I Corinthians 10: 1- 13 (A Translation by William Barclay)
Brothers, you must never forget that our ancestors all journeyed under the pillar of cloud, and all passed safely through the Red Sea. In the cloud and in the sea they were all baptized as followers of Moses. They all ate the same supernatural food, and they all drank the same supernatural drink, for they drank from the supernatural rock which accompanied them on their journey- and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless most of them incurred the displeasure of God, and the desert was strewn with their dead bodies. These events are intended as symbolic warnings to us not to set our hearts on evil things, as they did. Nor must you become idolaters, as some of them did. As scripture says: ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to indulge in their heathen sport.’ Nor must we commit fornication as some of them did, in consequence of which twenty-three thousand died in a day. Nor must we try to see how far we can go with God and get away with it, as they did, and in consequence were destroyed by serpents. Nor must you grumble against God, as some of them did, and in consequence were killed by the Angel of Death. What happened to them is intended as a symbolic warning to us. These events were recorded as advice to us, for we are living in the age to which all the ages have been leading up. One warning emerges from all this- anyone who thinks that he is standing securely must be careful in case he collapses. You have been involved in no trials except those which are part of the human situation. You can rely on God not to allow you to be tested beyond what you are able to cope with. No! When trial comes he will send you along with it the way out of it, to enable you to bear it.
I Corinthians 10: 14- 22 (A Translation by William Barclay)Therefore, my dear friends, have nothing to do with idolatry. I assume that I am speaking to sensible people. Decide for yourselves whether what I say is reasonable or not. You would agree that the cup of blessing for which we give thanks is a means of sharing in the blood of Christ. You would agree that the bread which we break is a means of sharing in the body of Christ. Because there is one loaf, and because we all receive a share of the one loaf, although we are many, we are one body. Look at the actual Jewish practice and belief. The worshippers receive their share of the meat of the sacrifice and eat it; the altar receives its share. Does that not make altar and worshippers partners? What is my argument? That a thing offered to an idol has any real existence? Or that an idol itself has any real existence? No, but I am arguing that the sacrifices of the pagans are offered to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to become partners with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot share the Lord’s table and the demons’ table. Or do we want to make God jealous? Are we stronger than he is?
The significance of expounding details of the Israelite exodus from Egypt is no mere history lesson! The temptations and potential pitfalls that overcame the vast majority of those who left Egypt are real and deadly in this age in which Christians enjoy the benefits of Christ’s accomplishments. Continual, vigilant humility is required instead of the arrogant presumption that one stands so securely that he is in no real danger of collapsing miserably. Those who call themselves Christians would do well to seriously heed such warnings!
In the middle of such solemn warnings, there is a marvelous reminder of God’s trustworthy nature when believers are tried. He assures Christians that no temptation is outside the realm of that which is common to human beings. He does not allow his people to be tested beyond their capacity to deal with the situation at hand. When trials are present He will faithfully provide the means of escaping any temptation. What fabulous comfort for those who earnestly desire to stay loyal to God and not be overcome by the trials of life!
The careful avoidance of mixed allegiances is so important. One should not casually go along with idolatrous associations, even if socially in vogue, and assume that betrayal of Christ is not involved. Stumbling carelessly into partnership with demons should be evaded with zealous vigilance. Indeed, we are not stronger than the loving, “jealous” Heavenly Father who has called us into exclusive devotion to Him, for He is the only source of real, meaningful life, the life freely poured out and embodied by Christ’s sinless sacrifice. Thus, such factors should be seriously contemplated when believers meet and eat as family members, and when the Lord’s Supper is celebrated.
…to be continued.