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Appealing to the example of the Israelites in the wilderness, Paul warns that not everyone who saw the miracles entered the promised land. Being part of the tribe does not guarantee God’s favor.
In 1Corinthians 8-10, Paul addresses the question of whether it is okay to eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols, an issue which is splitting the Corinthian church.
- In 1Corinthians 8, Paul agreed that it is okay to eat the meat, but if the action causes another to stumble, then we should refrain.
- In 1Corinthians 9, Paul used his practice of declining support when it would hinder his proclamation of the gospel, as an example of how the Corinthians should exercise their freedoms.
Paul has addressed several issues around this question of eating meat sacrificed to idols:
- The pressure to join them in eating that the meat-eating group is putting on the abstaining group is unloving and unfaithful.
- The meat-eating group ought to value loving their brothers and obedience to God more than indulging their freedom.
- The meat-eating group may be using their freedom as a covering to participate in idolatry – which is the issue Paul warns against in 1Corinthians 10.
10:1For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3and all ate the same spiritual food; 4and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. 6Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. 7Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” 8Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. -1Corinthians 10:1-12
- Idolatry is more than worshiping the wrong deity or thinking God can be captured in a statue; It is looking to someone or something else other than God to provide life and blessing.
- Paul’s emphasis is that ALL of the Israelites saw the miracles in the wilderness, but that participation did not guarantee God’s favor.
- Likewise, the fact that the Corinthians have been baptized, take communion and are part of the local church does not guarantee God is pleased with them.
- Each individual must choose to follow God.
- By “spiritual” food and “spiritual” drink, Paul means supernatural.
- Water from the Rock refers to Exodus 17 and Numbers 20.
- Just as the people in the dessert were delivered from death by the water God miraculously provided from the rock, likewise we are delivered from death by Christ.
- 1Corinthians 10:5 is Paul’s key point.
- 1Corinthians 10:7 refers to Exodus 32.
- 1Corinthians 10:8 refers to Numbers 25.
- 1Corinthians 10:9 refers to Numbers 21.
- 1Corinthians 10:10 could refer to several incidents, perhaps Numbers 14.
- To try the Lord is to demand that God proof himself when He has already given you ample proof.
- Paul’s point is being part of the tribe does not guarantee God is pleased with you. Each individual has to choose faith and choose to follow God.
- Learn from the lesson of the Israelites and make the right choice.
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.
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Series: 1Corinthians: Pride & Prejudice in the church
Study: 1Corinthians Resources
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