If we were about to get a shot of good and bad news, what would be our preference – good news first, or bad? I am sure a large majority of us would want to get the bad news out of the way and then hear the good news to end the day on a good note.
Today, I have both bad news and good news for you. Going by the majority preference, I will begin with the bad news – we all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, and sin has its own consequences. All of us tend to do things our own way, instead of trusting and waiting patiently for God’s guidance, which leads us to sin. The Apostle Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 10:6-10, certain types of sin that take us away from God without us being aware of it, and which we have to be very careful about.
Verse 7: “Do not be idolaters, as some of them were, as it is written: The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry”.
The Israelites persuaded Aaron to make an idol for them to worship as they grew tired of waiting for Moses to return with the ten commandments from Mt. Sinai (Exodus 32). They chose their own way to worship, acting against the will of God, which caused them to sin.
Are we free from idolatry since we do not physically worship or bow down before idols? Well, the answer is a big NO. Anything, that replaces God in our hearts and minds, is an idol in itself. Have we set any idols in the form of education, family, job, children or anything else, which takes priority over God in our lives? If yes, then we have to repent and shift our focus onto our heavenly Father, and love and worship Him with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength.
Verse 8: “We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did- and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.”
The Israelites indulged in sexual immorality with Moabite women and they were eventually led to sacrifice to the Moabite god Baal Peor, which angered God and a plague broke out among them, killing 24,000. It was only when Phinehas (grandson of Aaron) killed an Israelite along with a Midianite woman (which is symbolic of atonement of sin with blood), God turned His anger away (Numbers 25:1-9).
In the olden times, people used all means to hide their sins. But now, we live in a world where people openly display their wickedness and are unashamed to flaunt their sins using any means, including the social media available at their fingertips. More and more countries are legalizing acts strictly forbidden by God as sexual immorality.
Nothing in the Scripture is written in vain, and it is our wisdom and duty to learn from it. Carnal desires gain strength by indulgence, and therefore, should be checked in their first rise. We should always remember that our body is the temple of God and we have a great responsibility to keep it pure and holy, so that it might be offered as a living sacrifice to the Lord.
Verse 9: “We should not test Christ, as some of them did-and were killed by snakes.”
The Israelites tested God by becoming impatient and speaking against God and Moses. As a result, God sent venomous snakes among them and many died. But when the Israelites repented, they were saved by looking at the brazen serpent that Moses had put up on the pole as commanded by God (Numbers 21: 4-7).
The looking at the brazen serpent, is a fit resemblance of believing in Christ who was crucified on the cross for our salvation. We are reminded not to grow impatient or dissatisfied with the promises of God. Remember delays are not denials, and if we wait patiently for His time, we will surely enjoy the blessings He has kept in store for us.
Verse 10: “And do not grumble, as some of them did – and were killed by the destroying angel.”
A plague broke out among the Israelites when they grumbled against Moses and Aaron and it stopped only when Aaron stood between the dead and the living and did sin atonement for them (Numbers 16). None of us can say that we haven’t grumbled in our lives. Grumbling comes from an ungrateful heart, and it shows lack of trust in the providence of Jehovah Jireh. Let us be wary of this sin in our lives which prevents the glory of God from being revealed in our lives.
Thus far, we were focusing on the bad news. Now here is the good news. We have a Savior who knows our weakness and can help and save us from sin and its consequences, if we yield to His will in our lives rather than going our own way.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Let us be submissively obedient to the will of our heavenly Father. The same thing which caused the Israelites to sin could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did. It’s easy to have things our way but difficult to surrender and have things His way. Let us practice obedience, following His lead, trusting that the results will be beyond our wildest dreams.