When my family and I drive around the Great Lakes of the Midwestern U.S., we keep an eye for the picturesque lighthouses along the shores. These historic structures are not just for beauty, of course; they warn boats away from dangerous parts of the coastline.
God’s Word acts as a kind of lighthouse, warning us to avoid sinful traps and temptations. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul points to Israel’s history, warning not to set “our hearts on evil things as they did” (v. 6). These sins of idolatry, immorality, testing the Lord, and grumbling, “happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us” (v. 11; see also Rom. 15:4).
The people of Israel enjoyed God’s visible presence: ”under the cloud” refers to the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. They witnessed the ten plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, and the provision of water and manna. Spiritually, they had everything they needed. Yet an entire generation failed to enter the promised land and instead died in the wilderness.
Why? Israel chose sin instead of obedience (vv. 6–9). They committed idolatry, as in the golden calf episode (Ex. 32). They were guilty of sexual immorality (Numbers 25). They tested the Lord (Numbers 21). They complained against Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16). They were severely punished in each of these episodes, but they didn’t change their ways.
We should learn from their experience (vv. 11–13). We, too, might make sinful choices. Instead, we should resist temptation, relying on God’s faithfulness. “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear...he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
>> Do we take sin as seriously as God does? If it’s idolatry or immorality, probably yes. But what about grumbling or complaining? Let’s commit to not taking any sin lightly. Take time to confess your sins to God today.
Each generation has particular sins it denounces or tolerates. Please open our eyes to our own double standards so we may honor you in all areas, whether large or seemingly small.