Reader: “If you think you are standing strong,”
Response: “be careful not to fall.”
Scripture: I Corinthians 10:1-13
I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.”And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day.
Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.
If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
Reader: This is the word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.
Dennis Prager, a conservative Jewish talk show host, made this observation in one of his books on The Rational Bible. “Memory permeates faith. No memory, no faith.” Think about the importance of memory. The portion of Scripture for today begins with, “I don’t want you to forget dear brothers and sisters . . .” It is important to remember history as it truly was. Memory is a marvelous thing. It is necessary for sanity. One of the reasons God gave the Jewish people the festivals of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of First Fruits, Pentecost, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles, was to remind, bring back to memory what God had done for his people and to remind the people of what not to do. Past history was and is one of our most valuable and essential teachers.
So here, Paul walks the Corinthians through a portion of Israel’s history. Corinth was a pagan city known for sexual immorality and a godless pagan culture. There were Romans, Greeks, Jews and other ethnic groups from all around the Mediterranean Sea inhabiting the city. Also, Corinth was strategically located on the east to west trade route which further invited a wide span of cultures intermingling. So Paul wanted the Jews to bring to memory their ancestral and historical heritage. His epistle also informed those non-Jews of God’s dealing with rebellious people.
God had provided for his people in the past. Christ was the Rock in the desert, literally the source of living water. God guided the Israelites with the cloud. He baptized them via their journey through the Red Sea. Yet, (what an unsettling word,) God was not pleased with them and that generation died in the wilderness. There were serious consequences for rebellion as 23,000 died in a single day. His reference was to serve as a warning to the current Corinthian population to examine and repent of their sinful ways.
Moses wrote down all that happened to serve as recorded memory for future generations of God’s people. (Deut.31:9) He instructed the priests to read to the people God’s instructions on how to live in relationship to Him. Paul is doing the same thing here. He is describing what happens to people who give in to temptation which is a form of rebellion against God.
The good news comes in the last two sentences. While temptation comes to every person, “God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” And we go back again to the first words, “I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters . . .” In this case, memory is our friend. “Memory permeates faith.”
Music: “Hear My Prayer, O Lord” Purcell Voces8
Prayer: Lord, I am blind and helpless, stupid and ignorant. Cause me to hear, cause me to know, teach me to do, lead me to obedience.
―Henry Martyn, 1781-1812