Trinity 9, 2019

The Epistle – 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

The Gospel – St. Luke 15:11-32

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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St. Paul in our Epistle section today…our pericope has in it Paul’s list of things that took place in the Old Testament…the Old Covenant with ancient Israel.

 

He says twice here this morning that “Now these things happened to them and were written down for us to be examples.”

 

These things that happened to them and have been written down and preserved for us for obviously good reasons.

 

He says, that they were written down so that we would not desire evil as they did and second they were written down for our instruction…which really means the same thing.

 

They were recorded for us to instruct us in how not to sin…to avoid evil. To know what is displeasing to God.  

And he is referring to his examples that he just listed.

 

Paul gives us a short history of the Israelites in just a few verses.

 

He writes, “1 Corinthians 10:1–5

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. (ESV)

 

St. Chrysostom even notes that these events prefigure to us both baptism and the Lord’s Supper…which we will get to here in due course.

 

But first since these events happened thousands of years ago…yet still worthy to be for our instruction we should recall what they were in particular…..since we too desire not to sin and disobey God.

 

We can include ourselves here when we hear “our fathers.”  Paul is referring to our ancestors in the faith…our ancestors as well.

Moses, Aaron, the people of the Exodus who came out of slavery in Egypt.

 

In the Children’s’ song Father Abraham, had many sons, ….we sing, “I am one of them, and so are you.”

 

Simplistic, but very true. As Christians we are children of Abraham, Moses, the people of God in the Old Testament.

 

The Church today is the true Israel.
The Israel in the past is…we could say, the early Church.
We are directly connected with them through faith in the saving God and His Son the Christ.

 

 

 

 

They looked forward to a coming Savior.

We look backwards to the same Savior who came and is yet still with us today as He was then, as the Holy Spirit makes Him present.

 

So, we could retranslate slightly and say, “our forefathers” were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea.

 

We should all recall this, as it is mentioned again and again in Christian teaching.

 

Exodus 13:21–22

 

[21] And the LORD went before [our forefathers] by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.

[22] The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before [our forefathers]. (ESV)

 

So, they were all under the cloud of God.

They all passed through the sea…

 

Recall this time from Exodus 14:21–22

 

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. [22] And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” (ESV)

 

 

 

Then Paul says this about passing through the Red Sea.  “…and [our forefathers] were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea…”(ESV)

 

So, the passing through the Red Sea is seen by Paul to be a sort of baptism. They didn’t get wet. We are told they passed through on dry ground. 

 

Nevertheless, as they passed through the walls of water on both sides, they were baptized into Moses…both in the pillar of cloud and in the sea.

 

Anglican priest and commentator, Leon Morris says of this, “It is startling for the Christian, who is ‘baptized into Christ’ (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27), to read of baptism into Moses. Probably we are to think of Moses as a type of Christ.

Just as baptism in one aspect brings people under the leadership of Christ, so participation in the great events of the Exodus brought the Israelites under the leadership of Moses.”[1]

 

So, our forefathers, the Israelites, all were led out of Egypt by Moses, a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night…and that was the presence of God.

 

They all passed through the Red Sea as a sort of baptism. Even being under the cloud and led by the cloud of God was a baptism of sorts.

 

 

 

 

Then Paul says, “…all [of our forefathers] 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.

 

This one, especially near the end of the sentence is a bit strange to our ears if we don’t understand what Paul means.

 

It is clear so far that he is telling us about the Exodus and the Crossing of the Red Sea.

 

But now, he says that all [of our forefathers] 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.

 

Remember this, Exodus 16:2–3

 

“And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, [3] and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (ESV)

 

So being quite ungrateful, they complain to Moses that it would have been better to have stayed enslaved back down in Egypt because there they at least ate a bit of food and had something to drink from time to time.

 

They are certainly showing that they do not at all trust in God or His servant Moses.

 

 

Here we are told what happened when the people did ask for food….or complained about not having any food. ….Exodus 16:13–14

 

“In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning, dew lay around the camp. [14] And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground.” (ESV)

 

At first the people do not know what it is.   Exodus 16:15

 

“When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat.’” (ESV)

 

This is the manna that God gave them to eat.

Psalm 78:24

 

            [24] “…and he rained down on them manna to eat

                        and gave them the grain of heaven.” (ESV)

 

Here is the account of the spiritual drink given to them…

 

Exodus 17:1–7

 

[1] All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin…and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. [2] Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

 

[4] So Moses cried to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” [5] And the LORD said to Moses, “Pass on before the people,…[and] there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” (ESV)

 

Paul is referring to Christ here in his letter this morning and “sees him as following the Israelites and continually giving them drink.

 

He transfers to Christ the title, ‘the Rock’, used of Yahweh (in the OT) …The reference to spiritual food and drink is surely made…the light of the Holy Communion. Israel had her equivalents of both sacraments.”[2]

 

With this list of events also comes something very important to the history of the Church both in the Old Testament and the New….but most significantly in the Old.

 

Augustine: “The history of the exodus was an allegory of the Christian people that was yet to be.” The Usefulness of Belief 8.[3]

 

Many of the Church Fathers wrote about this and Paul is certainly alluding to these events as spiritual, Christ being present and sacramental.

We have here in these events both baptism and the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion.

 

All were baptized in the cloud and in the sea.  There is the baptism…

All ate the manna as spiritual food.
All drank the water that God gave the people to drink through Moses.

 

Baptism, eating and drinking. The spiritual Rock that is Christ was present with them in the wilderness.   

 

And what else do we do as Christians? We baptize new converts and then eventually they eat and drink along with us the Holy Supper. …bread and wine.

 

Christ was there feeding them, then, as He comes even today to feed us this morning. …maybe even more intimately than our forefathers experienced.

 

 

 

They ate and drank and passed through the waters pre-figuring and representing and signifying what Christ would later come and do in person…deepening the reality.

 

He would institute the rite of baptism and then give us His Body and Blood to drink in Holy Communion.

 

Theodore of Mopsuestia: “The sea is a figure of baptism with water; the cloud of the grace of baptism in the Spirit.” Pauline Commentary from the Greek Church.[4]

 

Scott - “They had received a type of Holy Communion in the bread that came down from heaven, and the water which flowed from the smitten rock, which rock was a type of the smitten and bruised Christ.”[5]

And finally, Paul says about this whole set of events and the people of Israel…. “Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” (ESV)

 

Scott - “It is often said that they trusted too much in these outward privileges. The very opposite was the case; ‘they despised the pleasant land,’ ‘they forgot God their Savior,’ ‘they murmured in their tents,’ ‘they were mingled among the heathen and learned their works.’ (Ps. 106.) It was because they undervalued their covenant position that they lusted after evil, worshipped - as they fancied - more powerful gods, committed fornication, murmured, and provoked the Lord.”[6]

 

 

Our prayer is this morning, “GRANT to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as are right; that we, who cannot do anything that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Amen.

 

That is our prayer this day and all of this week. To think and do always as is right is to pay attention to our forefathers, who stumbled many times in the past.

 

They are our examples. Just as we have great and famous people today that we admire and may even be examples to us, our greatest examples should be those who came before us….

 

….the people of God, who were the seed and beginning of the Church.

We are no better than them.
We are no less sinful.

We are no smarter.

We are no less inclined to evil, passions for idolatry, money, sex, power, fame.

 

These forefathers of ours all had the same hearts as we do. And we can see how God felt about their sin and how He dealt with it.

 

We have this great history not just to have fun tracing our DNA or searching out our heritage or our lineage, but as an example of what to do and what not to do.

 

As an example of how God persevered in loving them and correcting them when necessary.

 

They lived to be an example for us.

We live as an example to the next generation of people who will come along after us.

 

Our conduct toward God and toward one another matters greatly, for God desires that in every age those who belong to Him be an example for the next.

 

But it always comes back to what is mentioned in the second half of that prayer. “we cannot do anything good without God.”

 

If we are to glean anything from the example of the ancient Israelites and then be an example for others, we must be calling on God regularly in prayer for that grace.

 

We cannot do anything good without God, from whom comes all holy desires, good counsels and just works. He is the source of and fountain of all that is good.

May we be endued with the grace of the Holy Spirit to be enabled to live according to His will….drawing on the examples of those who came before us, and walking in the same faith in God the Savior as they did.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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[1] Morris, L. (1985). 1 Corinthians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 7, p. 139). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[2] Morris, L. (1985). 1 Corinthians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 7, p. 140). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[3] Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 91). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[4] Bray, G. L. (Ed.). (1999). 1–2 Corinthians (p. 91). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[5] Excerpt From: Melville Scott. “The Harmony of the Collects, Epistles, and Gospels.” Apple Books.

 

[6] Excerpt From: Melville Scott. “The Harmony of the Collects, Epistles, and Gospels.” Apple Books.