In this day and age we have an abundance of folks who approach the local church and Christianity with the same attitude they would approach a business or restaurant. They mistakenly think that 'service' is spelled 'serve us'. They have a consumer attitude toward the church and the things of God. They are less concerned about pleasing God than about pleasing themselves!
What will the church do for me? Or how would becoming a Christian benefit me? Unfortunately, that same kind of thinking is permeating the lives of believers. We are too busy with our own affairs to commit to doing what is truly pleasing to God. Solomon wrote that "there is no new thing under the sun". So this consumer mentality really isn't anything new. In the NT we find that there was church and a group of believers that were experiencing a number of similar problems…the place was called Corinth. The apostle Paul wrote this church a letter of correction.
Read: 1 Co. 9:24-27; 1 Co. 10:1-11
Paul uses the nation of Israel as a prime example in giving a serious warning to the church at Corinth concerning how they were living. It also serves as a warning to us this morning concerning living in a way that is NOT well pleasing to God.
Jesus sets the standard for us in all thing. In John 8:29 He said.
"And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him."
I. The Example Given. v1-5
A. Israel had the cloud of God's presence. This refers to God's presence and guidance.
"And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: he took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people" - Ex.13:21-22
B. Israel passed through the Red Sea.
1. This refers to the great deliverance of God from the bondages and enslavements of Egypt which were a symbol of the world.
2. We talked about this last week as we considered God's wondrous deliverance.
3. Israel was baptized into Moses and his leadership.
a. Moses stood as a type of Christ.
b. God gave Israel the leader it needed to reach the Promised Land.
c. Therefore, any person who followed Moses through the Red Sea and under the cloud was baptized, immersed, and given over to Moses and his mission.
d. The person was proclaiming that he was a follower of Moses and his mission to reach the Promised Land.
C. Israel partook of the food and water of God's provision.
1. The word "spiritual" simply means that the food and water came from God.
2. God provided for their needs; He took care of their day-to-day necessities
D. Israel had the Rock of Christ.
1. The rock that provided water for Israel is said to have been Christ.
2. Jesus Christ was the Source, the energy, the power, the Person who...
a. caused the rock to gush forth water.
b. caused the Red Sea to roll back.
c. caused the cloud to guide Israel and to rain manna or bread.
d. gave Moses and the promise of the promised land to the people.
E. But even with all that God had provided for them; they would not please Him.
1. Nearly all of them perished in the wilderness.
2. It is estimated that over two million began the journey, but only Caleb and Joshua remained faithful to God.
3. Everyone else perished in the wilderness.
4. They were 'overthrown' that means that their corpses were scattered all over the wilderness.
5. Why? Because they did not please God.
"The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers. Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts" (Zech.1:2-3).
II. The Warning for Us v6-10
A. These things were our examples.
1. The dictionary defines an example as
a. One that serves as a pattern to be imitated or not to be imitated; a good example or a bad example
b. A punishment inflicted on someone as a warning to others.
2. Either of these definitions would apply wouldn't it?
a. Their behavior in the wilderness serves as an example to us as to how NOT to behave.
b. And the consequence of their behavior serves as an example to us as well.
B. What did they do that was so displeasing to God, that He let them die in the wilderness?
1. There was the sin of lust. v6
a. Paul tells us that they lusted after evil things.
b. What is he talking about.
(Numbers 11:5-6) We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick: But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes.
c. Nothing at all, beside this manna!
d. God miraculously provided for them the manna…all they had to do was go out and gather it up!
e. Lust is a sin where we focus on what we do not have while despising what God has provided!
f. That could apply to every area of our lives.
2. There was the sin of idolatry. v7
a. What was this all about?
b. It was the time when they decided on how they were going to worship.
c. They rejected God's instruction and chose their own god.
d. Listen carefully here…don't look down your noses at the people who worshiped the golden calf…
e. Today people are telling God how they will or will not worship. "Well, I think… or I believe this or that…"
f. The church at Corinth had become a social gathering…a place to come and eat be entertained!
g. Do you see how that applies today?
3. The sin of immorality. v8
(Numbers 25:1) And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab.
a. The result, 23,000 were destroyed in one day.
b. I know that today's permissive society flaunts immorality as common place, but God does not look lightly on such behavior.
c. Remember, these were God's people who were behaving like this.
4. There was the sin of tempting Christ. v9
a. Here we are talking about trying the Lord's patience.
b. Pushing the envelope.
c. Seeing how far they could go.
(Numbers 21:5-6) And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.
d. The people spoke against God and Moses…His chosen leader.
e. They were trying God's patience, and they went too far…
f. God sent fiery serpents among them and many died!
5. There was the sin of murmuring. v10 and complaining and grumbling.
Some of the believers in Israel were always complaining and murmuring against God and Moses (cp. Num.14:2, 36; 16:11, 41). The result was judgment and punishment by the destroyer, that is, an angel sent by God to execute judgment. They perished in the wilderness and never saw the promised land. (Cp. Ex. 14: 11; 15:24; 16:2; 173; Num. 11: 1; 14:27; 203; 21:5.)
Thought How many believers grumble and gripe? How many become dissatisfied... with the direction God gives through His leaders? with the food God gives through His leaders? with the way God guides through His leaders? with the words God gives to His leaders?
How many voice their complaints to others? The warning is clear to the believers of God's church.
"Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer" (1 Cor.10:10).
"Do all things without murmurings and disputings" (Ph.2:14).
"These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage" (Jude 16).
"And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?" (Ex.15:24).
"I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed" (Ps.77:3). "The foolishness of man perverteth his way: and his heart fretteth against the Lord" (Pr.19:3).
"Wherefore doth a living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins?" (Lam.3:39).
6. (10:11-13) Temptation : the point is unequivocal--receive the warning. The things that happened to the believers of Israel are examples and warnings to us. We must heed them for three reasons.
1. The end or climax of the world (age) has come upon us. Since Christ, believers are living in the last age or period of human history. This simply means that Jesus Christ is the final revelation of God, the only way God will ever deal with men again. Men must now approach God by faith in Christ.
This age is what is known as the age of grace, grace being the way God now deals with men. The age of Christ or of grace is the last age of human history. Therefore, since we are living in the last age, we must heed the warning example of Israel.
2. A person can fall, especially if he begins to think that he stands, that is, if he begins to feel safe and secure. Note this verse, for it is a straightforward warning that is usually neglected and ignored: "Let him that thinketh he standeth [is safe and secure] take heed lest he fall."
"And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others" (Lk.18:9).
"And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know" (1 Cor.8:2).
"Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor.10:12).
"For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself' (Gal.6:3).
"Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?" (Pr.20:6).
"He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered" (Pr.28:26).
"Therefore hear now this, thou that art given to pleasures, that dwellest carelessly, that sayest in thine heart,
I am, and none else beside me; I shall not sit as a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children: but these two things shall come to thee in a moment in one day, the loss of children, and widowhood: they shall come upon thee in their perfection for the multitude of thy sorceries, and for the great abundance of thine enchantments. For thou hast trusted in thy wickedness: thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge, it hath perverted thee; and thou hast said in thine heart, I am, and none else beside me" (Is.47:8-10).
3. There is a way to escape temptation, but to escape temptation the believer must know three great truths.
a. All temptation is common to man (anthropinos). The word means a human temptation that falls to the lot of man. This is an amazing promise. Think about it. No temptation...
- is superhuman.
- is unique.
- is beyond man's capacity to handle.
- is terrifying in any sense of the word.
Every single temptation that attacks the believer is common to all men. All men face the same temptation. This means a wonderful thing: some men have already overcome it. Yes, many fell, caved in to the temptation; but some demonstrated the will and energy to overcome it.
b. God is faithful: He limits the temptation. He does not allow a temptation to confront a believer that is...
- too enticing
- too appealing
- too attractive
- too forceful
- too satisfying
- too fulfilling
- too pleasing
- too self-exalting
- too promising
- too ego-boosting
- too stimulating
- too arousing
God knows what we can bear and how much we can bear; therefore, He limits every single temptation within our limits to overcome it. God is faithful.
"God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor.1:9).
"Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations" (Dt.7:9).
"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him" (2 Chron.16:9).
"Thy mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds" (Ps.36:5).
I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations" (Ps.89:1).
"He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler" (Ps.91:4).
c. God provides a way to escape. He always makes an escape route, a way out of the temptation. He always gives us the strength and energy to walk through or over the temptation or else to turn and flee from it.
"Behold, I give unto you power (o tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing shall by any means hurt you" (Lk.10:19).
"And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" (Ro.16:20).
"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" (1 Cor. 10: 13).
"For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted" (Heb.2:18).
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (Jas.4:7).
"To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne" (Rev.3:21).
"The way of the righteous is made plain" (Pr.15:19).
"And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left" (Is.30:21).
"And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them" (Is.42:16).
"Thus saith the LORD, which maketh a way in the sea, and a path in the mighty waters" (Is.43:16).
1. The example of Israel: all shared the blessings of God (v.1-5).
2. The warning (v.6-10).
3. The point: receive the warning (v.11-13). 2 (10: 1-5) Israel--Faithfulness: the example of Israel. All Israel shared in the blessings and privileges of God. The word "all" is emphasized. All left Egypt (a type of the world) and began the journey to the promised land (a type of heaven). All began to walk through the wilderness of the world with those who truly believed and trusted God; but, as became evident, all were not genuine. They did not truly believe and trust. They felt safe and secure because they were journeying with those who were traveling to the promised land. But they were still in the wilderness, not in the promised land. And the wilderness included all kinds of dangers that had to be confronted and conquered or else they would be destroyed by the wilderness.