Examples, Warnings, and Encouragement

Why has God given us a record of the Israelite history? At least one of the reasons is given in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. He says that the events that happened to the Israelites are given as examples and warnings to us.

First of all it is important to note that all of the Israelites who took part in the Exodus and passed through the Red Sea had the same kind of spiritual experience (1 Corinthians 10:1-4). Yet most of them, in fact the vast majority of them, did not utilize the opportunity to obey God. So the Bible records, “Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most them; their bodies were scattered over the desert” (1 Corinthians 10:5 NIV).

Their example shows us that in spite of having God’s visible presence with them in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21, 22), these people were prone to evil, idolatry, sexual immorality, testing the Lord, and grumbling. So the warning is that we should not set our heart on evil things. This can happen even when we are enjoying great spiritual experiences with God. Therefore these have been recorded for us as examples and warnings.

Again, the warning is against spiritual pride and complacency. It is easy to get thoughts of “I’ve achieved something in spiritual life,” and thus become a target of the enemy. Or, you can easily think that the present progress made in your relationship with God is the best that could have been achieved. Worse still is the thought that since I’ve been enjoying victory over certain areas of sin, I will never again be tempted. For such of you like this the warning has been sounded: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12 NIV).

And then a note of encouragement has been given. It encourages us to turn from looking at ourselves to look to God. Instead of thinking that I am alone in my struggle with temptation, you are encouraged to note that whatever temptation that has come to you is common to man. It is nothing new and you’re not the only one passing through it. But God is faithful. So He won’t allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear. He knows how we are formed and remembers that we are dust (Psalm 103:14). He will provide a way out of that temptation so that you won’t collapse under its weight.

Look back at the history of God’s people and take warning. You too can fall if you are not careful. So look to God. Help comes from Him. Then you will be able to stand up under temptation. You need not fall!


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