Israel in the Wilderness
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Moreover, brothers, I would not that you should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud…

The Israelites are here introduced as exemplifying a common experience. They accepted the position of God's people; but failed in its duties.


1. They were all baptized unto Moses. By passing through the Red Sea at his command they definitely renounced Pharaoh and as definitely committed themselves to Moses, and were as certainly sworn to obey him as ever was Roman soldier who took the oath to serve his emperor. When, at Brederode's invitation, the patriots of Holland put on the beggar's wallet and tasted wine from the beggar's bowl, they were baptized unto William of Orange and their country's cause. When the sailors on board the Swan weighed anchor and beat out of Plynmouth, they were baptized unto Drake and pledged to follow him and fight for him to the death. Christian baptism, then, if it means anything, means a line drawn across the life, and proclaims that to whomsoever we have been bound, we now are pledged to this new Lord, and are to live in His service.

2. Israel had also a spiritual food and drink analogous to the Communion. They were not led into the desert, and left to do the best they could on their own resources. He who had encouraged them to enter on this new life was prepared to carry them through. Their food and drink were "spiritual," or sacramental, i.e., their sustenance continually spoke to them of God's nearness and reminded them that they were His people. And as Christ said of the bread at the Last Supper, "This is My body," so does Paul say, "That Rock was Christ."

II. THE MANNA AND THE WATER WERE TYPES OF CHRIST, serving for Israel the purpose which Christ serves for us, enabling them to believe in a Heavenly Father who cared for them, and accomplishing the same spiritual union with the unseen God which Christ accomplishes for us. It was in this sense that Paul could say that the Rock was Christ.

1. Israel did not know that, nor as they drank of the water did they think of One who was to come and satisfy the whole thirst of men. The types simply worked by exciting there and then the same faith in God which Christ excites in our mind. It was not knowledge that saved the Jew, but faith, attachment to the living God as his Redeemer there and then. So every sacrifice was a type of Christ; not because it revealed Christ, but because for the time being it served the same purpose as Christ now serves, enabling men to believe in the forgiveness of sins.

2. But while in the mind of the Israelite there was no connection of the type with Christ, there was in reality a connection between them. The redemption of men is one whether accomplished in the days of the Exodus or in our own. The idea of salvation is one, resting always on the same reasons and principles. The Lamb was slain "from the foundation of the world," and the virtue of the sacrifice of Calvary was efficacious for those who lived before as well as for those who lived after it.


1. Instead of learning the sufficiency of Jehovah they began to murmur and lust after evil things, and shrank from the hardships and hazards of the way.

2. And so, says Paul, it may be with you. You may have been baptized, and may have professedly committed yourself to the Christian career; you may have partaken of that bread and wine which convey undying life and energy to believing recipients, and may yet have failed to use these as spiritual food, enabling you to fulfil all the duties of the life you are pledged to. Had it been enough merely to show a readiness to enter on the more arduous life, then all Israel would have been saved, for "all" passed through the Red Sea. Had it been enough outwardly to participate in that which actually links men to God, then all Israel would have been inspired by God's Spirit and strength, for "all" partook of the spiritual food and drink. But the disastrous result was that the great mass of the people were overthrown in the wilderness. And men have not yet outlived this same danger of committing themselves to a life they find too hard and full of risk. Conclusion: The practical outcome of all Paul utters in the haunting words, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." If determined wickedness has slain its thousands, heedlessness has slain its tens of thousands. Through lack of watchfulness men fall into sin which entangles them for life and thwarts their best purposes. Every man is apt to lay too much stress on the circumstance that he has joined himself to the number of those who own the leadership of Christ. The question remains, How far has he gone with his Leader? Whoever takes it for granted that things are well with him, whoever "thinketh he standeth" — he is the man who has especial and urgent need to "take heed lest he fall."

(M. Dods, D.D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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;

WEB: Now I would not have you ignorant, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

God's Displeasure
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