By Doug Bell
1 Corinthians 10:
1 ¶ “For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,
2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
3 and all ate the same spiritual food,
4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
6 ¶ Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.”
This passage may seem hard to understand, especially if our knowledge of the Old Covenant is limited. But if we break it down, bite by bite, it will become more apparent. The Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years (Genesis 15:13). God performed the 10 Plagues, the last being the death of all the firstborn of the Egyptians. Moses and Israel were driven out of Egypt and headed towards the “promised land.” When Moses and his people arrived at he Red Sea, Pharaoh and his Army were not far behind. Here is where our scriptures above start. God has been leading this group of freed slaves with a Cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night (Ex. 13:21). When the Israelites had their backs to the sea and nowhere to escape, God stood between them and Pharaoh’s army as a pillar of fire. He then commanded Moses to use the Staff (that he had used earlier) to part the sea. Israel passed through the sea on dry ground. As soon as the last one had crossed over safely, God withdrew his pillar of fire. The Army immediately ran after them and into the sea bed. When all the soldiers were half way, God brought the Sea Walls down and drowned the entire army. So Paul is reminding all of the Corinthians (and us).
1 “For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,“ as we just described above.
2 “and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,” this may confuse some because of the word baptized. It’s meaning is that Israel was immersed, not in the sea, but note ‘into Moses!’ This is showing how at that moment, the people were in solidarity with Moses as their leader.
3 “and all ate the same spiritual food,
4 and all drank the same spiritual drink…”
The Manna and the water were really ‘spiritual‘ because this food was provided by the Spiritual Power of God (Ex. 16:15; 17:6).
4b “For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”
As the preincarnate Christ was in the rock (in the sense He was also in the Burning Bush). These manifestations were to show how God was imminently involved in His chosen peoples lives. As Jesus told Peter, it was upon the ‘Rock,’ Jesus Himself that he would build His Church (Matt. 16:18).
5 “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wildernesses.” This is an understatement, because of Israel’s extreme disobedience, God only allowed two of the men who had left Egypt (Joshua and Caleb) to enter the promised land; all the others died in the wilderness, including Moses and Aaron who were disqualified from entering the Land (Num. 20:8-12, 24). * And then Paul tells us: 6 ”Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.” Examples for US, you and I. The parallels are evident. The Corinthians, as the Israelites, and the Church today. Just because people are ‘Baptized’ into a congregation. Just because people take the Lord’s Supper, doesn’t mean that God is happy with them! All should take their discipleship seriously and not presume upon God’s Grace. We are no better than the Israelites in the wilderness. If God didn’t fail to punish them when they sinned against Him. Neither will He spare us if we sin in the same way.
* The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1743.