Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 2 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 itwarns and threatens. Sometimes it teaches, sometimes it praises. It is manifold. God is manifold in the way that he speaks, and he always speaksto 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 giveour our full hearts to. Let's do that now. As we come tofirst Corinthians ten, versus one through fourteen, the Apostle Paul writes, for Ido not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were allunder the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all were baptizedinto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the samespiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from thespiritual rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ nevertheless, with mostof them, God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now, these things took place as examples for us that we might notdesire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of themwere. As it is written, the people sat down to eat and drinkand rose up to play. We must not indulge in sexual immorality, assome 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 weredestroyed by serpents, nor grumble as some of them did and were destroyedby 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 ageshas come. Therefore, let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lesthe 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 youmay be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry welland there for this morning, you may be seated. Well we havehere this morning in general, even if...

...you're not sure of what all thespecific things refer to. Is a very clear warning, don't we? Wehave 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 anda 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 wouldbe true. I need to flee from idolatry and sexual immorality, and thatwould certainly be true. But we ought to pay attention to what Paul sayswhen he says I do not want you to be unaware. Brothers, there'sa kind of wake up call that he wants us, he wants us tohave or to hear, and it comes through paying attention to the things thatGod has done in the past. In other words, it's not just thespecific instructions and commands that he gives to us, but it's these things inthe past that he wants us to know to learn from. They have apowerful way of speaking to us and reminding us of who God is and whathe has done the history that Paul recounts here is the history of of God'swork, 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 yourforefathers. 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 recordof our family, this is us and we ought to pay attention tothat because, Paul says, I do not want you to be unaware.So what is it that Paul wants us to know? What do we needto understand about the history that he recounts here? Well, it surrounds theexodus. Now, when Christians talk about the exodus, they're usually referring tothat great event in which God brought his people that had become very great andnumerous but had come under slavery in Egypt, when he brought them out of thatslavery 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 makethis larger point and the point is this. They all experience these blessings. Thewhole people experience these blessings, rich, covenant spiritual blessings of God. Andyet, and yet, they were overthrown. God was not happy.Was Not pleased with most of them, he says. It's a testimony toGod's grace and it's also a reminder that God is willing to act as afather, to discipline those whom he loves.

And so as we think about whathe did for them and as we regotrinize, recognize that we are apart of this same family, we're supposed to remember that God will act insimilar ways with us. But let's take a look at some of the specificsthat 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? Hesays he does not want us to be unaware that our fathers were all underthe 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 andfourteen. To summarize, the scriptures tell us that, as God led theway to the promised land. He did so very visibly. Imagine that you'rein Egypt. God rescues out of Egypt, your your out and he tells youthat 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 evenspeak through Moses. Right, you might think that that's maybe what he woulddo. Instead, what he does is he covers himself in a pillar ofa cloud and he leads them visibly. Imagine a giant cloud, a giantpillar of a cloud that would that you could see. They would see thiscloud and the scriptures tell us that it would lead them by day and atnight it would become a pillar of fire. God would lead the way and nighta night, by night, in a pillar of fire to give themlight that they might travel by day and by night. An amazing thing,can you imagine? That may have, but most of us have done somedesert hiking at some point, even if it's just, you know, fromyour front door to your driveway with a flashlight, right to make sure there'sno snakes or whatever here. Of the people of God, or walking throughthe wilderness with a pillar of fire leading the way. Do you think youmight 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. ExodusForty thirty eight teaches us this when it simply calls it the cloud and saysthe cloud of the Lord was on the Tabernacle by day and the fire wasin it by night, and the sight of all the house of Israel throughoutall their journeys, numbers nine, tells us that what would happen is thatthis cloud would move, and when it moved, the people moved right andit'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 thathe 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 thisway, it was also a constant reminder that it was God who is leadingthem, keeping them and giving promises to them. The cloud was a comfortingand helpful presence. Some one hive. Hundred and thirty nine says he spreada 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 wouldspeak, sometimes promises and sometimes the threatenings of the law so on. Ninetyseven says it was the place that God spoke his will to Moses, andthat'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 cloudfilled with flashes of fire, lightning perhaps, and and God spoke with great rumblingsand 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 untilthey made a calf. The cloud was a warning. It was both acomforting 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, comfortto the people and a warning to Pharaoh to leave them alone. As theycrossed 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 inthis 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 offire 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 Lordin the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forcesand 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 thatour others were under the cloud and all passed through the sea. He's talkingabout this event when, in the exodus, he led them out and then heled them through the sea, protecting them. A spectacular, spectacular imagein which Paul reminds us how God blessed...

...and protected his people. This wasnot some Puffy, cute cartoon cloud in the sky. It was a cloudof power and Gloria, cloud reminiscent almost of chariots right kicking up dust,a giant army, just filling the air with with invisibility and power. Godwas marking himself, he was covering himself in a way, but he wasalso revealing himself as their divine warrior as he saved them through Egypt, orfrom 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 inthis moment, Paul then puts these events in terms of baptism. Just asGod uses water to mark our separation from slavery, a slavery to sin andthe flesh and the devil, in our beginning to belong to a new covenantcommunity, 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 thesewaters 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 weare, but they were baptized in the name of God's Servant Moses, whichmeans that these magnificent events, as grand and as marvelous and the spectacular asthey are, are less desirable and less important than the baptism God has givenyou in the new covenant. Does that make sense to you? In otherwords, if you had to choose between the baptism that you have, whena Minister of the Gospel put water on you and baptized you in the nameof the father and the whole son and the Holy Spirit, that is moredesirable than this amazing event of going through the Red Sea with the pillar andall that, because they were only baptized into Moses. They were baptized intoa covenant that would be broken. We are baptized into the sun, whocomes and fulfills the law for US perfectly and completely. Yeah, I thinkon that and praise God. So this is what happened, right. Thisis the blessings which they had here, Israel had as they were baptized intoMoses in the cloud and in the sea.

That's number one. A second thingPaul mentions is that they all ate the same spiritual food. So thefirst thing we were reminded of was the work of God in the cloud andcoming through the cloud, the whole community was blessed and safe from the armiesof Egypt. The second thing Paul reminds us of is that they all ateof the same spiritual food. Now here Paul's referring to events that happen inExodus Chapter Sixteen. To summarize what happens here, just a couple months,about two and a half after these events that we just spoke of, stillbeing led by God and the pillar of the cloud, the people getting grumblingagainst Moses and Aaron. That's a word that comes up right aget in thecommands of things that were not supposed to do. Grumble against God, andthat's what they were doing. Why were they were grumble? Why were theygrumbling? 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 theywere 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 sustainus and give us our need. And instead of that, they wanted toreject God, this very one who had done all of these things, andgo back to Egypt, go back to idolatry. They were so unhappy,as is putting it mildly, they wanted to kill Moses. Now, inresponse to this, what did God do? Well, he did not strike themdead in this instance, but instead he graciously rained down on them fromheaven bread enough for them all to eat and to have enough food for everyday. God would give them meat to quail in the evenings, bread inthe morning. And by this sign, we read God, God says,you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the landof Egypt. The Egyptian gods didn't help in this instance. It was Yahwehwho brought them out. Next to this, one thousand six hundred and ten weread that as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the peopleof Israel, they looked to the they looked toward the wilderness and behold theglory 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 ofthis event, he says, Moses writes, any humbled you and let you hungerand fed you with Manna, which you did not know, nor didyour fathers know, that he might make...

...you know that man does not liveby bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouthof 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 cometo pass. The Lord and Giver of Life, he feeds not only thebodies of his people but also their souls. He uses these elements of food anddrink in the Wilderness to point the people to the word of God,to the promises of God, to the hope of God, much as hedoes now in the Lord's Supper, where he uses physical elements to bless oursouls 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 withhis people, and so, as with the baptism at the sea,so also the feeding in the Wilderness. We see that all of the communitywas 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 alittle bit overwhelmed, it's okay. It's okay. Let the overwhelming, Iwould suggest, even be a blessing to you, as you are reminded ofhow much there is to know about the Lord, how much it goes onand on and on. They will never be enough time, enough space,to contain all that God has done and to reflect on it all. Butlet'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 ExodusChapter Sixteen. The events surrounding the drink Paul mentions are in exodus seventeen,just as they found themselves hungry, and Exodus Sixteen, they found themselves thirstyin exodus seventeen. As the cloud moved, they moved, but now they werein a place where the cloud had stopped and there was no water.A problem. Exitus seventeen too, says. The people quarreled with Moses and hesaid give us water or they said give us water to drink, andMoses said to them, why do you quarrel with me? Why do youtest the Lord? Again, it got so bad that they wanted to stoneMoses. So Moses cried to the Lord and the Lord answered him. Hetold Moses to take his staff, the same staff that he had used totouch the Nile and turn it into blood, the same staff that he used toleave the people out of Egypt, and he was called to strike therock at Horeb, and out of this rock would come water, and notlike a little trickle, but enough water...

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

...to really pay attention to, andthat's what they kept forgetting. They kept looking at their circumstances, they keptlooking at the situation, they kept looking at Moses, when they should havebeen looking to God, the God who saved them, the God who isin the cloud, to the God who would rescued them out of Egypt,the one true God. That rock was the one that followed them, evenChrist himself. Who is that rock? Now? Not only does Paul saythis here, but he does so based on the Old Testament scriptures, asGreg 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 thename 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 inDeuteronomy that that word rock is used is in connection with this event, withthe water of the Rock. So Deuteronomy eighteen we read that God brought youwater out of the Flinty Rock. So, in other words, in the OldTestament itself, in Deuteronomy in particular, God connects his name with this event, and Paul picking up on this. He tells us this and he buthe adds to it. He tells us that this one who followed themwas 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 thesemen and women of Israel are forefathers, because we're the same family. We'reborn of the same God, guided by the same Lord, under thesame guide by the same Lord, in an Assemblar and, in a way, under the same kind of grace that he gives in baptism, then thesupper and the protection of the spirit, just as they were, and Ihope you know this, brothers and sisters. I want to take just a momentto emphasize this, because so many people, even Christians, ignore theOld Testament or, worse, they hated they think it's a wret, irrelevantor even bad. Some false teachers even encourage us to stick only to theNew Testament, so as to stick with Christ, they say. But don'tyou see, Jesus isn't just in the New Testament, he's here in theold Paul says as much. The scriptures of the Old Testament themselves affirmness,active with the father and the spirit, doing miracles, winning victories, bringingabout the salvation, just as he does...

...in the new. If you wouldn'twant to skip over the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John, whywould you skip the accounts of Christ in Genesis, exodus, Leviticus,numbers and Deuteronomy? It's true. We have a treasure two thirds of ourBible. We have a treasure in the Old Testament and instead of being unawareof 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 usto be unaware. He also wants us to have a greater sense of theblessings that we have. We are those who, like them, have heardthe 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 partof our the rescue operation that he's doing. I'm for US and getting us outof the dominion of darkness and bringing us into the Kingdom of his son. And, as I mentioned before, and these things in some ways arebigger 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 wellas Jews. Second, Paul also wants us to reflect on what took placebefore so that we might see and what happened after. Despite all of thesethings, they disobeyed and God did not just go whatever. He punished them. He did. We read about that here. We read about people thatwere overthrown. We breed about some of them. Twenty threezero people falling ina single day. God is so patient with them. They're wanting to stoneMoses and he gives them meat and bread. He does it, though, notbecause 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 Paulwill say in First Corinthians Eleven, the next chapter, we're coming to thatsome of the ways that the people were taking the Lord Supper was causing themto get sick and even die. God adopts this family, God calls themis chosen one, and then he treats them as a chosen one, ashis child. Hebrews six warns us in the New Testament, says beware orless you taste and enjoy these spiritual benefits,...

...these heavenly benefits, and then fallaway. God gives us these outward blessings, even inward blessings, butthat doesn't mean he won't discipline us as a father does his children. Andwant 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 fellowshipand I'd encourage you to attend if you're able. Our discussions are really enjoyableand rich. In First Peter, Chapter One, we are told that Godis our father and we are we are, he says in Verse Fifteen. Butis he who would called you as holy? You also be holy inall your conduct, since it is written you shall be holy for I amholy. And if you call on him as father or who judges impartially accordingto 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 kindof father he is, that he wants us to be righteous, that hewants 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 ignoreus when we go astray. He's going to chase after us and sometimeshe's going to wait let us learn our lessons on our own. Sometimes he'sgoing to give us caught, very direct and specific consequences so that we mightlearn 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, knowingwho God is, knowing that he judges impartiality, we ought to conduct ourselveswith fear, but we also do so knowing something else, and Peter ContinuesKnowing. He says in verse eighteen that you are ransomed from the feudal waysyou 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 motivationfor obedience. We look at the grace of the Lord. God's gracedoesn'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, whenGod 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 oursins. How much more ought we to be people that pursue righteousness? Howmuch more ought we to be people that...

...reflect on His grace? We canlook at the things in the past and the Old Testament, the things thathappened in Christ, that Christ did for us in the new and let usnot desire evil anymore. Instead, let us put to death the deeds ofthe flesh. Let them die in those that that watery flood right and andand 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, hesays he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with thetemptation he will provide way of escape that you may be able to endure itthere for my beloved flee from idolatry. The good news of Christ, forthose who accept it, startling an eye opening. The God would love hispeople so much that he would die for them, that he would send hisonly son to come into the world, to shed his own blood, tobe a sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. That's what he did. That's howwe are in the place that we are, and because of that,let us pursue righteousness and flee from idolatry, not by our own strength, becausethat would be idolatrous. Let us flee from idolatry by looking to Godwhen we're hungry, when we're thirsty, when we're scared, when we don'tknow what's going to happen next, when we don't know the way, insteadof turning to our own passions, instead of turning to our own flesh andour own plans, let's learn to wait on the Lord. Ask Yourself,is he trustworthy? Can he provide? Can he rescue? Can he takecare of us? And if you look at the Old Testament and if youlook at the New Testament, if you look to Christ, who is thesum of all of these things, you will see that the answer is yes, yes, yes, yes. God is faithful. Put Your faith inhim. Let's pray.

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