1 CORINTHIANS 10
1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;
That is, the miraculous and specially provided cloud of God's protection and guidance was spread over them all. Surely they could feel, "We are the chosen people."
2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
Here again a great miracle was openly performed on their behalf. Every one of them had the impressive personal experience of passing through that divinely provided channel of deliverance from bondage to freedom. This passage through the sea, with the water standing on both sides and the shielding cloud enveloping them above, Paul likens to baptism. And in this act Egypt - the world of sin - was left behind, and their former masters, the Egyptians - the old man of the flesh - were drowned in the cleansing baptismal waters.
...when Israel was brought to the birth, and stood trembling on the shore of the Red Sea, they were about to be introduced into Moses. They had been begotten of God as His national first-born; but were they to be born of water into the everlasting possession of Canaan; or into a possession in which they were only "strangers and sojourners" in the land?
That would depend upon the question of their national baptism into Moses, or into Christ: if into Moses, they could only inherit according to his law; but if into Christ, then they would obtain an everlasting national possession of the land, of which no other nation, or confederacy of nations, could deprive them.
But they could not be nationally baptized into Christ, for Christ had not come; and until He came, and as the mediatorial testator of the Will, suffered death, neither individual nor nation could have everlasting inheritance in the land; for the Will, or covenant, was of no force while the testator was undeceased.
But there is an end of all question in the case. The apostle in reference to the passage of the Red Sea, writes, "I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized INTO Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (1 Cor.10:1, 2).
This was the national baptism. An entire obscuration of a whole nation from the view of all beholders on either shore. It was buried, not in the sea only, but in the cloud and in the sea -- a cloud, which was black with darkness to the Egyptians, but light to Israel between the icy walls of the sea.
But, though buried, the nation rose again to a new life upon the opposite shore, leaving all their tyrant taskmasters, and all their bondage behind them, washed away by the returning waters of the deep. First, then, believing in Moses and in the Lord, they were baptized into Moses, and so "saved that day out of the hands of the Egyptians" who were washed up "dead upon the seashore" (Exod. 14:26-31).
In celebration of this great deliverance, they sang the song of Moses. What a thrilling incident was this! Six hundred thousand men, besides women, children, and a mixed multitude, encamped upon the shore, and singing the song of the Lord's victory over their enemies!
After magnifying the gloriousness of His power, and the great salvation with which He had delivered them, they rejoiced in the future that awaited their nation, when it should realize the possession of the land of Canaan under the sceptre of Shiloh "for ever and ever." "Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance; in the place, 0 Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in; in the sanctuary, 0 Lord, which thy hands have established. The Lord shall reign for ever and ever (Exod. 15:17, I8).
Let the reader peruse the song of Moses, and bear in mind that it is not only a magnification of the past, but also prophetic of as great, or a greater deliverance, of the nation under Shiloh.
Under Moses they were saved by the angel of God (Exod. 14:19); but when the time of the second exodus from Egypt arrives, they will be saved by the Lamb of God, whose prowess will be applauded by God's harpists of the crystal sea, who will sing the new song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,
"Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, 0 Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy; for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest (Rev. 15:1-5).
Elpis Israel 2.4.
3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;
4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
In these five things, the Israelites all partook of God's intimate favour and fellowship, but still He finally rejected them and scattered their carcases in the wilderness. The Israelites had every reason to believe that they were a specially selected and favoured group, but they had the bitter lesson to learn that as regards eternal salvation, God has no favourites. He is no respecter of persons. His ways are rigidly just and equal. As a man sows, so shall he reap.
The manna and the water from the rock are called "spiritual" because they were specially provided by the Spirit of God and not by natural, human effort; and also because they typified the true spiritual meat and drink of the Word, and of the Word-made-flesh, by regular partaking of which we may (and must) be spiritually transformed, and finally reborn of Spirit-power.
5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
Let us bear in mind what Paul is driving at. He is saying that though all the Israelites partook of these things, yet the great majority were finally rejected and destroyed in the wilderness simply because - with special divine blessing and manifestations showered on them from every angle - they would not make the effort to rise above their natural, animal desires and way of life.
Paul is drawing the parallel between their spiritual food and drink, and the bread and wine of the Lord's supper. The manna, we are told (Num. 11:8) was ground or beaten to make bread, just as the Passover lamb was slain to provide the protecting blood, and the rock had to be smitten to provide the life-giving water.
In all these things we are reminded that in the great battle against the evil consequences of sin, our Leader had to give up his life under the most cruel and agonizing conditions. This is to teach and impress on us that the struggle for holiness and life is not a pleasant, easy pastime but a vitally serious thing which only a few have the wisdom to apply themselves to and follow through to the end.
Bro Growcott - The Smitten Rock.
They never reached the promised rest, and never will. The Revised Version says, "With MOST of them God was not pleased." They were a nation under divine sentence of death. For forty years they wandered with the sentence hanging over them, each waiting his turn to die. On the average, one hundred bodies were left behind every day for forty years. "With most of them God was not well pleased," though they had done just what was natural and human in the circumstances. "Natural" and "human" are not qualities that please God.
Bro Growcott - The Treasures of Egypt
6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
And, like as he had mentioned five ways in which they had been divinely blessed, he now lists five ways in which they betrayed the blessing and brought destruction upon themselves. The five were: lust, idolatry, fornication, tempting and murmuring...
The lust was for the good things of Egypt. It was quite natural for them to desire the pleasing things of the world they had come out from. Truly there were many pleasant and desirable things about Egypt, which at that time led the world in all the arts and sciences and flesh-pleasing contrivances of man. Forty years is a long time to wander in a hot, dry, barren wilderness, partaking of the same monotonous, unchanging food day after day.
But if they had been able to rise to the broader, spiritual view of the matter, they would have seen things differently. Egypt, with all its pleasures, was a land of futureless death. They were on the Divine road of life and promise. If they only had had eyes to see the manna, the smitten rock, the tabernacle, the pillar of fire, the plagues of Egypt, the Passover, the crossing of the Red Sea, the miracles of Moses - all these things were concrete evidences that they were part of a marvellous, history-making divine operation that linked them to eternity.
Viewed in the proper perspective, what were the poor, passing pleasures of benighted Egypt? But they forgot the glory of God that had lifted them up, and could think only of the garlic and onions of Egypt. It is very easy to let food and animal pleasures monopolize much of our thoughts and conversation - to forsake spiritual food in the interest of natural food. Of such Paul sadly says,
"Whose god is their belly, who mind earthly things" (Phil. 3:19). Moses had the proper outlook. The apostle records of him (Heb. 11:26) that he-
"Esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward."
He weighed up all that Egypt had to offer and he could see through its empty deceptiveness and its inevitable end. Doubtless, he too, naturally speaking, would have enjoyed some of the pleasures and comforts of Egypt, but he realized that there were more important things in life than babyishly catering to the flesh. He had a work to do and a goal to reach.
The Treasures of Egypt
These incidents had a secondary import which is found in the antitypes of the forty-second generation. Thousands of Israelites and Gentiles believed the gospel of the kingdom, and were baptized into Christ.
As a whole they constituted "a holy nation" -- a nation within the nation -- which fed upon the true bread of heaven, and drank of the water of life by faith in the things of Christ.
But they were and are still strangers and sojourners in the world, which to them is like the wilderness of Arabia to Israel of the fourth generation. But there have been multitudes in Christ, as there were in Moses, who did run well but were afterwards hindered. They turned back in their hearts to Egypt, loving the present world, and not having faith enough to get the mastery over it.
Now, the apostle likens such to those of the fourth generation who were murderers, and faithless, and whose carcasses fell in the wilderness, from which they will never arise to enter the land of Israel under Shiloh.
...Their faith was addressed through sensible objects; ours through written testimony. But for the most part professors look not beyond "the things which are seen and temporal." Whether in Moses, or professedly in Christ, they are mere creatures of sensation, who walk by sight and not by faith.
Let us, reader, not be of this number; but let us rejoice in hope of the promise made to the fathers, though at present it seemeth not to the eye of sense to grow. "If a man eat of this bread (the spiritual) he shall live in the Age (EIS TON AIONA);" and, drinking of the blood of Christ, which is the spiritual drink represented by Horeb's stream, the Rock of Israel will raise him up at the last day to life in the age to come (EIS ZOEN AIONION.)
But if, after their example, we love the present world, though we may have believed and obeyed the truth in the beginning, we shall come under the sentence of exclusion from "the rest which remains for the people of God."
Elpis Israel 2.4.
7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
And what of idolatry and fornication and tempting and murmuring - the other examples of failure that Paul calls to our attention? As to the first, it is hard to draw a clear dividing line between lust and idolatry. All lust is a form of idol worship and voluntary slavery, but the Apostle's distinction seems to be that by idolatry he refers to the placing of faith, trust or dependence upon something, as upon money or insurance. The commonest form of this idolatry is self-confidence or self-reliance-depending upon the arm of the flesh. Perhaps, too, he has in mind the angle of service, devotion or worship, as when he says - as previously quoted-
"Whose god (or idol) is their belly."
The Treasures of Egypt
8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.
9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.
And the sin of "tempting"-what is that? The example Paul gives is when it is recorded (Num. 21:5)-
"The people spoke against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?"
They "spoke against God!" What unutterable folly! But is it not an easy thing to fall into, when the presentation to us of God's commandments is irksome and restrictive? Of course we would not admit we were speaking against God. It is safer to appear to be directing our annoyance against man, as they did against Moses. But when the people in the days of Samuel clamoured for a king, God put His finger on the heart of the matter. "They have not rejected YOU," He told Samuel, "they have rejected ME" (1 Sam. 8:7).
God told Samuel they were running true to the rebellious pattern they had always followed from the time He brought them out of Egypt. They had said then, "Let us make a captain, and let us return unto Egypt" (Num. 14:4).
They pretended it was on account of Samuel's sons. This gave them a handle. But really they lusted after a worldly setup of splendor and magnificence. They wanted to be like the world -to have all its flashy tinsel, in all the latest models. God warned them, but still they blindly persisted in their headlong way.
We tempt God when we set our judgment and opinion against His. When, instead of casting aside the deceptive reasoning of the flesh and seeking to learn from Him, we rather attempt to find something in His Word that we can interpret to justify our own views and desires. If our scriptural judgment in any matter corresponds with our natural feelings, then we should examine both very carefully, for they are probably wrong. The commands of God are usually plain if we are anxiously seeking to understand and to always be on the safe side in any matter of doubt. Jesus said-
"The Word that I have spoken, the same shall judge you in the last day" (Jn. 12:48).
He will have a Bible there, and it will only be necessary for him to open it and point silently to some passage to put many to confusion and shame. Let us try to take every precaution not to be among them.
Bro Growcott - The Treasures of Egypt
10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
The basic frame of mind of the godly man should be calm, contented gratitude and praise. Anything else is a reproach against God. Restlessness and dissatisfaction are basic evils of the flesh. "Keep your life free from covetousness, and be CONTENT with such things as ye have" (Heb. 13:5) is a command of God for the free development of the spiritual mind - a clear, plain command - that will loom to far greater importance at the judgment-seat than it does today.
Bro Growcott - The Treasures of Egypt
11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.
12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
As he says in the next chapter in relation to the partaking of the memorial supper- "Let a man examine himself."
Let him take the searching spotlight of the Spirit-Word and turn its full glare upon the inner workings of his fleshly mind. What he sees if he looks carefully will move him to exclaim with Paul,
Who shall deliver me from this body of death?"
But if the whole counsel of Scripture is eagerly and unreservedly accepted and applied, he will be able to also say with the apostle-
"I strain forward toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus . . . I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me" (Phil. 3:14; 4:13).
Bro Growcott - The Treasures of Egypt
20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
'...participation... in a feast in an idol-temple was tantamount to idolatry, so real was the fellowship with idols (even though themselves nonentities) which he saw symbolized in the eating of meat which had just been offered upon the altar as an act of worship to them.
Law and Grace Ch 2.
31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
WE must unify our lives with one central motive: the glory of God. Everything we think, say or do must be for this purpose. Everything that does not contribute to it, or that detracts from it, must be put away.
This alone is joy and peace.
Bro Growcott - Search Me O God
32 Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the ecclesia of God:
When our conduct becomes a cause of peril to our brother's salvation, it is time to put a limit on our liberty.
"Give none offence." "Bear the infirmities of the weak." "Let no man seek his own."
These precepts express our duty. But let us clearly and rightly understand our duty. No one is asked to cut and trim his ways to suit every brother's whim and fancy. To attempt this task would mean failure.
To uphold crotchets, or endorse unnecessary prejudices, is no obligation of the truth. What the Scriptures ask a believer to do is this-to avoid a course which will lead to the defilement of his brother's conscience, or his perdition. This is practicable and reasonable.
The principle called for may be illustrated in many ways. Paul cites the observance of days, the eating or non-eating of foods offered to idols. But nineteenth century affairs may be brought in. The partaking of pork, blood, alcohol, the attending of oratorios, etc., concerning the legality of all these matters, brethren have shown scruples. If we are in the company of such, and bring pressure to bear to induce them to indulge in those things, then we infringe, for "he that doubteth is damned if he eat."
This view is confirmed by the apostolic command that there is to be no judging in this matter-neither on the one side nor the other. What we have to remember is that all things which are lawful are not expedient. We are required to think of this, and for the brethren's sake to make sacrifices, endure self-denials, to do nothing which will endanger the salvation of those for whom Christ died.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, Jul 1901