by Allan Knapp
1 Corinthians 10:1–13
 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,  and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,  and all ate the same spiritual food,  and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.  Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.  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.”  We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day.  We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,  nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer.  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.  Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.  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.
Remember that Paul, Peter, John, and the rest of the Apostles used the scriptures of the Old Testament in their logic and proclamations that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ prophesied for centuries past. In this passage from 1 Corinthians, Paul notes the blessings provided to the Israelites – miracles, manna, and the Spiritual Rock of Christ (Exodus 17:1-7). He also stresses that the sinful actions of the Israelites are “examples” for us to avoid. And there are many such examples in the Old Testament! Even back before Noah, “The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).
Look at the cautions to the Corinthians: Golden Calf idol worship (Exodus 32:1-6); Baal idol worship (Number 25:1-9); grumbling against God’s plan (Number 21:4-9 and Numbers 14:1-38). The quick judgments on these acts of disobedience were just the beginning of God’s encouragements to obey, followed by the judges, kings, and prophets. The consistent message was to worship only the LORD and follow His commandments. Over and over the Israelites rebelled, but a merciful God intervened on their behalf.
Like the Israelites, we sin, we fail, we are prone to wander. But look at the last verse of the passage above. If we are alert to His working, there is always a potential way of escape when we are tempted. And our faithful God promises to intervene for us in so many additional ways. We know that the Holy Spirit makes our prayers better (Romans 8:26). Christ himself intercedes for us (Romans 8:34). God works all things together for our good (Romans 8:28). God readily forgives our sins when we confess (1 John 1:9).
The examples in the Old Testament are indeed a litany of sins to avoid. But the rest of the story is the clear evidence that the steadfast love of the LORD endures forever. And the greatest example of that steadfast love is the risen savior, Jesus, who gave himself to make us whole.