughout the land of Egypt and killed all the firstborn males (human and beast) their lives would be spared. This is a prefiguring of Jesus Christ, as our perfect sacrificial Lamb, who shed his own blood on the cross for our sins, and of our need to apply his blood sacrifice for our sins to our individual lives by faith in Jesus Christ. It was after this that Pharaoh, whose rule over the people was symbolic of Satan’s rule over human lives in enslaving them to sin, did let them go, only not for long, for he soon pursued them, as Satan does us, because he wants us back. But God rescued his children from Pharaoh’s grasp, as he also rescues us.
The children of Israel were baptized into Moses, a prefiguring of Christ. Their passing through the sea is symbolic of our new birth in Christ Jesus via the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts in regeneration. This is the baptism of the Spirit of which John the Baptist spoke when he said that one would come after him (Jesus Christ) who would baptize us with the Spirit and with fire (purification, cleansing of sin). They had to walk through that sea by faith, though, and they had to follow their leader. Their eating of the manna from heaven and drinking water from the rock was also symbolic of our union and fellowship with Jesus Christ by God’s grace, through faith in Christ, and represents both our participation with Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection, via death to sin and resurrection by the Spirit to new lives in Christ Jesus, and our walks of faith in the Spirit in abiding in Christ and in his Word and in allowing the Spirit of God to fill us and to empower us and to strengthen us from on high so we can walk no longer according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Their Promised Land, which is where they were headed, was a prefiguring of our promised land, which is our eternal life with God in heaven. For those believing (present, continuous) in Jesus, we are promised eternal life with God in glory. Yet, God was not pleased with most of his children whom he delivered out of slavery to Egypt, so their bodies were scattered in the wilderness, and they did not get to enter the promised land for they had sinned against God and were disobedient to God and to his servant Moses, and thus were not able to enter due to unbelief (See: Heb. 3).
As Examples for Us
Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 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.
So, how are these examples to us who are in Christ Jesus by faith in him? What is the purpose or the object of the examples? What lessons are we supposed to learn from this? Why tell us about the punishment that came upon the children of Israel due to their sins against God and because of their stubborn and unrepentant hearts? Why mention the fact that God was not pleased with most of them and so they died in the wilderness and never did get to enter into God’s rest? If we were saved (past), and we are promised heaven (future), and it is a sure thing no matter what happens in between, then what’s the big deal? We have our ticket into heaven guaranteed, right? So, what exactly are we being warned about then? (No disrespect intended… working on making a point here.)
The experiences of the children of Israel here serve as examples to us so we don’t set our hearts on evil as they did. So, what’s the examples given? In only one of them is the example given of the degree to which our sin can escalate if we keep setting (continue to set) our hearts on evil, as they did. This example suggests one has wandered far away from God and from that pure relationship with him which he has provided for us through his death and resurrection, and is ours through our faith in him. The other three examples given are all ones of punishment by death. So, how is that supposed to encourage us? It sounds more like a threat, doesn’t it? (No disrespect intended here… just trying to make a point). So, what is the purpose of a warning? It is “a statement that tells a person that bad or wrong behavior will be punished if it happens again; something (such as an action or a statement) that tells someone about possible danger or trouble” (M-W Dictionary).
“So,” Paul said, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” Fall how? Fall into sin? Fall from grace? What kind of fall? Fall from our pure devotion to our Lord Jesus? Certainly this teaches us that Christians are still capable of sin, so we should not be so high and mighty in thinking that now that we are under God’s grace that we could never fall into sin again. When we begin to think we are better than other people and that “I would NEVER do that!” then we better be prepared because our pride has blinded us and therefore Satan will use that to sneak in through our back doors and tempt us, and we will be most vulnerable to giving in to temptation because we didn’t have our guards up, and thus we didn’t take the way out Jesus provided for us, because we think “We can handle this.” Wrong! We can’t! But, Jesus can and has and will. So, what can we learn from the rest of the teachings of the apostles which will help us understand what this is teaching us?
I think we first of all need to have the correct understanding of our salvation. First of all, the faith that saves us is both repentant and obedient. It turns from living for sin and turns to walk in faithful obedience to Jesus Christ, all in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us in transforming our lives to make them more like Jesus, as we cooperate fully with that work (See: Luke 9:23-25; John 6:35-65; 10:27-30; Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 8:3-14; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 2:8-10; 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; 1 Pet. 2:24-25; & 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
We need to also understand that eternal life is only guaranteed to those “believing” (present-continuous verb tense in the original Greek) in Jesus (See: Jn. 3:16; 5:24; 6:35; 7:38; Ac. 10:43; Ro. 1:16; 9:33; 10:4; 1 Pet. 2:6), i.e. to those who continue in their faith until the end (See: John 8:31-32; Romans 11:17-24; I Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; II Tim 2:10-13; Hebrews 3:6, 14-15; 2 Pet. 1:5-11; I John 2:24-25). Jesus said his sheep listen to him, he knows them, and they follow (obey) him, and no one can snatch THEM out of his hand.
And, we need to understand that salvation is past (have been saved), present-continuous (are being saved) and future (will be saved) – See: Ro. 8:24; 13:11; 1 Co. 1:18; 15:1-2; 2 Co. 2:15; Eph. 2:5; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; Heb. 5:9; 9:28; 1 Pet. 1:5, 8-9. In other words, our salvation will not be complete until Jesus Christ returns for his bride.
At the very least, these examples and warnings are for the purpose to show us how easily ones who have been miraculously delivered out of bondage, and had every physical and spiritual need of theirs cared for, can fall back into sin because they didn’t trust their Lord but sought to control their own lives and destiny. They also serve to warn us against spiritual pride and thinking that we have somehow arrived and that there is no danger of us falling into sin now that we have been saved by grace, or just because we think we are somehow better or superior than others and thus would NEVER do such and such. We are just asking for a fall into sin. Don’t ever say “NEVER!” It may come back to bite you.
Yet, I believe the context suggests something much more severe than just a warning against falling into sin because we weren’t smart. Certainly it may suggest natural consequences of the error of our ways, but these were not natural consequences the children of Israel faced. They were judgments of Almighty God for their rebellion, their idolatry, their disobedience, their willful sinning against him, and for their refusal to humble themselves before him in repentance and in obedience.
This may speak only of divine discipline and correction, yet the point was made that most of them did not enter into his rest (which is now our salvation) because of their unbelief. So, certainly this could be addressing nominal Christians who think they have their ticket into heaven but who have never truly been born again. Yet, on the basis of saving belief being present-continuous, and on the basis of salvation being past, present-continuous and future (not complete until Jesus returns), and on the basis that we are not promised eternal life if we do not continue in our faith, I would suggest the reason for this warning is that we should not be arrogant, but be afraid, for if he could cut off the Jews, he can cut us off, too (See: Ro. 11:17-22).
Flee From Idolatry
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; you judge what I say. Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. Look at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in the altar? What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?
I believe this summarizes the above well. When we come to faith in Jesus Christ, by God’s grace, and we die to sin and are resurrected to new lives in Christ Jesus, by the power and working of the Spirit of God in giving us new birth, we partake with Christ in his death and resurrection (the table of the Lord; the cup of the Lord). So, if we continue in sin, after having made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ, we are attempting to participate in both the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Our Lord is a jealous God. He did not save us from sin so we would turn around and keep on sinning. He died so we would no longer live for sin but for him who died for us; so we might die to sin and live to righteousness. We can’t put our feet in both worlds and expect to be ok. God is calling out to his church, and to those who make profession only of faith in him, and he is calling them to repent of their sins and to walk in faithful obedience to him. And, I believe we should take these warnings seriously and not write them off as though they don’t apply to us. They are there for a reason. We need to find out the reason and do what God requires of us from now on.
Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty / Heber / Dykes
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
Early in the morning our song shall rise to thee.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity!
Holy, holy, holy! All the saints adore thee,
Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea;
Cherubim and seraphim falling down before thee,
Which wert, and art, and evermore shalt be.
Holy, holy, holy! Though the darkness hide thee,
Though the eye of sinful man thy glory may not see,
Only thou art holy; there is none beside thee,
Perfect in power, in love and purity.
Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!
All thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea.
Holy, holy, holy! Merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.