Paul is an apostle who understood and enjoyed liberty and that’s why in chapter 9 of this book he would say – “All things are lawful for me.” He would have liberty but not the kind of liberty that leads to death… the death of people around him who would get stumbled by watching him exercise his liberty… and his own death spiritually. So give me liberty but Lord make sure that the liberty I exercise is in such a way that it wouldn’t lead to the death of those around me or of the ministry entrusted to me. 1 Corinthians 8, 9 and 10 is about Christian liberty. The glorious liberty that we have in Christ. The Corinthians wrote to Paul and asked him “What should we do about this controversial issue concerning meat that has been offered to idols which are sold at discount prices in the market place?
Some Christians looked at that as a good deal, so they had no problems buying it while some were opposed to it because it was offered to idols. So Paul uses this to explain to them about Christian liberty. In chapter 8 Paul says that the meat offered to idols is not bad meat so can be consumed, but if a weaker brother sees you consuming that meat and has a problem with you doing that then give it up. Why exercise your liberty if it’s going to make a weaker brother to stumble… makes no sense.
Chapter 9 Paul uses himself as an example of how he had the liberty to do certain things but chose to not exercise them for the sake of others. He talked about his own ministry, how he had certain privileges and rights but didn’t exercise the privileges or rights because he didn’t want to offend or stumble one who was weaker than him. Stumbling someone would disqualify him from the race, just like a real race, if you stumble someone then you get disqualified from the whole event. But Paul has the eternities value in view. So he (Paul) doesn’t want to stumble someone not just for their sake but for his own sake as well, so he doesn’t get disqualified.
In chapter 10 Paul talks about another group that was set free, they had been in bondage for four hundred years in Egypt but now set free. The people of Israel although were set free, they became disqualified from entering the land of promise because of their sin and their stupidity. Paul uses himself as a good example in chapter 9 of this book and then uses the nation of Israel as a bad example in chapter 10. God had intended for the Israelites to enter the land of promise but because of their foolishness they were disqualified.
1 Corinthians 10:1 & 2
Paul is asking them to think about their history… how the people of Israel in times past, were baptized unto Moses, they went through the Red Sea following Moses – you know the story! It’s an allegory, an illustration of what happens to you and me, they followed Moses, and we follow Jesus. Even as they followed Moses through the Red sea – a type of baptism, we follow
Jesus as he was baptized, so we too get baptized identifying with Him, becoming one with Him. The people of Israel were baptized unto Moses, we are baptized into Jesus.
We were in bondage, in Egypt, slaves to our own sensuality, the Lord came and delivered us and we were baptized. It also says that after being baptized unto Moses, they were under the cloud. They were now being led, after being released from bondage. They were being led through the wilderness on their way to Israel which is a picture in Bible typology as the Spirit filled life, where there is richness and abundance.
What cloud is this? This cloud was a pillar of fire by night illuminating the way and was a cloud covering them throughout the day. They would simply be guided by a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day into the land of promise. Out there in the wilderness it was hot. So as the cloud moved, they moved with it… that’s the kind of God we serve. He will not let you cook in the sun while he leads you, he will provide the shade for you, and will be a pillar of light by night.
People today are sweating it out trying to know and asking around what the will of God is… but Jesus says “My burden is easy and my Yoke is light.” In Ezekiel 44:17 – 18 it says ministers of the Lord should not wear anything made of wool for wool causes perspiration. The Lord wants you to be cool as He guides you and engage in ministry.
1 Corinthians 10:3 &4
Baptized in the Red Sea, led by God as they stayed under the shade, they were fed with Manna every morning, the nation of Israel drunk water from a rock – Jesus Christ – the perpetual source of refreshment. (John 7:37), Paul tells us that the rock that followed them was Jesus Christ. Jesus is the perpetual source of refreshment…
1 Corinthians 10:5
“But with many of them God was not pleased,” is an understatement of Mammoth proportions. Three million Jews left Egypt and were provided for supernaturally but only two entered the Promised Land – Joshua and Caleb. The people of Israel were being death Marched, executed if you will. God was not pleased with them.
The wandering in the wilderness and warfare in the promised land are not simply historical incidents but practical illustrations for our personal application.
- One of the lessons we learn is that though we are set free, even though we are at liberty,lust will trip us up. The reference is in the book of Numbers 11, where we read that the Israelites were tired of Manna and lusted after meat. Isn’t that what Lust really is? Not being satisfied with what God has given us? Wanting something or someone different?
Manna was supernatural, and miraculous even but the demanded for meat to eat. So God said to Moses “Give them Meat.” “How are we going to do that?” asked Moses. “Do you want me to kill the cattle that we are bringing into the Promised Land – or do you want me to fish the Red Sea?”
Moses made a mistake that we always make… he was giving God options not knowing that God had a totally different plan in mind. An alternative that he would have never imagined. God sent so many quail, they flew three feet above ground level and the men would strike them with their clubs. Every man gathered ten of them so there was more than enough to go around.
They ate until it overflowed from their nostrils. The psalmist sheds light into this when he says “In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the waste land they put God to the test. So He gave them what they asked for but He sent leanness to their soul” (Psalm 106:14 – 15). That’s what Lust is. Never satisfied, it brings leanness to the soul, weakness to the body and emptiness to the spirit. Lust is like a fire… the more you feed it the hotter it becomes and the more it demands… eventually it kills you. It empties your spirit and pauses a danger to your body. These people ate themselves literally to death.
1 Corinthians 10:7
- Watch out for idolatry. Exodus 22… Moses is getting the Ten Commandments and below people are wondering about Moses. They ask Aaron to be their leader, they give Aaron all their jewelry and he fashioned an idol – a golden calf. The people celebrated and played around the Idol. Moses comes back and furious at what he witnessed, he smashes the tablets and asks Aaron – what are you doing? The Golden calf was an attempt to make something visible and touchable that would represent the nature and character of YHWH to them. The cow would represent God. Many cultures considered a cow at that time to be the representative of deity to them – why? It’s gentle and provides milk for its young, powerful yet not threatening. The Israelites knew better yet they made something to represent God to them. That’s the problem with idolatry. If we allow anything or anyone to represent God to us, it will at best only partially represent the full aspect or character of God. This leaves open a real problem… so it will not matter if you are immoral before it. God is gentle, and provides for His young…God is also Lion like. He is holy, and righteous and powerful and awesome.
We may not have shrines or statues but we need to watch out that we don’t have something or someone eg… a book, a ministry, a boyfriend, girlfriend to represent God in our lives. Be careful. We must not make God in our own Image because it will not fully represent God. Cows are not intimidating but Lions are. Jesus reveals the father.
1 Corinthians 10:8
- Fornication. Watch out for fornication in this life of liberty. The people of Israel died – 24,000 died according to Numbers 25. Fornication is a killer. How many fall today because of fornication? Our culture is collapsing through the media as they flaunt sexuality. Yes you are free but do not start down a road that will lead to compromise in sexuality. What you do, where you go, the stuff you are reading… watch out.
1 Corinthians 10:9
- Numbers 21:5 – they tempted Christ – How? They Complained and asked Moses why he brought them out to the wilderness to die. In reality they were slaves but claimed it was good in Egypt. The mind plays tricks on us sometimes. They were lonely, guilty and empty. Historians say that at the time Egypt didn’t have Mellons, Onions and leaks, only Israel had them. Do not tempt Christ by grumbling – Why am I here? Why am I with him? Are some of the questions we ask… When you complain about your situation then you are complaining directly against Christ because He is the one who allows you to be there. Snakes appeared and inflicted bites upon them and they begun to die.
1 Corinthians 10:10
- They Murmured. Numbers 14:12. They murmured after the spies were sent to check out Canaan only two came with a good report – again Joshua and Caleb. But the rest told them about the Giants, and spread negative news about the land. Caleb said the Giants are bread for us and we will be nourished and be stronger. Caleb ended up going into the Promised Land, and he was 85 years old at the time. Caleb was asked by Joshua to choose the land he wanted, and Caleb at 85 says he is as strong as he was the prime of his life, and chooses the mountain where the giants live because they are bread for him (Joshua 13). We complain and Murmur but the things we murmur about are the very things God uses to make us stronger. Imagine how different society would be if we thought trials to be bread for us? Only very little in number would survive in thinking like Caleb. Only two originals made it in to the Promised Land… out of 3 million.
1 Corinthians 10:11
All these things were recorded as examples to us so that we can learn from them. Experience is the best teacher but it doesn’t have to be our experience. Let’s talk about Achan… why was he stoned along with everyone in his family for stealing some stuff? To serve as an example. Our sin affects everyone else liked with you. It hurts them too. God is just. Maybe their ministry was to be an example to many 5 thousand years later… about how sin affects all.
Yes you are free… but if you think you are standing then take heed because you can be wiped out very easily just as the children of Israel if you don’t do it wisely and prudently. They did all the above and missed out by a whisker. You are free but be free wisely.