Learning from Israel’s Failures
1My dear fellow believers, you need to understand that all of our Jewish ancestors who walked through a wilderness long ago were under the glory cloud # 10:1 The cloud of glory is a picture of the Holy Spirit. and passed through the waters of the sea on both sides. 2They were all baptized # 10:2 Or “baptized themselves.” There are at least eight distinct baptisms mentioned in the New Testament: (1) the baptism of John (John 1:31–33), (2) Christ’s baptism (John 3:22), (3) a baptism of suffering (Luke 12:50), (4) a baptism into the cloud of glory (1 Cor. 10:2), (5) a baptism into the sea (a picture of redemption—1 Cor. 10:2), (6) believer’s baptism in water (Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38–41), (7) baptism into Christ and into his body (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27), and (8) baptism in the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11–14; Acts 1:5; 11:16; 19:2–3). See also Heb. 6:2. into the cloud of glory, into the fellowship of Moses, and into the sea. 3They all ate the same heavenly manna # 10:3 Or “spiritual food.” See Ex. 16; Ps. 78:24–25; John 6:31–48. 4and drank water from the same spiritual rock # 10:4 See Ex. 17:6; Num. 20:7–21; Ps. 78:15. that traveled with them—and that Rock # 10:4 Christ is the anointed Rock of truth and the Rock of shelter. The people drank of his living water. The miracle of the Rock of Christ provided them with water wherever they journeyed. He is a fountain that never runs dry, for he will never leave us alone in a wilderness. was Christ himself. 5Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their dead bodies were scattered around the wilderness. # 10:5 The Aramaic can be translated “They failed [the test] in the wilderness.”
6Now, all these things serve as types and pictures for us—lessons that teach us not to fail in the same way by callously craving worthless things 7and practicing idolatry, as some of them did. For it is written:
The people settled in to their unrestrained revelry, with feasting and drinking, then they rose up and became wildly out of control! # 10:7 Although most translations have “They rose up to play,” this is misleading. To translate the Greek word paizō in this context is extremely difficult. However, because of the next verse, it appears Paul is saying that they rose up after feasting and drinking to fall into immorality. Although paizō could be translated “They rose up to sport” or “They rose up to hilarity,” it seems that sexual immorality is the more likely inference here. The Aramaic word can be translated “carouse.”
8Neither should we commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, which caused the death of twenty-three thousand # 10:8 Some manuscripts have “twenty-four thousand.” See Num. 25:9. on a single day. 9Nor should we ever provoke the Lord, # 10:9 Some manuscripts have “Christ.” as some of them did by putting him to outrageous tests that resulted in their death from snakebites day after day. # 10:9 See Num. 21:5–9. 10And we must not embrace their ways by complaining—grumbling with discontent, as many of them did, # 10:10 In the Pentateuch there are at least sixteen occasions of the people of Israel murmuring. Believers today have even more spiritual blessings than Israel experienced in the wilderness, which would make our complaining even more odious. and were killed by the destroyer! # 10:10 Or “the destroying angel.”
11All the tests they endured on their way through the wilderness are a symbolic picture, an example that provides us with a warning so that we can learn through what they experienced. For we live in a time when the purpose of all the ages past is now completing its goal within us. # 10:11 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “The end of the ages has arrived upon us.” 12So beware if you think it could never happen to you, lest your pride becomes your downfall.
The Way of Escape
13We all experience # 10:13 Or “which has fastened onto you.” times of testing, # 10:13 Or “temptation.” which is normal for every human being. But God will be faithful to you. He will screen and filter the severity, nature, and timing of every test or trial you face # 10:13 That is, God’s faithfulness and grace will limit the severity of every test and prevent you from being tested beyond your ability to cope. Unlimited grace is available for every believer who faces hardship, temptations, and seasons of difficulty. so that you can bear it. And each test is an opportunity to trust him more, for along with every trial God has provided for you a way of escape # 10:13 Or “an exodus.” Trust in God’s faithfulness is the way of escape that empowers us to overcome every difficulty we may experience. We are not told that every difficulty will be removed from our lives, but that God’s grace provides an exit path. that will bring you out of it victoriously. # 10:13 Or “God bears up under you to take you out of danger” (Gr. hupophero) or “God provides a way of escape so that you may be empowered to endure it.” God’s faithfulness gives us both a way of escape and the power to endure.
14My cherished friends, keep on running far away from idolatry. 15I know I am writing to thoughtful people, so carefully consider what I say. 16For when we pray for the blessing of the communion cup, isn’t this our co-participation with the blood of Jesus? # 10:16 The Aramaic can be translated “the presence of the blood of Jesus.” There is no indication that the communion elements are “symbols.” Life is not imparted by partaking of a dead symbol or emblem. When we take communion (common-union) we participate in the reality and substance of the blood and body of our Lord Jesus. And the bread that we distribute, isn’t this the bread of our co-participation with the body of Christ? # 10:16 The Aramaic can be translated “the presence of the body of the Messiah.” 17For although we’re many, we become one loaf of bread and one body as we feast together # 10:17 The Aramaic can be translated “We are nourished by that one loaf of bread.” on one loaf.
18Consider the people of Israel when they fell into idolatry. When they ate the sacrifices offered to the gods, weren’t they becoming communal participants in what was sacrificed? 19Now, am I saying that idols and the sacrifices offered to them have any value? 20Absolutely not! However, I am implying that when an unbeliever offers a sacrifice to an idol, it is not offered to the true God but to a demon. I don’t want you to be participants with demons! 21You can’t drink from the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You can’t feast at the table of the Lord and feast # 10:21 Or “participate,” which is the Greek word metaecho, or “echo with.” at the table of demons. 22Who would ever want to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Is that something you think you’re strong enough to endure? # 10:22 Or “Are we really stronger than he is?”
Living for God’s Glory
23You say, “Under grace there are no rules and we’re free to do anything we please.” Not exactly. Because not everything promotes growth in others. Your slogan, “We’re allowed to do anything we choose,” may be true—but not everything causes the spiritual advancement of others. 24So don’t always seek what is best for you at the expense of another. 25Yes, you are free to eat anything without worrying about your conscience, 26for the earth and all its abundance belongs to the Lord. # 10:26 See Pss. 24:1; 50:12; 89:11.
27So if an unbeliever invites you to dinner, go ahead and eat whatever is served, without asking questions concerning where it came from. # 10:27 Or “questions of conscience.” 28But if he goes out of his way to inform you that the meat was actually an offering sacrificed to idols, then you should pass, not only for his sake but because of his conscience. 29I’m talking about someone else’s conscience, not yours. What good is there in doing what you please if it’s condemned by someone else?
30So if I voluntarily participate, why should I be judged for celebrating my freedom? # 10:30 Or “eating food that I gave thanks for.” 31Whether you eat or drink, live your life in a way that glorifies and honors God. 32And make sure you’re not offending Jews or Greeks or any part of God’s assembly over your personal preferences. 33Follow my example, for I try to please everyone in all things, rather than putting my liberty first. I sincerely attempt to do anything I can so that others may be saved.