“Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” 1 Cor 10:1-5
“Moreover” is a connection word, a conjunction, a word that indicates Paul’s thought is continuing. What he had just finished talking about, in 1 Cor 9, was to run the race in such a way so that we will win the prize (1 Cor 9:24-27). Now he is saying, that the fathers, those who came out of Egypt with Moses, are our examples (1 Cor 10:6).
The fathers were delivered from slavery in Egypt. If they are our examples, we too were delivered from bondage in the kingdom of darkness. The fathers had Moses who accomplished their deliverance (Deu 18:15). We too have a Deliverer who is Messiah. The fathers were baptized in the Red Sea. We too were likewise baptized. The fathers received spiritual food and drink. We too are receiving spiritual food and drink for our growth and instruction and edification from Jesus the Messiah.
But then Paul says that with most of the fathers, God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. And why were they scattered? They lusted, they worshiped idols, they committed adultery, they refused to be thankful, they tested God. Paul is warning us, especially since this section comes after his admonition to run the race to receive the prize, that we too who think we are standing, need to take heed to ourselves lest we also fall as they did (1 Cor 10:12).
Wow, this sounds a lot like works! But what Paul is saying, is: the fathers are an example for us. They applied the blood of the Passover lamb to their doorposts, they were delivered from the angel of death. They were set free from the kingdom of darkness by type. They were baptized by type, they were given living bread (Word) and living water (Spirit) by type. They were not delivered and set free by merit, but by grace, by the promise God had made to the patriarchs!
But, those who despised their salvation, by breaking God’s commandments (do not bow down to idols, do not commit adultery, do not covet), God was not well pleased with them. They died in the wilderness and did not enter the Promised Land because of unbelief (Heb 3:16-19).
It takes faith to obey God, in other words! We have to believe that God is smarter than we are, and that He is higher than we are, and that He deserves our obedience and worship and service because He is YHVH! We have to believe that God’s Word is true and is forever settled in heaven (Psa 119:89). We have to believe that His ways are best, and walking according to His ways, even if it goes against the mainstream of the culture or the mainstream of whatever religious organization we belong to, will produce the best fruit of blessing in our lives (Psa 1)!
So by grace we are saved through faith, but now that we are saved, let us not despise our salvation and somehow fail to obtain the prize at the end of the race, because we showed by our works of disobedience, that our heart never belonged to God in the first place! Let us not show by our works of disobedience, that the true force motivating our heart was unbelief and not faith!
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Mat 7:21-23
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” Phi 2:12
“For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” Heb 3:16-19
“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Jam 2:14-17
“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” 1 Joh 2:3-6
What gets us into trouble is this crazy notion that faith and works of obedience are enemies of each other. Paul has thoroughly established that no one is ever saved by works of obedience, but by faith! But, he has also thoroughly established that salvation by faith is not a license to sin. The one who is saved by faith, will produce the fruit of faith in his life, which is obedience leading to sanctification. Faith and works of obedience are not enemies but are two sides of the same coin! The obedience of Joshua and Caleb, in strongly urging the people to enter the Promised Land, was not conjured up out of nowhere, but was the fruit of their faith in YHVH, that He was certainly able to perform His word toward them (Num 14:6-9)!
Now if the church could only understand that the Torah provides the definition of righteousness and sin for the believer, and will stop ignoring it as obsolete and passed away, but begin to use it as the plumb line to gauge the straightness of its walk, then they will enter into the renewal of their mind, by the washing of water by the Word (Eph 5:24-27), so as to prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom 12:2)!
If this is a new idea for you, that faith and obedience are not enemies, you might enjoy the following: