Now These Were Our Examples

1 Cor. 10:1-12


   All who have studied  the Bible are  acquainted with the record  of God’s deliverance  of Israel from Egyptian bondage.  God  raised up from the linage of Abraham a select people, tempered them for independent existence by a period of bondage in  Egypt.  At the appointed time, by a strong hand He delivered them out of bondage, lead them through the wilderness, and planted them in a land  the Bible describes as one “flowing with milk and honey.”


   As you and I view God’s dealings with Israel, we can see pictured vividly a relationship God has to the Church.  The apostle Paul could see the parallels when writing the Corinthian church thus states:  "Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 1Corinthians 10:6.  


   A wise man  seeing a mistake made will not make the same mistake again. The Old Testament is dotted with the mistakes of men.  Some of them great men of God, whose  penalties they paid for them, proving the truthfulness of   Heb. 2:2  "…. the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward".


   Their mistakes and the penalties they paid were written for the guidance of people today.  Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon who the ends of the world are come Cor. 10:11. In Romans 15:4 this significant statement —

   4For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.


   Israel’s wanderings through the wilderness, their rebellion against God’s commandments, and their subsequent destruction, is a perfect picture for the church today  as the cost of rebellion against God.  Some of these examples of ancient Israel are direct suggestions for our own improvement.   God is the same today as when He delivered Israel  from bondage.  God’s demands upon the human family have not changed.


The examples of His requirements for Israel, picture perfectly requirements for His children today.  Let us consider some of the lessons suggested. Israel was the people of God. God had hedged them about with a  special covenant. He had given them circumcision. He had  forbidden their mingling with the nations about them.    Israel is typical of the church. we are spiritual Israel,  Galatians 6:16.  Israel lived in Egypt, but were distinct from the Egyptians. The church is in the world, but it is to be distinct from the world.  God has given the church a special designation and special blessings which are reserved for none other.


The words of 1 Peter 1:15-17 — "But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:"  The word holy means set apart.  


Israel was in bondage in Egypt, they had grown up and suffered under the burdens Pharaoh. They remained bondservants until such a time under God's direction they threw off the shackles of bondage to become free.  The oppression of Pharaoh kept the children of Israel in subjection  and produced a dejected and downtrodden race. Their wages were small, their burdens heavy. Pharaoh, is a type of Satan. And Satan, the perfect counterpart keeps in subjection as slaves all who have not yet thrown off his yoke.  The shallow attractions of sin soon become the burdens that sinners bear  by themselves These burdens become heavier with every passing day. Rom 6:23

23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


Notice next, there was a man,  Moses whom God raised up to be a deliverer for Israel. He came into Egypt but he was rejected. Though Moses gave powerful and indisputable proofs of his divine mission, still they despised him.  But those who were willing to follow his direction, deliverance came by the mighty hand and power of God. And God sealed the way behind them in one powerful demonstration of His might.


   Moses is typical of Jesus Christ, who, from the very throne of  God. The apostle John gives us this record   John 1:11 11He came unto his own, and his own received him not.


As Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt, and they crossed  the Red Sea on dry land. Our text declares that all of them were “baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”   1 Cor. 10:2.  The hand of God provided an open gate of escape, and after they had crossed safely over, God closed the way behind them.


This picture of Israel’s escape from bondage is typical of our escape through the waters of baptism from sin.    In like manner we are all  who break the shackles of sin today are baptized.  Romans 6.  Not one was saved out of Egypt without this baptism, and no one is saved out of sin with out baptism. 1 Peter 3:21. The baptism that Israel experienced was at the critical and crucial  moment of their deliverance. That’s exactly were God put baptism in the New Testament. It occurs at the critical and crucial moment when one steps out of bondage and into liberty. It is the very process by which the transition is made. Their baptism cut them off from Egypt.  Until the moment of their baptism they were not severed from Egypt and from bondage.


Following that moment they were completely free of Egypt. And, just so, does baptism today cut us off from Satan, and at the moment of it - not before- we are made free from sin. Peeeter understood this well when he wrote that “the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared, wherein eight souls were saved by water” and added that in the likeness of this act “doth baptism also now save us.”   Water cut Noah and his generation off from the wicked world. Water cut the Israelites off from Pharaoh and their bondage and water baptism cuts us off from the world of sin..   "Even so",  Peter says, baptism “doth also now save us”. it bears up and saves us from the wrath of God that destroys the ungodly.


   Picture next, Israel as they walked out into the pathway of  the sea. The waters had congealed on either side. The cloud that followed them by day came in and settled over them.  It was above them. It was behind them. It and the sea completely buried them for the sight of their pursuers, "“baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” 1 Cor. 10:2.  In this burial we see a picture of our fleeing from sin; being buried with our Lord in baptism and a coming up on the other side of the experience to a new life.  2 Cor. 5:17 — “Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature, old things have passed away, behold all things are new.”


This dramatic incident in the history of Israel marked the end of a frightful period of slavery. Any attempts in and of themselves to escape had ended in failure. But now, with the help of God, suddenly  they were delivered. Likewise, when we submit to the will of Jesus Christ, then and then alone may we pass through the waves.  Christ will lead us and stand us safely upon the shore of deliverance, freed from our bondage, and forgiven of our sins.  From this vantage point we can look back and see our  past blotted out, as was Israel’s.  And see the power of our foes broken by the hand of God.  Then we can sing our songs of redemption and praise to the Lord for having saved us from our sins. It will  be evident to us, as it was evident to them,  that we are saved by grace; not by works of righteousness which we have  done. And it will be just as evident that in obeying what the Lord has commanded us to do, even as Israel did what God commanded them to do when they marched down into the sea and were baptized unto Moses, that we have not earned our salvation any more than Israel earned it salvation by works of merit.


   But, let no  man think that the very instant Israel crossed the Red Sea, that  they were immediately safe in Canaan's land. They still had a wilderness to traverse. The fact is  that only two out of the millions made it. Their carcasses all fell in the wilderness. None of them demonstrated the “once-in- grace-always-in-grace” idea. Israel still had before it a wilderness to traverse when she came out of Egypt.


We often hear life referred to as a “wilderness” and indeed it is. When you and I are  saved by grace from sin through our obedience,  that does not mean that we are in immediate and irrevocable possession of Canaan land.  We still have ahead of us a long and torturous path through the wilderness of this life. The enemies are many, the temptations great, and the lusts are strong. Only those who through faith succeed,  are finally delivered into the spiritual land of milk and honey.

Paul warns us in our text that many of themlusted after evil things” while wandering in the wilderness. He warns that because of this rebellion, most who were delivered from bondage never made Canaan. “Their carcasses fell in the wilderness  they were not allowed to cross over. Our text warns against being like them.  "But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.   1 Cor. 10:5-6


   We would be unwise  and blind not to heed the lesson for us.  The Hebrew writer warns —   chapter 3, verses 12-14

12Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;


As we traverse the wilderness of this life,  from the Red Sea (our baptism) where we first secured deliverance,  to the River Jordan over which we cross into the other world, we must neither doubt nor fear nor question the power or integrity of our God. If we do, we, too, shall fall in the wilderness.


    At the end of Israel’s wilderness wanderings, they came to the river of Jordan. Jordan was he river that separated them from the land that God had promised them. Death is often referred to as ”Jordan,” because it is at the end of our wilderness wandering, and is the gateway to our “promised    land.” As Israel crossed form the wilderness over into the land of Canaan through the waters of Jordan, and as God rolled back its waves for their passage, we also as pilgrims cross over from our wilderness (this life)  into the land that flows with milk and honey, heaven itself.  Jehovah makes the  passage safe, as He directed the children of Israel in the wilderness.



Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ


phone:  (678)617-9658