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1 Corinthians 10:6 by Robert Dean
Series:1st Corinthians (2002)
Duration:1 hr 3 mins 5 secs

Negative Examples from Israel; 1 Cor 10:6


1 Corinthians 10:6 NASB "Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved."

There are two important concepts mentioned in this verse, the first being the concept of example. This is the Greek word TUPOS [tupoj] from which we get our English word "type," and it means an example or a foreshadowing of some future event. This brings in the whole subject of what is called typology. Typology is that study of the Scriptures where certain historical events are analogous to realities that will take place in the future, and these historical events that occurred in the Old Testament simply foreshadow the future events or they teach in some sort of visual or picture format some doctrinal reality that is abstract and difficult to understand. For example, in the Old Testament is the ark of the covenant, a type of the work of Christ on the cross, specifically propitiation. When we look at the construction of the ark of the covenant and it was a type of the person of Jesus Christ. It was a wooden box made of acacia wood that was then covered with gold. This is a picture of the combination of the deity of Christ and the humanity of Christ. The lamb that was offered as a sacrifice was a type of Christ in that it was a lamb without spot or blemish and that pictured the sinlessness or impeccability of Jesus Christ.

You have to be very careful how you handle types. You can't just go into the Scriptures independently of the Scriptures and see something that has a parallel to an event or the person and the work of Christ and then just arbitrarily say that this must be a type of Christ. That is illegitimate That is illegitimate hermeneutics. The Bible gives us the key to interpreting itself. You have to base these types of the Scriptures and then Scriptures tell us how these are used and where they work. So the starting point is the Bible and not your own independent ideas or autonomous reasoning. Typology, then, deals with events in the Old Testament that God specifically identifies as events that foreshadow future doctrinal realities, future historical realities, and usually in relationship to the person or the work of Jesus Christ or something in the spiritual life of the church age believer. Even though the church is not known in the Old Testament these things portray for us certain doctrinal realities. The Old Testament believers may not have understood all of the significance of those things either.

The word "us" is a reference to church age believers. Therefore we are to go back and look at the events, specifically of the Exodus generation. That is the literal interpretation, however it has a broader application in terms of Old Testament events. The Old Testament events mirror or reflect certain realities for the future church age believer that we can learn from and that we are to learn from, but that is application. Specifically Paul is talking about the Exodus generation events. "… so that we," and here we have an EIS [e)ij] clause plus an aorist infinitive to express the purpose of these examples: "so that we would not crave evil things." Here we have verb from EPITHUMIA [e)piqumia] meaning to lust after, to crave, to desire evil things. There was a distortion of priority by the Exodus believers. Psalm 106:14 NASB "But craved intensely in the wilderness, And tempted [tested] God in the desert." This is the Exodus generation and they were always the paradigm of the rebellious believer and what not to do. Their focus was always on what they had lost in Egypt and not on all the grace provision that God gave them in the desert, and this was a test of God. They were testing God again and again to see if God would take care of them, if God would provide for them, and they did not trust God in the wilderness. That generation of Jews rejected the faith-rest drill as the principle for their life. In the Old Testament the faith-rest drill was the basis for living the spiritual life.

We are not to crave or to desire or to lust after the evil things as they lusted. What were the evil things that they lusted for? The evil things that they lusted for were everything promised by the human viewpoint thinking of the Egyptian culture out of which they came. This is made clear the next verse, verse 7: "Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, 'THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.'" This is the specific area of lust or craving that Paul is honing in on. There are many different types of lust that flow from the sin nature: sex lust, materialism lust, money lust, approbation lust, power lust, lust for pleasure; there are many different kinds of lust. It is a lust for a false religious system and a false god that is the issue here, and that is ultimately the foundation of all other lust patterns. It always comes down to what is being worshipped. In approbation lust what is being worshipped is your own desire to get attention. In power lust it is the self again that is being worshipped. In money lust it is usually materialism that is being worshipped, the things that money can buy. There are various different objects of lust and they all ultimately replace God in their system. It is a way of worshiping something other than God, putting something else in the place of God. This event that is reference in verse 7 goes back to what happened at Mount Sinai when Moses is up on the mountain being given the ten commandments, the Decalogue, the ten words from God. Paul warns us not to fall into the same trap as they did.

The phrase, "as it is written" is the perfect passive indicative of GRAPHO [grafw] and it is a formula for quoting Old Testament Scripture. There are two quotes in the New Testament from secular Greek and this phrase is not used when it quotes from secular sources. It is used only when the Old Testament is quoted, when the Word of God is being quoted, and the perfect tense of the verb indicates completed action, and the emphasis is on the abiding or continuing results of the verb: what we now have, what God revealed in the past and has an ongoing impact. The emphasis is on the divine origin and the infallibility of the Scriptures. So here we get a snapshot of how the people fell into idolatry in the Old Testament. Moses is up on the mountain and they become bored, and they decide that God has destroyed Moses because he has been gone so long, they haven't heard a word from him, so they begin to conspire among themselves that they need to placate God. In order to do that they fall right back into their preconceived notions of a deity they picked up from the Egyptians. They pressure Aaron into building a golden calf for them, a representation of the Egyptian god Aphis, and the people began to worship the golden calf. Idolatry in the ancient world was almost always associated with the fertility cult where they would end up having an orgy, and then a sex orgy on top of that, in order to somehow placate the gods. All of this, of course, is blasphemy and an abomination to God.

We read about this in Exodus 32:4, 6 NASB "He took {this} from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, 'This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.'… So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play." This is exactly what idolatry is. It is identifying something other than God and worshipping that. What this is an example of is believers who fail to learn about God and His nature so that after they are saved they fall back on their pagan preconceived notions of who God is and how God operates. We see this today. A prime example: we go off to a war, very clearly a war that follows all of the parameters and all of the guidelines for just war as outlined in the Scriptures, and yet you have people who ask how this can be justified from the Bible. That God wouldn't like this because God says you should not kill. But the Bible does not say you should not kill, it says you shall not commit murder.

What happens every time people have some sort of idea of what God is or God's fairness is that they bring that to the text. You have to start with the Scriptures, you can't start with these independent ideas of what you think God is. It is amazing how many people think that on the strength of their own opinion or own experience they can automatically identify who God is and what He is like without ever listening to His revelation of Himself in Scripture. That is nothing more than arrogance and it is a form of mental, idolatry. They just have conjured up their own god in their mind, and it is a mental form of idolatry.

When you put anything ahead of God, ahead of the Word of God in terms of priority in life that is idolatry. Not all idols are physical. There are many times in life that we make gods of success, we make gods of happiness, we make gods of social life, gods of self-image, and we put those things ahead of the study of the Word of God. Then we make decisions based on this false priority system and rather than being in Bible class, rather than being involved with the study of God's Word, rather than listening to a tape or making sure that our children understand that our priority is the study of God's Word over anything else in life no matter how good it is, and when we do that that becomes idolatry and it suddenly destroys our spiritual life.

When Israel did this they identified the golden calf as God: "This is your God that brought you out of the land of Egypt." When we attribute to anything other than God that which God alone can do, that is idolatry. It doesn't matter what name or what tag you put on something, whether you call it God, Jesus, or anything else, that doesn't make it so. You have to let the Bible define who God is and who Jesus is. The result was they conducted their worship just like they did is all pagan systems. This is another point. Worship can't be this autonomous idea of worship either. This also happens. People come to church and they have their own ideas of worship, and then when they leave church they say: "Oh, we really worshipped God today." This is because they went through some ritual that they have been trained to identify with worship, or they sang certain kinds of songs which they identified with worship, and so they develop this autonomous definition of worship, and then if they go to church and they do that then it is worship, and if they don't do that it wasn't worship. Worship in the Scripture has the idea of putting a priority on God and attributing to God that which God has done. In order to do that we have to know who God is and what he has done, and we can only do that through the study of the Scriptures. Singing hymns and songs is a response to what God has done and it is very important that the hymns and the music that we sing are hymns that have words that are sound theologically and music that is good music.  

The biblical words for worship both in Hebrew and in Greek are related to attributing value and worth to the object. They are words that mean to bow the knee, to submit to the authority of someone. So when we worship God we are submitting to His authority. To submit to His authority means that we are learning His commands so that we can obey His commands. This is why Jesus said: "If you love me you will keep my words." So the highest form of worship is to know the Word of God so that we can apply the Word of God and obey the Word of God.

So what happened to the Israelites is they had their own view of worship which they brought with them from Egypt, and so the next morning they got up early, they offered burnt offerings to the golden calf and they brought peace offerings. Then the text says: "the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play." Actually this is a euphemism for the fact that they sat down and had an orgy, and then when they rose up to play that has a strong sexual connotation. The Hebrew word here that is translated "play" is the verb tsachaq and it is the verb root form from which we get the name Isaac. The root meaning is laughter, and it also has a negative connotation of making fun at somebody or deriding somebody, and it becomes a euphemism for a sexually suggestive dance as a foreplay for an orgy. In fact, this word is translated "caressing" in Genesis 26:8. So these Israelites begin to have an orgy at the foot of Mount Sinai while Moses is being given the ten commandments which began with a prohibition against having any other gods, and they are down there creating their own god.

As a result of that God disciplined Israel and some 3000 of them were killed under divine discipline, according to Exodus 32:28, because of their idolatry.

1 Corinthians 10:8 NASB "Nor let us act immorally [sexual], as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day." This refers to a different event, an event that is described in Numbers chapter 25. It relates to Israel's immorality some time later after the Kadesh-barnea incident and they are out in the wilderness, when they are going up through Moab and Balaam announces his curse and plan for Israel to distract them through sexual immorality. Numbers 25:1 NASB "While Israel remained at Shittim, the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab." This was Balaam's plan. Since Israel couldn't be defeated militarily because they had God behind them the way for the Moabites to defeat them was to entice them sexually with their women. Then when they married the Moabite women they would be influenced to worship the Moabite religion and this would destroy their allegiance to God and this was the best way to destroy Israel. That is exactly what happened. As a result of this God began to discipline them through a plague. [4] "The LORD said to Moses, 'Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the fierce anger of the LORD may turn away from Israel.'"

Numbers 25:6 NASB "Then behold, one of the sons of Israel came and brought to his relatives a Midianite woman, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting. [7] When Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he arose from the midst of the congregation and took a spear in his hand, [8] and he went after the man of Israel into the tent and pierced both of them through, the man of Israel and the woman, through the body. So the plague on the sons of Israel was checked."

This was by a leader who had a clear understanding of the spiritual issues involved and a clear understanding of divine absolutes who was willing to take strong action. When he took this action to kill this man and woman then God stopped the plague. [9] "Those who died by the plague were 24,000." In 1 Corinthians 10:8 it says in one day 23,000 fell, the total number that died was 24,000. 

1 Corinthians 10:9 NASB "Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents." This is another situation that took place in Numbers chapter 21 where the people are disobedient to God. It is referenced in John 3:14, 15 as a type of Christ. Just as the serpent was raised up and the people looked and were saved, so Christ would be raised up and those who look to Him would be saved. [10] "Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer." God under divine discipline sent a disciplinary angel who once again wiped out the Jews in divine discipline. [11] "Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction [admonition], upon whom the ends of the ages have come." Don't ever think that the Old Testament isn't relevant for the church age believer. That is the point here. [12] "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall." This is the Corinthians believers. They thought they had it made, they thought they knew all doctrine, and Paul warns them that the person who thinks he has made it in the spiritual life should be careful, should watch out, because he is on the verge of failing in the spiritual life. Now Paul draws a conclusion. [13] "No temptation [testing] has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it." The Greek word for "temptation" is PEIRASMOS [peirasmoj] and it has two meanings. One is an overt test or evaluation or situation where you have to make a decision or apply something. The other meaning has the idea of that subjective attraction to lust, but that is not the idea here. This is the objective meaning. There is no difficulty that we will run into in life that is uncommon. Everybody runs into these same kinds of situations. God will not allow the believer to be tested beyond his ability, but the believer's ability is defined by what is available to him in the Word of God. God is faithful, he controls the circumstances, and any test that we go through indicates that God realizes that we have the information and the capacity to handle the situation. The way to escape is not a way to avoid the test, it is a way to stay in the test, to stay through the test, and still have that perfect peace and calm and happiness that God provides for us. We understand that our stability, our peace, our happiness is not dependent on circumstances. [14] "Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry."