These things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.
–1 Corinthians 10:6
As Christians, we are not exempt from God’s discipline if we disobey Him. That was Paul’s warning to the church at Corinth. He pointed to the Israelites–even though they were God’s people, they fell into sin and experienced His judgment. Look at 1 Corinthians 10:1, 3-4: “I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; . . . and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink.”
God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt. He revealed His law to them. He supernaturally provided for them in the desert. “Nevertheless,” Paul said, “with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness” (v. 5). That phrase “laid low” means “strewn.” They were scattered in the wilderness. This is a reference to Numbers 14. The Israelites sent twelve spies into the promised land to see what obstacles they might encounter. Ten spies came back and said, “The challenge is too great.” But two spies said, “Yes, the challenge is great, but our God is greater. If we will follow Him, we can overtake the land.” The people believed the majority report, and God pronounced His judgment against them: “Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers. . . . ‘[Their] corpses will fall in this wilderness’” (vv. 22-23, 29).
What happened to those Israelites who failed to believe God? They never entered the promised land. Instead, they experienced the harsh discipline of God. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:6, “These things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.” That word translated as “examples” is “tupoi,” which literally means “that which has been struck by a heavy blow.” Paul was saying the Israelites received the heavy blow of God against them so you and I can learn what happens to believers who fall away from God.
What lessons do we need to learn from the Israelites? First of all, God has not changed in three thousand years. He hates sin just as much and judges it just as fiercely today as He always has. Second, being the beneficiaries of God’s blessing does not exempt us from God’s judgment if we disobey Him. Today, the Christian landscape is littered with the lives of disobedient Christians who experienced the harsh judgment of God on their lives. Like the Israelites, they made the mistake of believing that because they were blessed by God, they were exempt from His judgment. No, we are all at risk of falling into sin and being disciplined by God.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Believer Beware” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.