Learn by Example

1 Corinthians 10:6-13
6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

In his old age, King Solomon penned these words we find in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “...there is nothing new under the sun.”  Paul now uses “the sins of the past” as described in Exodus and Numbers to make comparisons to the lives of those living in Corinth. He wants to warn them about living as their ancestors lived, which resulted in their bodies being scattered across the desert.

A knowledge of the Children of Israel and their 40 years spent wandering in the desert is helpful here.  They had been rescued from slavery and all of their needs were being met as they learned about God and His love and provision for them. Instead of worship and gratitude, God received complaint, rebellion, and their idol worship. As a result, the trip from Egypt to Israel lasted 40 years rather than a few months. The Corinthians are expressing similar tendencies and God will not accept that from them any more than He did from the ancient Israelites. Paul’s message is “learn from the past.”

While experience is indeed a fantastic teacher, we don’t always have to rely on experience alone to bring us a deeper understanding of how God would have us live. That is one of major reasons why we study the Bible. We can take our cues from believers of the past. Their experiences can inform our own lives. There are two kinds of struggles in our lives: those that happen because sin resides in the world (natural disasters, sudden illness . . . ) and those we create for ourselves. The second source of our struggles can be mitigated should we choose to live wisely, in the manner set forth by God.