1 Corinthians 10
(New International Version)
Warnings From Israel’s History
Paul has been writing about the need to finish what God has set before us, and how dangerous it is to not be willing to give up something which gets in the way of finishing. Now he will use Israel’s experience in the Exodus from Egypt to illustrate this principle.
1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud
The cloud of Shekinah glory overshadowed Israel throughout their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. During the day, the cloud sheltered them from the brutal desert sun, and during the night, it burned as a pillar of fire. It was a constant, ready reminder of God’s glory and presence (Exodus 13:21-22).
and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
All of Israel came through the Red Sea and saw God’s incredible power in holding up the walls of the sea so Israel could cross over on dry ground, and then God’s work of sending the water back to drown the Egyptian army (Exodus 14:21-31). It was not only an amazing demonstration of God’s love and power, but also a picture of baptism – by “passing through water,” all of Israel was identified with Moses, even as by “passing through water,” a Christian is identified with Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-4).
3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink;
All of Israel was sustained by God’s miraculous provision of food and drink during their time in the wilderness (Exodus 16:35 and 17:6). This was a remarkable display of God’s love and power for Israel, and a pre-figuring of the spiritual food and drink we receive at the Lord’s table (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
Israel even had the presence of Jesus Christ with them in the wilderness! Perhaps Jesus had this in the back of his mind when he told the Samaritan woman at the well that he would give her “living water.”
5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
You make your choice:
Proverbs 19:3 (New Living Translation)
People ruin their lives by their own foolishness
and then are angry at the Lord.
Proverbs 17:22 (New Living Translation)
A cheerful heart is good medicine.
11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
We fight temptation with Jesus’ power, like the girl who explained what she did when Satan came with temptation at the door of her heart: “I send Jesus to answer the door. When Satan sees Jesus, he says, ‘OOPS, sorry, I must have the wrong house.’”
Idol Feasts and the Lord’s Supper
“One Bread, One Body” by John Michael Talbot. Talbot, born in 1954, is an American Roman Catholic singer-songwriter-guitarist who is founder of a monastic community, the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, located in the Ozarks.
18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
There may be two Corinthian ideas Paul is trying to answer:
1) The Corinthian Christians were thinking, “Since an idol is not real, it doesn’t matter what we eat, and it doesn’t matter where we eat it.” Paul answers by agreeing that an idol is in itself nothing (1 Corinthians 8:4); but now explains that demons take advantage of man’s ignorant and self-serving worship.
2) The Corinthian Christians were thinking, “As long as we are participating in the Lord’s Table, we are safe in Him.” Paul answers that they are disgracing the Lord’s table when they fellowship with idols.
The Believer’s Freedom
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
Paul is reiterating his distinction between “knowledge” and “love.”
27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
So Paul says it is not the meat per se, but the atmosphere in which the meat is eaten. If it is eaten at a pagan temple — no. If it is purchased from a market — yes, because the meat is not infected; the cow belonged to the Lord on the hoof and it belongs to the Lord now (“The earth is the Lord’s.”). If you eat at someone’s house, Paul says, do not ask about the meat — just eat it, yes, with a good conscience. (Barclay says, “Don’t ask fussy questions.”) But if someone makes a point to tell you that the meat was sacrificed to idols — then no, refuse it. What we believers eat makes no matter; that we avoid giving offense, does.
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
1Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.