Thursday, 16 October 2014
Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He? 1 Corinthians 10:22
As noted in the previous verse, we were told that we “cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons” and that we “cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.” In follow up to those words of instruction, Paul’s question is, “Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?” In other words, by doing this thing which is morally wrong, we will with all certainty provoke the Lord to jealousy. It is the obvious result of participating in idolatry. In the giving of the 10 Commandments, the people of Israel were told explicitly that the Lord is a jealous God. This is stated in the giving of the fourth commandment –
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; 5 you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” Exodus 20:4, 5
Likewise, a few chapters later in Exodus, the Lord expresses His name as “Jealous.” It is the strongest tie possible to the nature of Himself in relation to His redeemed people –
“…for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” Exodus 34:14
And in a thought directly from the Song of Moses, we see how idolatry is exactly what provoked the Lord to jealousy after they were redeemed from the land of Egypt. It was a constant source of irritation to Him as He led them through the wilderness –
“They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols.” Deuteronomy 32:21
These words of instruction, as well as the words of chastisement, were given to the people in order to get them to wake up to the holiness of the Lord and their need to cling to Him alone, forsaking all other “gods” which are not gods at all. Though the Law of Moses is now obsolete in Christ and is set aside by His work, we are dealing with the same holy Lord. His nature does not change and our relationship to Him in this regard also does not change. This is the intent of Paul’s words which ask, “Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy?”
And in order to solidify that, he finishes this verse with the question, “Are we stronger than He?” Vincent’s word studies notes that, “The force of the interrogative particle is, surely we are not stronger.” In other words, it is an exclamation even though it is put in the form of a question. “We (definitely) are not stronger than He!” He judged His redeemed people Israel and we can expect the exact same Judge’s hand when we fall into idolatry. Let us heed this warning.
Life application: In Christ, we have a new relationship which goes far beyond that of ancient Israel. We have a salvation which can never be lost and which unites us to Him so that we are one body. Because of this, we might feel that we are safe from judgment. This is not the case. Later in 2 Corinthians, Paul will speak of the time when we stand before Christ in order to receive our judgment. When that time comes, let us be found approved and not lose the wondrous heavenly rewards that would otherwise be granted to us. Our salvation is secure, but our rewards and losses are being earned through our present walk with Christ.
O Lord – how often do I wake up and find that my strength for the day ahead is lacking. And it’s not just physical strength, but sometimes it’s my emotions or my internal motivation to meet the unfriendly prospects of relationships, job problems, or even some minor responsibility that I feel pressured by. And yet, as soon as I start reading Your word and thinking about Your strong hand of guidance that is with me, I begin to forget my troubles. Because You are with me, what can man do to me? I have all the strength I need and it comes from You. Thank You for this knowledge each day as I rise. Thank You. Amen.