I Corinthians 10   

 

                        Warnings Against Over-Confidence in Relation to Idolatry

                                                and Other Temptations (vs. 1-14)

 

 

 

 

1 “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all

our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;"  Moreover.

rather, for. He has just shown them, by his own example, the necessity for strenuous

watchfulness and effort. In continuance of the same lesson, he teaches them historically

that the possession of great privileges is no safeguard, and that the seductions, even of

idolatry, must not be carelessly despised. Although the connection of the various

paragraphs is not stated with logical precision, we see that they all bear on the one

truth which he wants to inculcate, namely, that it is both wise and kind to limit our

personal freedom out of sympathy with others.  The reading (δὲ - de - but; morever)

is probably a correction of the true reading (γὰρ - gar - for), due to the failure to

understand the whole train of thought. I would not that ye should be ignorant.

This is a favorite phrase of Paul’s (ch.12:1; II Corinthians 1:8; Romans 1:13; 11:25;

I Thessalonians 4:13).  The ignorance to which he refers is not ignorance of the facts,

but of the meaning of the facts. All our fathers.  He repeats the “all” five times,

because he wishes to show that, though “all” partook of spiritual blessings, most

(v. 5) fell in spite of them. He says, our fathers,” not only because he was himself

a Jew, but also because the patriarchs and the Israelites were spiritually the fathers

of the Christian Church.  Were under the cloud.  The compressed Greek phrase

implies that they went under it, and remained under its shadow. The "cloud" is the

"pillar of cloud" (Exodus 13:21), of which David says, "He spread a cloud for a

covering" (Psalm 105:39). The Book of Wisdom of Solomon 10:17 calls it

"a cover unto them by day," and (19:7) "a cloud shadowing the camp."  All

passed through the sea (Exodus 14:22).

 

2 "And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;"

Were all baptized.  This reading, though well supported, may, perhaps,

be a correction for the middle, "they baptized themselves," i.e. accepted baptism.

The passing under the cloud (Exodus 14:19) and through the sea, constituting as it

did their deliverance from bondage into freedom, their death to Egypt, and their

birth to a new covenant, was a general type or dim shadow of Christian baptism

(compare our collect, "figuring thereby thy holy baptism"). But the typology is

quite incidental; it is the moral lesson which is paramount. Unto Moses; rather,

into. By this "baptism" they accepted Moses as their Heaven-seat guide and teacher.

 

3 "And did all eat the same spiritual meat;"  As the cloud and the Red Sea

symbolized the waters of baptism, so the manna and the water of the rock

symbolized the elements of the other Christian sacrament, the Lord’s Supper.

The manna might be called “a spiritual food,” both because it was “angels’ food” 

and “bread from heaven” - (Psalm 78:24-25; John 6:31), and also because it was

a type of God’s good Spirit,” which He “gave to instruct them” (Nehemiah 9:20).

Paul only knows of two sacraments. 

 

4 "And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that

spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

The same spiritual drink.  The water from the smitten rock might (Exodus 17:6;

Numbers 20:11) be called a “spiritual” drink, both as being a miraculous gift

(compare Galatians 4:29, where Isaac is said to be "born after the spirit"), and

as being a type of that “living water” which “springs up into everlasting life”

(John 7:37-38), and of the blood of Christ in the Eucharist (John 6:55). These

waters in the wilderness’’ and “rivers in the desert” were a natural symbol

of the grace of God (Isaiah 43:20; 55:1), especially as bestowed in the sacrament

through material signs.  They drank; literally, they were drinking, implying a

continuous gift. Of that spiritual Rock that followed them; rather, literally,

of a spiritual following Rock. This is explained:

 

(1) as a mere figure of speech, in which the natural rock which Moses smote

      is left out of sight altogether; and

 

(2) as meaning that not the rock, but the water from the rock, followed after

      them in their wanderings (Deuteronomy 9:21).

 

There can, however, be little or no doubt that Paul refers to the common Jewish

Hagadah, that the actual material rock did follow the Israelites in their wanderings.

The rabbis said that it was round, and rolled itself up like a swarm of bees, and that,

when the tabernacle was pitched, this rock came and settled in its vestibule, and

began to flow when the princes came to it and sang, "Spring up, O well; sing

ye unto it" (Numbers 21:17). It does not, of course, follow from this allusion

that Paul, or even the rabbis, believed their Hagadah in other than a metaphorical

sense.    The Jewish Hagadoth - legends and illustrations and inferences of an

imaginative Oriental people - are not to be taken au pied de la letter (to take

things at face value). Paul obviates the laying of any stress on the mere legend

by the qualifying word, "a spiritual Rock." And that Rock was Christ. The

writings of Philo, and the Alexandrian school of thought in general, had

familiarized all Jewish readers with language of this kind. They were accustomed

to see types of God, or of the Word (Logos), in almost every incident of the

deliverance from Egypt and the wanderings in the wilderness. Thus in Wisdom

of Solomon 10:15 and 11:4 it is Wisdom - another form of the Logos - who leads

and supports the Israelites. The frequent comparison, of God to a Rock in the Old

Testament (Deuteronomy 32, passim; I Samuel 2:2; Psalm 91:12, etc.) would render

the symbolism more easy, especially as in Exodus 17:6 we find, "Behold, I [Jehovah]

will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb."      

 

 5 "But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown

in the wilderness.”  With many of them.  Rather, with most of them.  A quotation

from the Septuagint of Numbers 14:16. All but Caleb and Joshua perished

(Numbers 26:64-65; comp. Jude 1:5). In Hebrews 3:17 the word used is “they fell.”

 

6 "Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil

things, as they also lusted.” These things were our examples. If this rendering be

adopted, perhaps "examples" is the best equivalent of the original τύπο - tupoi -, as

in Philippians 3:17, "Walk so as ye have us for an example (τύπον tupon - )."

It may, however, mean "types," i.e. foreshadowing symbols, as in Romans 5:14,

where Adam is the "figure" (τύποςtupostype; model; ensample) of Christ. But,

in spite of Alford's decisive rejection of it, the rendering, "Now in these things they

proved to be figures of us," is at least equally probable.  To the intent.  Of course,

the events had their own immediate instruction, but the example which they involved

was the ulterior purpose of their being so ordained by the providence of God. 

As they also lusted. (For quails, Numbers 11:4, 33; and see Psalm 95:7-11.)

 

7 "Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat

down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” - As were some of them.  As in the

case of the golden calf, the worship of Moloch, Remphan, Baal-peor, etc. In the

prominent instance of the calf worship, they (like the Corinthians) would have put

forth sophistical pleas in their own favor, saying that they were not worshipping

idols, but only paying honor to cherubic emblems of Jehovah. To play.  The word

is, perhaps, used euphemistically for the worst concomitants of asensual nature

worship (Exodus 32:3-6), which resembled the depraved and orgiastic

worship of Aphrodite Pandemos at Corinth. 

 

8 "Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and

fell in one day three and twenty thousand."  Commit fornication.  This sin

was not only an ordinary accompaniment of idolatry, but often a consecrated

part of it, as in the case of the thousand hierodouloi, or female attendants, in

the temple of Aphrodite on Acro-Corinthus. Three and twenty thousand. 

(Quite a large number of people died just because “everybody was doing it” –

CY – 2010)  The number given in Numbers 25:9 is twenty-four  thousand.

We cannot give any account of the discrepancy. 

 

9 "Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed

of serpents."  Tempt Christ.   (see the note on v. 4).Christ is here identified with the

angel which went before the Israelites, whom they were specially warned not “to

provoke,” because “my Name is in Him” (Exodus 23:20-21).  Another reading is

"the Lord." "Christ" may have come in from a marginal gloss. On the other hand, since

"Christ" is the more difficult reading, it was, perhaps, the more likely to be altered by

copyists. The word for “tempt” means “tempt utterly,” “tempt beyond endurance.”

As some of them.   (Exodus 17:2, 7; Numbers 14:22; 21:5-6) – and were destroyed

of serpents.”  - rather, perished by the serpents, viz. the “fiery serpents” of the

wilderness (Numbers 21:6).  (I recommend

Spurgeon Sermon – NUMBER 1500, OR LIFTING UP THE BRAZEN SERPENT

this website - #6 – CY  - 2018)

 

10 Neither murmur ye,  as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed

of the destroyer.” – Neither murmur ye.  (Numbers 14:2,29; 16:41,49). The

Corinthians were at this time murmuring against their teacher and apostle. 

Of the destroyer. All plagues and similar great catastrophes, as well as all individual

deaths, were believed by the Jews to be the work of an angel whom they called

Sammael (see Exodus 12:23; II Samuel 24:16; Job 33:22; II Maccabees 15:22). In the

retribution narrated in Numbers 16:41, fourteen thousand seven hundred perished.

 

11 "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they

are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world

are come."   For ensamples.  Literally, by way of figure; typically. The rabbis

said, "Whatever happened to the fathers is a sign to their children." The thought

is the same as in Romans 15:4, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime were

written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of scriptures might

have hope.”  The example in this instance would come home more forcibly from

the sickness and mortality then prevalent among the Corinthian Christians (ch. 11:30).

The ends of the world.  Rather, of the ages. The expression is in accordance with

the view which regarded the then epoch as “the close or consummation of the ages”

(Matthew 13:39; I Peter. 4:7, “The end of all things is at hand;  I John 2:18,

“It is the last time;” Hebrews 9:26). 

 

12 “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” 

Take heed lest he fall. The Corinthians, thinking that they stood, asserting that they

all had knowledge, proud of the insight which led them to declare that "an idol is

nothing in the world," were not only liable to underrate the amount of forbearance

due to weaker consciences, but were also in personal danger of falling away. To them,

as to the Romans, Paul means to say, "Be not highminded, but fear" (Romans 11:20).

 

13 "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man:

but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above

that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to

escape, that ye may be able to bear it."  But such as is common to man:

rather, except such as is human; i.e. such as man can bear. The last verse was a

warning; this is an encouragement. Having just heard what efforts even Paul had

to make to run in the Christian race, and how terribly their fathers in the wilderness

had failed to meet the requirements of God, they might be inclined to throw up

every effort in despair. Paul, therefore, reminds them that these temptations were

not superhuman, but were such as men had resisted, and such as they could resist –

but  God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able” - 

God is faithful.   He had called them (ch.1:9), and since He knew “how to deliver the

godly out of temptations” (II Peter 2:9), Notice also, that God knows how “to

reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” - He would surely

perform His side of the covenant, and, if they did their parts, would stablish and

keep them from evil (II Thessalonians 3:3). Also.  The mode of deliverance shall

be ready simultaneously with the temptation – “but will with the temptation also

make a way to escape” - rather, the way to escape. The way to escape is different

in different temptations, but for each temptation God would provide the special

means of escaping it – “that ye may be able to bear it.”  Elijah was a man of like

passions as we are “and he prayed” (James 5:17) and God worked for him.  

 

14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.”  Wherefore. As a result

of the whole reasoning, which has been meant to inspire the weak with a more

liberalizing knowledge, and the strong with a more fraternal sympathy. Dearly beloved.

The word "dearly" should be omitted. Flee from idolatry. The original implies that

they were to turn their backs on idolatry, and so fly from it.

 

 

 

    The Inherent Disgracefulness of any Tampering with Idolatry

(vs. 15-22)

 

15 "I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say."  An appeal to their own reason

to confirm his argument (compare ch.11:13), perhaps with a touch of irony in the

first clause (ch. 4:10; II Corinthians 11:19). The word for "I say" is φημι  - phaemi

I affirm.

 

 

16 "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of

Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of

Christ?"  The cup of blessing. A translation of the name cos haberachah

(compare Psalm 116:13), over which a blessing was invoked by the head of the

family after the Passover. The name is here transferred to the chalice in the Eucharist,

over which Christ "gave thanks" (ch. 11:24; Matthew 26:27). There seems to be a

close connection between the idea of "blessing" (εὐλογήσαςeulogaesas) Matthew

26:26; Mark 14:22) and "giving thanks" (εὐχαριστήσας eucharistaesas - Luke

22:19), and here, as always, Paul and Luke resemble each other in their expressions.

The communion of.   Literally, a participation in. By means of the cup we realize

our share in the benefits wrought by Christ's precious blood shedding. The cup is

at once a symbol and a medium. The blood of Christ; of which the wine is the

sacramental symbol. By rightly drinking the wine, we spiritually partake of the

blood of Christ, we become sharers in His Divine life. The bread; perhaps rather,

the loaf, which was apparently passed from hand to hand, that each might break

off a piece. Is it not the communion of the body of Christ? The best comment

on the verse is John 6:41-59, in which our Lord taught that there could be no

true spiritual life without the closest union with Him and incorporation into

His life.

 

17 "For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers

of that one bread.” - We being many are one bread, and one body. It is easy to

see how we are "one body," of which Christ is the Head, and we are the members.

This is the metaphor used in ch. 12:12-13 and Romans 12:5. The more difficult

expression, "we are one bread," is explained in the next clause. The meaning seems

to be  - We all partake of the loaf, and thereby become qualitatively, as it were, a part

of it, as it of us, even as we all become members of Christ’s one body, which that

loaf sacramentally represents.  Some commentators, disliking the harshness of the

expression, render it, "Because there is one bread, we being many are one body;"

or, "For there is one bread. We being many are one body." But the language and

context support the rendering of our version; and the supposed "physiology"

is not so modern as to be at all surprising.

 

18 "Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices

partakers of the altar?" Partakers of the altar. It is better to render it “Have they

not communion with the altar? for the word is different from that in the last verse.

The meaning is that, by sharing in the sacrifices, the Jews stood in direct association

with the altar, the victims, and all that they symbolized (Deuteronomy 12:27). 

And Paul implied that the same thing is true of those who by sympathetically

partook of idol-offerings.

 

19 "What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in

sacrifice to idols is any thing?"  What say I then? What is it, then, which I am

maintaining (φημιsee v. 15)? That the idol is anything. Paul repudiates an

inference which he had already denied (ch. 8:4). Is anything. Has any intrinsic

value, meaning, or importance. In itself, the idol offering is a mere dead, indifferent

thing. Of itself, the idol is an εἴδωλόν - eidolonidol - a shadowy, unreal thing, one

of the elilim; but in another aspect it was "really something," and so alone could the

rabbis account for phenomena which seemed to imply the reality of infernal miracles

('Avoda Zarah,' fol. 54, 2; 55, 1; and see note in 'Life of St. Paul,' 2:74).

 

20 "But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice

to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have

fellowship with devils."  But.  The word rejects the former hypothesis.

"[No I do not admit that], but what I say is that," etc. They sacrifice to devils,

and not to God.  The word “demons” should be used, not “devils” (Deuteronomy

32:17). The argument is that, though the idol is nothing — a mere stock or stone —

it is yet the material symbol of a demon (see Psalms 96:5; 106:37; Baruch 4:7).

So Milton;

 

"And devils to adore for deities;

Then were they known to men by various names,

And various idols through the heathen world,...

The chief were those who, from the pit of hell,

Roaming to seek their prey on earth, durst fix

Their seats long after next the seat of God,

Their altars by his altar, gods adored

Among the nations round."

(Paradise Lost,' 1.)

 

Paul uses a word which, while it would not be needlessly offensive to Gentiles,

conveyed his meaning. The Greeks themselves called their deities δαιμονία

daimoniademons -  in the singular - δαιμον from δαίω daio - to

distribute fortunes; a daemon or supernatural spirit (of a bad nature): 

Paul adopts the word; but to Jewish ears it meant, not “deities” or “demigods,”

but “demons.”

 

21 "Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be

partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils."  Ye cannot. It is a

moral impossibility that you should. The Lord's table. This is the first instance

in which this expression is used, and it has originated the name. The table of devils

(see Deuteronomy 32:37-38).

 

22 "Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than He?"

Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?” - (Deuteronomy 32:21 – They have

moved me to jealousy by that which is not God”). The expression, “a jealous God”

is used in the second commandment with express reference to idolatry, as in

Exodus 34:14-16.  Are we stronger than He?  Can we, therefore, with impunity,

kindle His anger against us?  He is… mighty in strength: who hath hardened

himself against Him, and hath prospered?” (Job 9:4)

 

 

 

Directions About Eating Idol-Offerings, Founded on these Principles

(vs. 23-11:1)

 

23 "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things

are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”  All things are lawful for me

(see ch. 6:12). The "for me" is not found in א, A, B, C, D. Paul repeats the

assertion and its limitations, because he has now proved their force. He has

shown that Christian liberty must be modified by considerations of expediency

and edification in accordance with the feelings of sympathy and charity.

 

24 "Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.”  But every

man another's wealth. The addition of the word "wealth" is very infelicitous.

Rather, as in the Revised Version, but each his neighbor's good (compare v. 33 and

Romans 15:2).

 

25 "Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for

conscience sake:"  Whatsoever is sold. By this practical rule of common sense

he protects the weak Christian from being daily worried by over scrupulosity.

This is a rule of common sense.  If a Christian merely bought his meat in the open

market, no one could suspect him of meaning thereby to connive at or show favor

to idolatry. It would, therefore, be needless for him to entertain fantastic scruples

about a matter purely indifferent. The fact of its forming part of an idol 

offering made no intrinsic difference in the food. Shambles; rather food market.

Do not trouble your conscience by scruples arising from needless investigation

(ἀνακρίνοντεςanakrinontes - examining) about the food. 

 

26 "For the earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof.”  For the earth is

the Lord's (Psalm 24:1).  Consequently, “Every creature of God is good, and

nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving” (I Timothy 4:4).

The text formed the ordinary Jewish “grace before meat.” The fullness thereof.

The plenitude of its created furniture - plants, animals, etc.

 

27 "If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go;

whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake."

Bid you to a feast. It is assumed that the feast is to take place in a private house,

not an idol temple (ch. 8:10). Ye be disposed to go; rather, ye wish to go, with an

emphasis on the "wish," which, as Grotius says, perhaps implies that the wish is

not particularly commendable, although the apostle, in his large-hearted tolerance,

does not actually blame it. The rabbis decided very differently. "If," said Rabbi

Ishmael, "an idolater makes a feast in honor of his son, and invites all the Jews

of his town, they eat of the sacrifices of the dead, even though they eat and drink

of their own" ('Avodah Zarah,' fol. 18, 1). There are many passages of the Talmud

which raise the suspicion that the rabbis are purposely running counter to the

teaching of the New Testament.

 

28 "But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols,

eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the

Lord’s, and the fullness thereof:  But if any man say unto you. Who is the

"any man" is left undefined. Perhaps some "weak" Christian is meant, who happens

to be a fellow guest. This is offered in sacrifice unto idols. The true reading is

probably, ἱεροθύτων - hierothuton - sacred sacrifice, not εἰδωλοθύτων - eidolothuton

idol sacrifice. Perhaps there is a touch of delicate reserve in the word, implying that

the remark is made at the table of heathens, who would be insulted by the word

εἰδωλοθύτων (sacrificed to idols). Whoever the interlocutor is supposed to be –

heathen host or Christian guest - the mere fact of attention being drawn to the

food as forming part of a heathen sacrifice is enough to make it your duty to give

no overt sanction to idolatry. In that case, therefore, you ought to refuse it. It will

be seen how gross was the calumny which asserted that Paul taught men to be

indifferent about eating things offered to idols. He only taught indifference in

cases where idolatry could not be directly involved in the question. He only

repudiates the idle superstition that the food became inherently tainted by such a

consecration when the eater was unaware of it. In later times, when the eating of

such offerings was deliberately erected into a test of apostasy, he would have used

language as strong against every semblance of compliance as any which was used

by St. John himself or by Justin Martyr. Difference of time and circumstances

necessarily involves a difference in the mode of viewing matters which in themselves

are unimportant. For the earth is the Lord's. It is doubtful whether the repetition

of this clause is genuine. It is omitted by all the best uncials.

 

29 "Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty

judged of another man’s conscience?”  Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of

the other. You may be well aware that you intend no sanction of idolatry, but if the

other supposes that you do, you wound his conscience, which you have no right to

do. Your own conscience has already decided for itself. For why is my liberty

judged of another man's conscience? These words explain why he said

conscience not thine own.” The mere fact that another person thinks that we

are doing wrong does not furnish the smallest proof that we are doing

wrong. We stand or fall only to our own Master, and our consciences are free

to form their own independent conclusion.  Perhaps in this clause and the next

verse we have an echo of the arguments used by the Corinthian "liberals," who

objected to sacrifice themselves to the scruples of the weak. The independence of

conscience is powerfully maintained in Romans 14:2-5.

 

30 "For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which

I give thanks?"  For if I. The "for" should be omitted. There is no copula in the

best manuscripts. By grace. The word may also mean "with thankfulness" (compare

Romans 14:6. "He that eateth, to the Lord he eateth, for he giveth God thanks;"

I Timothy 4:3, "Meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving;"

compare our phrase," saying grace"). Another view of these clauses interprets

them to mean "You should refrain because, by not doing so, you give occasion

to others to judge you" - a rule which has been compared with Romans 14:16,

"Let not your good be evil spoken of." Whichever view be taken, it is clear that

theoretically Paul sided with the views of the "strong," but sympathetically with

those of the "weak." He pleaded for some concession to the scrupulosity of ever

morbid consciences, he disapproved of a defiant, ostentatious, insulting liberalism.

On the other hand, he discouraged the miserable micrology of a purblind and bigoted

superstition, which exaggerated the importance of things external and indifferent.

He desiderated more considerateness and self denial on the one side; and on the

other, a more robust and instructed faith, he would always tolerate the scruples

of the weak, but would not suffer either weakness or strength to develop itself i

nto a vexatious tyranny.

 

31 "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the

glory of God.”  All. There is much grandeur in the sweeping universality of the

rule which implies that all life, and every act of life, may be consecrated by

holy motives. To the glory of God. Not to the glorification either

of your own breadth of mind or your over-scrupulosity of conscience, but

that God in all things may be glorified” (I Peter 4:11). 

 

32 "Give none offense, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the

church of God:"  Give none offence. Of course Paul means "give no offence

in unimportant, indifferent matters" (compare Romans 14:13). "Offence" means

"occasion of stumbling." The word only occurs in Acts 24:16; Philippians 1:16.

Nor to the Gentiles; rather, nor to the Greeks

 

33 "Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit,

but the profit of many, that they may be saved.”  All the sympathy, tolerance,

forbearance, which I try to practice has this one supreme object:

 

“THE SALVATION OF THE SOULS OF MEN!”

 

 

                                                ADDITIONAL NOTES

 

From this passage several things may be inferred concerning the ages of human history.

 

  • THE MORAL RELATIONSHIP OF THE AGES. Paul teaches here that the

            age of the Jew in the wilderness sustained a twofold relation to men of all

            future times — the relation of a representative and of an admonisher.

 

ü      It was a representative. Things that happened in the wilderness

                        happened as “ensamples.”

 

Ø      Their blessings were “ensamples.” Their “pillar” represented the

      Bible.  Their baptism unto Moses represented the dedication of

      Christians to the religion of Christ. Their manna and their water from

      the rock represented Christ — the Bread and Water of spiritual life.

 

Ø      Their imperfections were “ensamples.” Their lusts, idolatries,

      frivolity,discontent, represent the sins to which men are liable through

      all Christian times.

                       

Ø      Their punishments were “ensamples.” Thousands died in the

      wilderness in consequence of their sins, and this represents the fact

      that sin and misery are indissolubly connected.

 

ü      It was an admonisher.  They are written for our admonition.” The

                        principles embodied in their history are of universal application. They are:

 

Ø      The special care which God exercises over those who commit

                                    themselves to Him.

 

Ø      The tendency of the depraved heart to go wrong.

 

Ø      The inviolable connection between sin and suffering.

 

  • THE DIVINE SUPERINTENDENCE OF THE AGES. It is here taught

that God employs one age as a minister to another. He is in all ages. He

makes the events that happened to the Jews in the wilderness thousands

of years ago minister to the good of men of all future times. This fact:

 

ü      Should restrain us from hasty judgments of His providence.

 

ü      Should impress us with the seriousness of life.

 

·         THE GROWING RESPONSIBILITY OF THE AGES. “Upon whom the

ends of the world are come.” The patriarchal was succeeded by the Mosaic,

the Mosaic by the Christian. The Christian is the last. All the past has

come down to us:

 

ü      Through literature. Books bring down to us the poets, the sages, the

                        orators, the preachers of past ages, etc.

 

ü      Through tradition. Were there no books, one generation would impart

                        its thoughts, spirit, art, institutions, to another.

 

  • THE COMMON TEMPTATION OF THE AGES. “There hath no

temptation taken you but such as is common to man,” etc. Men

through all times have been subject to similar temptations. “Elijah was

a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly…..” 

(James 5:17)

 

ü      All men are temptable.

 

Ø      Men are constitutionally temptable. All moral creatures in the

      universe are temptable, even the highest angel. There is no virtue

      where there is no temptability.

 

Ø      All men as fallen creatures are specially temptable. Having

yielded to temptation by the law of habit, they have gained

a tendency to do this, and this tendency is ever on the increase.

 

ü      All men are in tempting circumstances. In heaven there may be no

                        incentives to wrong, no seductive influences. Earth is full of the tempting.

                        The passage here teaches us two things.

 

Ø      That our temptations require great caution. “Wherefore let

      him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” The

      Jews in the wilderness had great privileges. Inspired men were

      with them. Supernatural manifestations surrounded them;

      God Himself was specially with them. Yet they yielded to

      their temptations, and THEY FELL! Wherefore let all

      take heed.” Privileges are no security.

 

ü      That our temptations must be resisted. They are resistible:

 

Ø      Because God does not allow any temptation to happen to us that

                                    outmeasures our power of resistance. “He will not suffer you to be

                                    tempted above that ye are able.” He is in all the events of life. He

                                    proportions the burden to the back. If temptations came outstripping

                                    our capabilities of resistance, our yielding to them might be a calamity,

                                    but would not be a crime. Such a case, I presume, never happens in

                                    the historyof man. The righteous God would not allow it to transpire.

 

Ø      Because if we are in earnest in our resistance, He will enable us to

                                    escape. He “will with the temptation also make a way to escape,

                                    that ye may be able to bear it.” “There is no valley so dark,” says

                                    an old expositor, “but He can find a way through it, no affliction so

                                    grievous but He can prevent or remove or enable us to support it,

                                    and, in the end, overrule it to our advantage.”

 

Let us not suppose that the advantages of past times were greater than ours. There are men

who are constantly referring us to the past, saying theformer times were better than the present.

Of all the ages that are past, what age had the advantages of this? Not the patriarchal; for under

it the Deluge came. Not the Mosaic; for under it came the ruin of Jerusalem and the destruction

of the Jewish commonwealth. Not the apostolic; for in it grievous heresies arose and moral

abominations grew rife.  (But let us face reality, we may be the age “upon whom the ends

of the world are come! – CY – 2010)

 

Do not suppose that the type of excellence reached by our ancestors is high enough

for us.  We ought to be more noble than the old patriarchs, more enlightened and

Christ like than the best Christians of apostolic times.

 

                                    On us, great God, on us are come

                                       The ends of rolling time;

                                    We would begin each opening day

                                       With gratitude sublime.

                                    Men after men have come and gone,

                                       Myriads have passed away;

                                    But thou hast lived unchanged, O God,

                                       And brought us to this day.

 

                                    The past, an ocean under thee,

                                       Bore onward thy great plan,

                                    And every billow, as it broke,

                                      Was fraught with good to man.

                                    The dispensations under which

                                      Our fathers lived and died

                                    Were only, as compared with ours,

                                       Dim daybreak to noontide.

 

                                    “A goodly heritage” have we,

                                        Ages of choicest lore;

                                    What “kings and prophets long’d” to see

                                       Are ours for evermore.

                                    The great men of the past are ours,

                                       To help us on life’s way;

                                    The Sun of Righteousness we have,

                                       To flood our hearts with day.

 

                                    All that past times have given us

                                       May we employ aright,

                                    And live a grand and godly life,

                                       Full worthy of our light.

                                    We follow in the awful march

                                       Of all the mighty dead.

                                    Eternal Father, succour us

                                      When all our years have fled!

 

 

 

                        Biblical Examples for All Ages (vs. 1-11)

 

Reference had been made in the preceding chapter by Paul’s striking illustration from Grecian

life (ch. 9:24-27) to show the importance of earnest and exact discipline in matters pertaining 

to the soul’s salvation. The body, with its infirmities and sins, was a very serious danger, and,

unless kept under by the power of grace, would acquire mastery over the spirit. Even he,

though an apostle, might become “a castaway.” The terrible liability was before him as a

personal thing, the idea lingered and demanded a fuller emphasis, and how could he contemplate

himself without considering the hazardous exposure of his brethren? Every fiber of his private

heart was a public tie that bound him to others, and hence he could not see his own peril and

be blind to the peril of the Church. Under the pressure of this anxiety, his mind reverts to

the history of the Jewish Church. Historical examples are very powerful, and where could he

find them except in the Old Testament? Grecian gamespass out of view, and the stately

procession of wonders, beginning in the deliverance of the elect race from Egyptian bondage

and progressing through the events of the desert, moves before his eye. “Our fathers”

indicates how true he was to ancestral blood, and this warmhearted sense of country, in which

patriotism and piety interblended, exemplifies the origin and tenacity of the feeling that prompted

him in the previous chapter to put in the foreground this fact, “Unto the Jews I became as a

Jew.” Let us remember that his peculiar state of mind at the moment took its colouring from

one single thing, viz. the hazards of moral probation because of the body. How predominant

this idea was appears in the instances enumerated to show the unfaithfulness of God’s people

to their covenanted engagements. Such words as “lust,” “lusted,” “eat and drink,”

rose up to play,” “commit fornication,” are significant of his intense feeling, and they

are as reverberations from what was to him an awful term “castaway,” “rejected,”

fail shamefully of the prize.” According to his conception, brain and nerves, all the facts

of the physical organism, had to be taken into account in looking at the practical side of

Christianity. And it was a practical question, because it rested on a broad generalization of

man’s place, order, and destiny in the universe. No empiric was he, but a thinker of most

penetrating insight, far in advance of his times, in advance too of our century; and while he

was not a psychologist nor a physiologist in our sense of the terms, yet no man has ever

seen so clearly, so deeply, into the principles underlying psychology and physiology in their

relations to spiritual life. (Why?  Because God called him, appeared to him and gave him

special enlightenment [Acts 26:14-18; and Galatians 1:15-18] – CY – 2010)  His own

personal experience turned his thoughts to this study. Providence made him this sort of a

student, and the Holy Ghost enlarged and sanctified his investigations. Such thinkers

generally come as precursors to scientists and philosophers; but Paul was much more than

a precursor, for we find in him, not merely a knowledge of facts, but of truths, and a facility

in applying them altogether remarkable. What a volume on this subject lay open in his own

consciousness! A temperament of singular impressionableness; a natural activity that sprang

quite as much from the interaction of his mental faculties and their quick sympathy with

one another as from the accesses of the outer world; feeble health, and yet that kind of

weakness in certain functions which is sometimes connected with other organs of great

strength, and is consistent with astonishing power of endurance; the “thorn in the flesh,

the messenger of Satan to buffet” him (II Corinthians 12:7); add to all this the manner

of life he led, and the physical sufferings that enemies inflicted on him (ibid.  11:24-29); —

and how could he help being reminded what a factor the body was in his manhood and

apostleship?  Think of the effect on the associating and suggestive faculty, on the

imagination, on his use of language both for thought and expression, that this mass of

disturbed sensibility must have produced, and for which there was no earthly anodyne.

Observe, moreover, how the wisdom of God manifests itself in the temperament of this

man and its specific discipline.  Probably temperament is the secret of individuality, but

whether so or not, it must be reckoned as of no little significance as to the influence of the

books we read, the teachers that instruct, and the other countless agencies which make up

the total of educative forces.

 

 

                        Compare God’s Workings in Peter and Paul

 

Now, in this particular, mark the contrast between Peter and Paul. The fisherman of Galilee,

healthy, robust, abounding in the instinctive joyousness of natural sensations, trustful to an

extreme of his emotions, pliant towards himself, singularly impulsive; what a problem was

in that temperament and its physiological laws, when the Lord Jesus began to educate his

nerves, arteries, brains, for discipleship, and through the disciple to develop the apostle of

the Rock and the Keys! (Matthew 16:18-19) Yet it was done, and done

thoroughly, so that the changed body of St. Peter is quite as noteworthy as the changed

mind, the same body but functionally subdued to a well-governed organism. During the

forty days between the Lord’s resurrection and ascension, the man and the apostle emerged

from the chrysalis. At Pentecost, what a commanding figure he presents! No haste, no

spasmodic action, now, but equipoise and cool wisdom and the courage of repose. In

temperament, no less than in official position, Peter is the antecedent of Paul. And their

difference herein, according to providential ordination, was carried out in their training

and culture, so that diversity, jealous of its rights in all things, is only self insistent for the

sake of prospective unity.  Now, Paul wishes to put this subject of danger on the bodily

side of human life in the strongest possible light for his own benefit and that of the

Corinthians. What then? A nation rises before him. By the arm of Jehovah, Egypt has been

smitten, the Red Sea has opened a pathway to their triumphant march, and waves and

winds have chanted the anthem of a victory in which they had no share. And this nation

passed through the sea,” and “were all baptized unto Moses,” as their mediatorial

leader, “in the cloud and in the sea.” Nay, more; the typical idea is still further

wrought out, and baptism and the Lord’s Supper are conjoined. “All did eat the same

spiritual meat; all did drink the same spiritual drink;” the meat and drink were from

above; the Holy Ghost was present as the source of the miracles and the Divine Agent of

blessing; the “spiritual” is insisted on, for “that Rock was Christ.” There was a

revelation to the senses and there was a revelation to the spirit. To deny the super-sensuous

element is to destroy the force of the analogy, since it is not a resemblance to the

imagination alone, but a real likeness to the reason, Christianity and its sacraments being

prominent in Paul’s view. It was not, then, a mere miracle to the body and for the body.

It was likewise a supernatural demonstration, a gracious influence from the Holy Ghost,

a preclusive blessedness brought within reach of experience in that dispensation of

types and shadows. It was not our spirituality; nevertheless, it was spiritual, since

that Rock was Christ.” Our Lord said in his Capernaum discourse, just after his

great miracle that fed thousands, “Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness,

and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man

may eat thereof, and not die.” Did not the miracle, wrought so lavishly for the public,

wrought without solicitation, seem to the excited multitude a sign that Christ was the

national Messiah their hearts craved to have? Next day, He disenchanted them by sweeping

away the secular illusion and telling them plainly, “I am that Bread of life.” The

contrast between the manna of the wilderness and the bread of life was stated and enforced

at a time, in a way, under circumstances, calculated to secure its object. It did not effect its

purpose. “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with

Him;” and henceforth the popular expectation of a worldly Messiah was a waning moon in a

darkening night. And this contrast was recognized by Paul even while adhering most closely

to the parallelism. On the ground of the parallelism, he argues the eminent privileges of the

Jews, the opportunities enjoyed, the Divine manifestation, the spiritual influence secured to

the nation in the desert. They failed to understand and appreciate their position. Appetite,

lust, idolatry, overcame them; “they were overthrown in the wilderness,” and so swift

was God’s wrath and so overwhelming, that there “fell in one day three and twenty

thousand.” Here was a supernatural economy; here was a religion that provided for bodily

necessities, and even gave “angels’ food;” here, at the same time that the claims of a true

and proper sensuousness were divinely met, a “spiritual” agency was established and

administered — here, in the solitudes of sand and rock, where the chosen people were

alone with God, and where neither day nor night was allowed to wear its accustomed face

because of the presence of the pillar cloud of glory; and yet amid such displays of the

providence and Spirit of God, men fell into idolatry, murmured against God, tempted

Him, and perished under miraculous judgments. It is not simply a lesson from individuals to

individuals. It is a warning from a community to a community. Vice as personal, vice as

social, vice as an epidemic in the air, — this is the vice of bodily degradation as it exhibits

its raging enormity in lust, fornication, and idol worship. These things were our

examples,” “for ensamples,” “written for our admonition, upon whom the ends

of the world are come,” the coalescence of the ages in the grand demonstration of

Christianity as the completed revelation to mankind of God in Christ. “Wherefore... take

heed.” We have more light; larger privileges, nobler opportunities, but there is no mechanical

security in these things. The crisis age has come, the crisis trial has come with it. “Wherefore

let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” To encourage their holy

endeavors, Paul assures them that there is no fatality in temptation. Oftentimes it happens

that men are morally disabled before the struggle, before an incitement to do evil has

fairly set in. By this proneness to believe in fate, they surrender in advance.  Remote causes

are frequently more potent than proximate causes, and many a man has been the victim of

a false philosophy of morals long before he has fallen as an actual prey to Satan. Bodily sins

have something in them which renders their subjects uncommonly liable to this destructive

belief, and I could not help it; I cannot help it,” are words that easily rise to their

lips. But the doctrine of Paul is a protest against such a demoralizing idea. “No trial has

come upon you beyond man’s power to bear”.   “God is faithful.” The laws of the

universe and their administration, the presence of the Spirit as the universal Helper, and

the glory of Christianity as the consummation of the ages, are so many Divine assurances

that NO MAN is doomed beforehand to fall into the snare of the devil. Satan himself is

only Satan, man’s adversary, within certain limits. (he is not omniscient, neither omnipotent,

nor omnipresent – CY – 2010) God holds him in check. At first, the influence of evil takes

effect on the involuntary nature, sensations are awakened, passions excited, but it

becomes a temptation when these lower instruments are brought to bear on the consent

of the will.God is faithful” to the human will. There is nothing in man which is so

constantly quickened and energized as a defensive force. And, furthermore, as a positive

and aggressive force, what resources are at its command! If temptation is subtle and

insinuating, who knows the number and Variety of the Spirit’s secret avenues to the will?

There is always “a way to escape,” and this way is provided by our heavenly Father,

who is evermore answering the prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us

from evil.”

 

 

                                                Our Examples (v. 6)

 

The force of example, both to encourage and to deter, is familiar and admitted. The principle

is used. in education, in the arts, in government and law. It is justly believed that a readier and

deeper impression is produced by living characters and. real events than by abstract

propositions. The principle is employed by religion. The Bible is full of examples of sin,

punishment, repentance, virtue, reward. The Old Testament has been termed the picture book

accompanying and illustrating the lessons of the New Testament. The text assumes the special

applicability of the history of Israel in the wilderness to the spiritual instruction, first of the

Corinthians, and then also of all professed Christians. Paul points and emphasizes his

appeals to diligence, purity, cheerfulness, etc., by referring to the well known incidents of the

journey of Israel from Egypt to the land of promise.

 

  • ISRAEL IN THE WILDERNESS IS AN EXAMPLE OF WARNING.

 

ü      Against murmuring, which, it is to be feared, never appears to many

                        Christians to be of the nature of sin, and. against which accordingly many

                        are not upon their guard. But murmuring is against Divine appointment,

                        and is therefore against God Himself.

 

ü      Against sensuality. Into these it was not surprising that Israel should fall,

                        having only just escaped from Egypt, and being surrounded by the

                        licentious heathen. And what more important and necessary than a caution

                        against defiling and destroying the temple of the Holy Ghost?

 

ü      Against rebellion. Israel again and again rebelled against Moses the

                        servant of God, and against Jehovah Himself. And Christians need to be

                        reminded that to violate God’s Law, to defy the authority of God’s

                        inspired apostles, to resist the Divine message of God’s ministers, is

                        treason, and. cannot go unpunished.

 

ü      Against unbelief. This was the sin which lay at the root of the others, as

                        is shown in the Epistle to the Hebrews. It contrasts with that childlike faith

                        which is becoming in the privileged people of the Lord. All such conduct,

                        as we may learn from the Old Testament narrative referred to, is observed,

                        disapproved, and. censured by the omniscient Ruler. It is tempting Christ.

                        We are reminded of the possibility and of the culpability of such sin.

 

  • ISRAEL IN THE WILDERNESS IS AN EXAMPLE OF ENCOURAGEMENT.

      If we look at the human side, the lesson is one of warning; but if we regard the

      Divine side, there we see much to cheer, animate, and inspire us. We remark:

 

ü      Divine guidance. As Israel was led by the pillar of cloud and of fire, so

                        will all who look up and commit their way unto the Lord, experience his

                        directing grace.

 

ü      Divine care, bounty, and goodness. As Israel ate of the manna from

                        heaven and drank of the streams from the rock, so that, when earth failed,

                        heaven interposed, in like manner will the beneficence of God satisfy the

                        wants of all who in necessity and straits call upon Him.

 

ü      Divine protection. As Israel’s foes were discomfited, as threatening

                        dangers were averted, so shall a way of escape and a door of deliverance

                        be provided for all who trust in a gracious and redeeming God. The arm of

                        flesh will fail, but the arm of Omnipotence shall prove ready and

                        victorious.

 

ü      The final possession of the promises. God led His people to the land He

                        promised to their fathers; not immediately, not by a way they knew, not

                        without difficulties, hardships, contests, yet surely, safely, victoriously.

                        Those who are “on their way to God” may well be animated by such

                        recollections, and by the light they cast upon the position and the hopes of

                        the Christian. Heaven may seem to us “the land which is very far off;”

                        (Isaiah 33:17) yet faith can bring it near and make it ours even now.

 

 

                                                The Great Rule of Life (v. 31)

 

  • WHAT IT IS. To seek the glory of God. There have been and are many

            life rules; this alone is flawless. Many have themselves as life ends. Some

            enjoin us to make the welfare of others our life object, and preach to us

            “the greatest happiness of the greatest number,” which would prove a very

            high and excellent object to aim at were it a little less obscure and a little

            more practicable; but it would not be high enough even then. God must be

            the Sun of our system, not ourselves or others. Then order and well being

            result, but otherwise confusion, contradiction, chaos. When we truly seek

            God’s glory, neither our own interest nor that of others will be prejudiced,

            but the reverse. This life rule is:

 

ü      Reasonable. As creatures, we should live to our Creator. All we have,

                        and all we are, belong to God; it is intensely reasonable that they should

be used for His pleasure.

 

ü      Beneficial. It fulfils the object of our creation. If that object be

                        frustrated, God is robbed, others are injured, and we cannot profit. Our

life must be according to the Divine intent, or it will become pernicious

all round.

 

ü      Joy bringing. We are “out of gear” until our lives are thus ordered. We

                        may gain excitement, but we shall lack solid satisfaction. The joy of

heaven arises from the fact that those in it live for God; heavenly joy

comes to earth where heavenly life comes.

 

  • TO WHAT IT APPLIES. The answer is brief — to everything. It is a

            rule for all life, for every part of life. Note particularly that it applies to

            small things as well as great, to so called secular things as to sacred. But

            the distinction is destroyed — it makes all things sacred. It saves anything

            from becoming insignificant by giving it this supreme significance, “the

            glory of God.” It makes everything interesting and useful. The apostle

            particularizes such acts as eating and drinking — the most familiar and

            commonplace. A man should eat and drink so as to be fitted for serving

            God. How many by gluttony and wine bibbing are unfitted! “Sunday

            religion” is a flagrant violation of the apostolic precept. Obedience will

            make our piety continuous, and there is no piety which is not so. How

            different our lives would be if this commandment were ever in our

            thoughts! What a check it would prove to self seeking and to sin generally!

            How much we should have to discontinue because such things could not

            possibly be done to the Divine glory! How strangely beautiful our lives

            would become if we yielded a full obedience!

 

  • WHAT IT INVOLVES.

 

ü      Conversion. However it may be with others, we to whom the gospel has

                        come cannot live to the glory of God if we reject Christ. Apart from

Christ we are the enemies of God. Our lives may be moral, but the

rejection of Christ is like poison mixed with good food — resulting

in a poisonous mass. We must come to God in the appointed way before

we can serve Him. (CHRIST IS THE DOOR – John 10:7-9 – CY –

2010)  There is a parallel passage to the text: “Whatsoever ye do

in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians

3:17). We must start at Calvary.  “Ye must be born again” – (John 3:7)  

We must be converted to God before we can glorify Him. “They that

are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8).

 

ü      Direct service offered to God. In worship. In Christian enterprise and

                        labor. If we use the smaller opportunities of bringing glory to God, we

                        shall not neglect the greater. The man who serves God in his home and

                        business will seek to serve Him also in the Church and in spheres of

                        Christian usefulness. The man who professes to serve God on one day

out of seven is more than open to suspicion, and so is the man who

professes to serve God on six.

 

ü      Duties to ourselves. Our duties to ourselves are our duties to God. We

                        cannot glorify God unless we observe His laws, and many of these are

                        directed towards our personal well being. By self improvement, by

growth in grace, by increase in physical, mental, and spiritual health,

we mayglorify our Father who is in heaven.

 

ü      Duties to others. The first and second commandments (Matthew

                        22:37-39) are indissolubly united. When we truly serve men we serve

God.  We may glorify God by seeking to advance the true interests

of our fellow creatures. Under the guidance of this principle, we shall:

 

Ø      Not offend men’s consciences (v. 28).

Ø      Not hinder them in their spiritual life or cause them to sin (v.32).

Ø      Earnestly seek their salvation (v. 33).

Ø       Be willing to practice much self denial (v. 33)

 

(In closing I would like to say that the Puritans were very influential in America.  They

took the Word of God very seriously and believed that the sole purpose of man on

the earth was to “glorify God”!  As a blessed consequence they were instrumental,

regardless of those who want to revise history!  Their contributions were:

 

Ø      a strong work ethic

Ø      strong educational policies

Ø      morality  - CY – 2010)

 

 

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