Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 9 months ago

Strong Reasons to Flee Evil

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1 Cor 10:1-14

First Corinthians ten versus one through fourteen. This morning, scripture speaks in various ways. Sometimes it speaks softly, sometimes it speaks low, it is sometimes it encourages and comforts. Sometimes it warns and threatens. Sometimes it teaches, sometimes it praises. It is manifold. God is manifold in the way that he speaks, and he always speaks to us in ways that we can benefit from and that he and he uses, is by his spirit, to benefit us. Today we have a warning, a warning to pay attention to, to be aware of, to give our our full hearts to. Let's do that now. As we come to first Corinthians ten, versus one through fourteen, the Apostle Paul writes, for I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ nevertheless, with most of them, God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now, these things took place as examples for us that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were. As it is written, the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. We must not indulge in sexual immorality, as some of them did, and twenty three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble as some of them did and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now, these things happen to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore, let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation is overtaken you. That is not common to man. God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry well and there for this morning, you may be seated. Well we have here this morning in general, even if...

...you're not sure of what all the specific things refer to. Is a very clear warning, don't we? We have a warning and instruction that says this is how we ought to live, or rather these are the ways that we ought not to live, and and a word from God about his amazing grace to people that were continuously disobedient. So we could simply stop right here and take home the lesson and say, okay, I do not, I should not desire evil, and that would be true. I need to flee from idolatry and sexual immorality, and that would certainly be true. But we ought to pay attention to what Paul says when he says I do not want you to be unaware. Brothers, there's a kind of wake up call that he wants us, he wants us to have or to hear, and it comes through paying attention to the things that God has done in the past. In other words, it's not just the specific instructions and commands that he gives to us, but it's these things in the past that he wants us to know to learn from. They have a powerful way of speaking to us and reminding us of who God is and what he has done the history that Paul recounts here is the history of of God's work, and you could put it this way, it's our family history. He ascribes to these Gentile Corinthians the history of Israel and he calls them your forefathers. When we look at the Old Testament, this is our family history. As we open up a scrap book, as we look through the the record of our family, this is us and we ought to pay attention to that because, Paul says, I do not want you to be unaware. So what is it that Paul wants us to know? What do we need to understand about the history that he recounts here? Well, it surrounds the exodus. Now, when Christians talk about the exodus, they're usually referring to that great event in which God brought his people that had become very great and numerous but had come under slavery in Egypt, when he brought them out of that slavery and took them into a promised land. It's a big story, covers a lot of chapters in a lot happens. Paul summarizes it down, not the whole thing, but he picks out a few key points to make this larger point and the point is this. They all experience these blessings. The whole people experience these blessings, rich, covenant spiritual blessings of God. And yet, and yet, they were overthrown. God was not happy. Was Not pleased with most of them, he says. It's a testimony to God's grace and it's also a reminder that God is willing to act as a father, to discipline those whom he loves.

And so as we think about what he did for them and as we regotrinize, recognize that we are a part of this same family, we're supposed to remember that God will act in similar ways with us. But let's take a look at some of the specifics that he mentions here, because Paul does not want us to be unaware. So let's not be unaware. What is the first thing he mentions? He says he does not want us to be unaware that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea. What is Paul mean by this? He's referring to the events that are recorded in exodus, chapters thirteen and fourteen. To summarize, the scriptures tell us that, as God led the way to the promised land. He did so very visibly. Imagine that you're in Egypt. God rescues out of Egypt, your your out and he tells you that there's this promised land. How are you going to get there? It's very practical problem. God doesn't give them a map. God doesn't even speak through Moses. Right, you might think that that's maybe what he would do. Instead, what he does is he covers himself in a pillar of a cloud and he leads them visibly. Imagine a giant cloud, a giant pillar of a cloud that would that you could see. They would see this cloud and the scriptures tell us that it would lead them by day and at night it would become a pillar of fire. God would lead the way and night a night, by night, in a pillar of fire to give them light that they might travel by day and by night. An amazing thing, can you imagine? That may have, but most of us have done some desert hiking at some point, even if it's just, you know, from your front door to your driveway with a flashlight, right to make sure there's no snakes or whatever here. Of the people of God, or walking through the wilderness with a pillar of fire leading the way. Do you think you might remember that it was God who is leading you in a moment like this. Now, just to be clear, there probably were not two different clouds, but one cloud on that within light up with fire at night. Exodus Forty thirty eight teaches us this when it simply calls it the cloud and says the cloud of the Lord was on the Tabernacle by day and the fire was in it by night, and the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys, numbers nine, tells us that what would happen is that this cloud would move, and when it moved, the people moved right and it's God moved, the people would move, and then when it stopped, well, God's not leading them anywhere anymore. So this is where we camp, and that might be a couple days, it might be a couple weeks, it might be a month, and...

God would rest over the Tabernacle that he had given instructions to be made, and that's where they would stay put. The cloud did more than this. It not only led them in this way, it was also a constant reminder that it was God who is leading them, keeping them and giving promises to them. The cloud was a comforting and helpful presence. Some one hive. Hundred and thirty nine says he spread a cloud for a covering and fire to give light by light by night. The cloud also pointed to God's holiness. It was a covering for the people, but it was also a covering for God, and from it he would speak, sometimes promises and sometimes the threatenings of the law so on. Ninety seven says it was the place that God spoke his will to Moses, and that's exactly what happened when this cloud descended on Mount Sinai. You remember that. Right when Moses went up on Mount Sinai, there was this giant cloud filled with flashes of fire, lightning perhaps, and and God spoke with great rumblings and terror. The people were so afraid that they they didn't well, God told them not to touch it lest they die, and they didn't until they made a calf. The cloud was a warning. It was both a comforting presence and it was also a terrifying one. It spoke to God's holiness. The cloud came between Pharaoh and God's people as a visible warning, comfort to the people and a warning to Pharaoh to leave them alone. As they crossed the Red Sea. Now, imagine this. You come out of Egypt, you're coming out of Egypt, there's this great pit, this great pillar, a cloud and fire leading you through. You get to the Red Sea, and then what happens? God parts the sea. The people move through. Then the cloud if fire, instead of staying in front of them in this one instance, moves behind them and is essentially blocking Pharaoh and his armies. Can you imagine how terrifying that would be, or should be terrifying, if you were Pharaoh, to all of a sudden have a giant cloud of fire in your way blocking you from the people of God? An amazing thing. And you know when Egypt didn't listen. We read that quote. The Lord in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and through the Egyptian forces into a panic and it eventually led to their destruction. And this is the event that Paul is referring to when he says that our others were under the cloud and all passed through the sea. He's talking about this event when, in the exodus, he led them out and then he led them through the sea, protecting them. A spectacular, spectacular image in which Paul reminds us how God blessed...

...and protected his people. This was not some Puffy, cute cartoon cloud in the sky. It was a cloud of power and Gloria, cloud reminiscent almost of chariots right kicking up dust, a giant army, just filling the air with with invisibility and power. God was marking himself, he was covering himself in a way, but he was also revealing himself as their divine warrior as he saved them through Egypt, or from Egypt and its idolatry, through the water of the cloud and see. Well, to help us understand and even more deeply what God was doing in this moment, Paul then puts these events in terms of baptism. Just as God uses water to mark our separation from slavery, a slavery to sin and the flesh and the devil, in our beginning to belong to a new covenant community, God did it exactly the same thing with Israel in this moment. They just did it all together. Instead of being baptized one by one, they were baptized all at once as they passed through this great tribulation of these waters and they pass through safety. But one other difference that is mentioned here. Paul doesn't dwell on it, but it speaks to other important things, is that they were not baptized into the name of God's son, as we are, but they were baptized in the name of God's Servant Moses, which means that these magnificent events, as grand and as marvelous and the spectacular as they are, are less desirable and less important than the baptism God has given you in the new covenant. Does that make sense to you? In other words, if you had to choose between the baptism that you have, when a Minister of the Gospel put water on you and baptized you in the name of the father and the whole son and the Holy Spirit, that is more desirable than this amazing event of going through the Red Sea with the pillar and all that, because they were only baptized into Moses. They were baptized into a covenant that would be broken. We are baptized into the sun, who comes and fulfills the law for US perfectly and completely. Yeah, I think on that and praise God. So this is what happened, right. This is the blessings which they had here, Israel had as they were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

That's number one. A second thing Paul mentions is that they all ate the same spiritual food. So the first thing we were reminded of was the work of God in the cloud and coming through the cloud, the whole community was blessed and safe from the armies of Egypt. The second thing Paul reminds us of is that they all ate of the same spiritual food. Now here Paul's referring to events that happen in Exodus Chapter Sixteen. To summarize what happens here, just a couple months, about two and a half after these events that we just spoke of, still being led by God and the pillar of the cloud, the people getting grumbling against Moses and Aaron. That's a word that comes up right aget in the commands of things that were not supposed to do. Grumble against God, and that's what they were doing. Why were they were grumble? Why were they grumbling? They're grumbling as most of the the same reason most of US grumble. They were hungry, right, they were hungry and they were wishing they were back in Egypt. Now, being hungry is not a sin, right. The God designed our bodies to need food. The proper response, though, is to ask God to provide for us, to ask God to sustain us and give us our need. And instead of that, they wanted to reject God, this very one who had done all of these things, and go back to Egypt, go back to idolatry. They were so unhappy, as is putting it mildly, they wanted to kill Moses. Now, in response to this, what did God do? Well, he did not strike them dead in this instance, but instead he graciously rained down on them from heaven bread enough for them all to eat and to have enough food for every day. God would give them meat to quail in the evenings, bread in the morning. And by this sign, we read God, God says, you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt. The Egyptian gods didn't help in this instance. It was Yahweh who brought them out. Next to this, one thousand six hundred and ten we read that as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked to the they looked toward the wilderness and behold the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. But, as with the sea, this event that God blessed his people with was not just about full bellies. It was about learning who God is and learning to live in him, as God tells the next generation after this and Deuteronomy eight, three, three, a passage that Jesus quotes during his temptation in the Wilderness. Speaking of this event, he says, Moses writes, any humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with Manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make...

...you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. The bread and, as we'll see in a moment, the drink to they're called spiritual because they do spiritual things by the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit being the one who brings the will of God to come to pass. The Lord and Giver of Life, he feeds not only the bodies of his people but also their souls. He uses these elements of food and drink in the Wilderness to point the people to the word of God, to the promises of God, to the hope of God, much as he does now in the Lord's Supper, where he uses physical elements to bless our souls by conveying in them the promises of Heaven, the Word of God, the bread of life and even Christ himself. This is what God was doing with his people, and so, as with the baptism at the sea, so also the feeding in the Wilderness. We see that all of the community was blessed. Now, if you're unfamiliar with these things that we're talking about, if these old testament stories are in familiar to you and you're feeling a little bit overwhelmed, it's okay. It's okay. Let the overwhelming, I would suggest, even be a blessing to you, as you are reminded of how much there is to know about the Lord, how much it goes on and on and on. They will never be enough time, enough space, to contain all that God has done and to reflect on it all. But let's try a little bit more and consider the spiritual drink that he mentions next. The events surrounding the food, as I mentioned, were recorded in Exodus Chapter Sixteen. The events surrounding the drink Paul mentions are in exodus seventeen, just as they found themselves hungry, and Exodus Sixteen, they found themselves thirsty in exodus seventeen. As the cloud moved, they moved, but now they were in a place where the cloud had stopped and there was no water. A problem. Exitus seventeen too, says. The people quarreled with Moses and he said give us water or they said give us water to drink, and Moses said to them, why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord? Again, it got so bad that they wanted to stone Moses. So Moses cried to the Lord and the Lord answered him. He told Moses to take his staff, the same staff that he had used to touch the Nile and turn it into blood, the same staff that he used to leave the people out of Egypt, and he was called to strike the rock at Horeb, and out of this rock would come water, and not like a little trickle, but enough water...

...for all of the people to drink. Amazing. Well, this place, that how this happened, came to be called Maraba, which means contention, or Massa, which means testing. They tested God, they grumbled, they complained, they threatened, they desired murder. All to turn back to Egypt, back to idolatry, back to sin. But, as numbers twenty thirteen tells us, it was there that God showed himself as holy through this mighty act. Regarding the drink, as with the food, he blessed people with the knowledge of his provision and of His Holiness. I think this is why the food and the drink are called spiritual. It's because they do spiritual things by the Holy Spirit God provides for them. God gives them life and he directs them to theology, he directs them to a greater understanding and of the knowledge of God. And again, all the people were blessed by this. So let me read what Paul has written so far. He says, I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ nevertheless, with most of them, God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now, before we turn to verse five and the consequences that flow from there, what does Paul mean by the Rock that followed them? Some people have trouble this one because we have no record in the Old Testament of a rock following the people of Israel. Some people of sometimes speculated that maybe the rock that Moses struck somehow went with them or something like that, but the scriptures don't say anything about that. So what does Paul mean? Well, Paul tells us the answer. By the Rock, he is not referring to some event that is unknown or unrecorded in the scriptures. He's recruit he's referring to God himself. He's referring to even Christ himself, who is God. He says, and I'll read it again, they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. In other words, this blessing of the water, as he just spoke about, that came from the Rock, was ultimately not from the rock. God Use the Rock. It was his means of grace to provide for his people, but he was the one doing the work. The Rock, the capital, our rock, was the one...

...to really pay attention to, and that's what they kept forgetting. They kept looking at their circumstances, they kept looking at the situation, they kept looking at Moses, when they should have been looking to God, the God who saved them, the God who is in the cloud, to the God who would rescued them out of Egypt, the one true God. That rock was the one that followed them, even Christ himself. Who is that rock? Now? Not only does Paul say this here, but he does so based on the Old Testament scriptures, as Greg Beale and Don Carson point out in their commentary on the Old Testament. Use of the Old Testament, the New Testament rock or the rock as the name of God. That's used five different times in Deuteronomy thirty two. So, for example, thirty two for the Rock. His work is perfect, for all his ways are justice, a god of faithfulness and without iniquity. Just and upright is he? Well, interestingly, the only other place in Deuteronomy that that word rock is used is in connection with this event, with the water of the Rock. So Deuteronomy eighteen we read that God brought you water out of the Flinty Rock. So, in other words, in the Old Testament itself, in Deuteronomy in particular, God connects his name with this event, and Paul picking up on this. He tells us this and he but he adds to it. He tells us that this one who followed them was God, the same God we worship in the person of Jesus Christ, and with those words that rock was Christ. Paul teaches us why we call these men and women of Israel are forefathers, because we're the same family. We're born of the same God, guided by the same Lord, under the same guide by the same Lord, in an Assemblar and, in a way, under the same kind of grace that he gives in baptism, then the supper and the protection of the spirit, just as they were, and I hope you know this, brothers and sisters. I want to take just a moment to emphasize this, because so many people, even Christians, ignore the Old Testament or, worse, they hated they think it's a wret, irrelevant or even bad. Some false teachers even encourage us to stick only to the New Testament, so as to stick with Christ, they say. But don't you see, Jesus isn't just in the New Testament, he's here in the old Paul says as much. The scriptures of the Old Testament themselves affirmness, active with the father and the spirit, doing miracles, winning victories, bringing about the salvation, just as he does...

...in the new. If you wouldn't want to skip over the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, why would you skip the accounts of Christ in Genesis, exodus, Leviticus, numbers and Deuteronomy? It's true. We have a treasure two thirds of our Bible. We have a treasure in the Old Testament and instead of being unaware of it, as Paul Begins, let's learn it and learn it well, for God is in it, even the Promised Messiah himself. So with that, what is the lesson that Paul wants us to learn here? Well, one, as he wants us to see the connection. He doesn't want us to be unaware. He also wants us to have a greater sense of the blessings that we have. We are those who, like them, have heard the word of God, we have been baptized, we have received God's meal, his spiritual food, is spiritual drink, and these are not small things. They're part of his work of grace in our lives. They are part of our the rescue operation that he's doing. I'm for US and getting us out of the dominion of darkness and bringing us into the Kingdom of his son. And, as I mentioned before, and these things in some ways are bigger and better than what came before. The Gospel is clear in them. They are closer and anticipate the end. They are available to gentiles as well as Jews. Second, Paul also wants us to reflect on what took place before so that we might see and what happened after. Despite all of these things, they disobeyed and God did not just go whatever. He punished them. He did. We read about that here. We read about people that were overthrown. We breed about some of them. Twenty threezero people falling in a single day. God is so patient with them. They're wanting to stone Moses and he gives them meat and bread. He does it, though, not because he winks at sin, not because he doesn't see the sin. And there are times when God will discipline us, sometimes even with death, that we might learn who he is. That's a hard teaching, but Paul will say in First Corinthians Eleven, the next chapter, we're coming to that some of the ways that the people were taking the Lord Supper was causing them to get sick and even die. God adopts this family, God calls them is chosen one, and then he treats them as a chosen one, as his child. Hebrews six warns us in the New Testament, says beware or less you taste and enjoy these spiritual benefits,...

...these heavenly benefits, and then fall away. God gives us these outward blessings, even inward blessings, but that doesn't mean he won't discipline us as a father does his children. And want to read to you a passage as we come to a close here, from first Peter. This is something we've been studying in our west side fellowship and I'd encourage you to attend if you're able. Our discussions are really enjoyable and rich. In First Peter, Chapter One, we are told that God is our father and we are we are, he says in Verse Fifteen. But is he who would called you as holy? You also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written you shall be holy for I am holy. And if you call on him as father or who judges impartially according to each one's deeds. Conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile. He's our father and that's not going to change. But knowing the kind of father he is, that he wants us to be righteous, that he wants us to be holy, that he wants us to be like him, he's a good dad, a perfect father, that he's not going to just ignore us when we go astray. He's going to chase after us and sometimes he's going to wait let us learn our lessons on our own. Sometimes he's going to give us caught, very direct and specific consequences so that we might learn these things according to his father's wisdom. But the point Peter says here, in line with what Paul says in First Corinthians, is that, knowing who God is, knowing that he judges impartiality, we ought to conduct ourselves with fear, but we also do so knowing something else, and Peter Continues Knowing. He says in verse eighteen that you are ransomed from the feudal ways you inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, brothers and sisters, as one motivation for obedience. We look at the grace of the Lord. God's grace doesn't spur us on to say, well, now I can do whatever I want, I don't care. It doesn't make sense, does it, when God has given us all of these things, God has adopted us as children. God has given the very blood of his son to ransom us from our sins. How much more ought we to be people that pursue righteousness? How much more ought we to be people that...

...reflect on His grace? We can look at the things in the past and the Old Testament, the things that happened in Christ, that Christ did for us in the new and let us not desire evil anymore. Instead, let us put to death the deeds of the flesh. Let them die in those that that watery flood right and and and and be purified and find new life in Christ. Do not be idolaters, he says. Let's not indulge in sexual immorality. Let's not be grumblers, because God is faithful. And, as he concludes the section, he says he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will provide way of escape that you may be able to endure it there for my beloved flee from idolatry. The good news of Christ, for those who accept it, startling an eye opening. The God would love his people so much that he would die for them, that he would send his only son to come into the world, to shed his own blood, to be a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. That's what he did. That's how we are in the place that we are, and because of that, let us pursue righteousness and flee from idolatry, not by our own strength, because that would be idolatrous. Let us flee from idolatry by looking to God when we're hungry, when we're thirsty, when we're scared, when we don't know what's going to happen next, when we don't know the way, instead of turning to our own passions, instead of turning to our own flesh and our own plans, let's learn to wait on the Lord. Ask Yourself, is he trustworthy? Can he provide? Can he rescue? Can he take care of us? And if you look at the Old Testament and if you look at the New Testament, if you look to Christ, who is the sum of all of these things, you will see that the answer is yes, yes, yes, yes. God is faithful. Put Your faith in him. Let's pray.

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