Thursday, 2 October 2014
We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 1 Corinthians 10:8
Paul is quite clear here, as he is throughout his writings, that sexual immorality is unacceptable. And this isn’t just Paul, but it is a precept which permeates Scripture, even to the very last page of the Bible. Revelation 22:15 says that the sexually immoral will be excluded from entrance into the gates of the New Jerusalem. There, they are lumped together with dogs (those who are unclean and who would go after their own vomit), people who practice magic arts, murderers, idolaters, and those who love and practice falsehood.
In other words, sexual immorality is not an acceptable part of a Christian’s walk. In today’s world, this seems almost foreign to us. Even churches allow the most sexually depraved of people to participate in their services and excuse it by saying that God would “want them to be happy.” Happiness is irrelevant. What matters is obedience to the Lord. As an example of this, Paul goes back to the account of the Baal of Peor in Numbers 25:1-9. There it says “the Lord’s anger burned against them.”
It was an incident they were reminded of later in Numbers and then in Deuteronomy before entering Canaan. They will continue to be reminded of it in the books of Joshua, the Psalms, and Hosea. Likewise, Paul reaches back to it to show the severity of the judgment for what occurred. He says that “in one day twenty-tree thousand of them died.” It was a huge price to pay for the faithless actions of the people.
As a note concerning this, Numbers 25:9 places the number at 24,000 instead of 23,000. There have been several suggestions as to how the numbers can be reconciled. It is possible that 23,000 were killed by the plague which resulted, and the other 1000 were killed by those who defended the Lord’s honor by using the sword against their own countrymen. Another view is that the number could have been a round number. If it were 23,600, then it could be rounded up or down. Another explanation is that 23,000 fell “in one day” as Paul says and the other 1000 died the next day.
The most probable is that Paul was referring to those killed by the plague only and not those killed by the sword, thus showing the severity of the Lord’s judgment. If this is the case, then it was a tradition handed down in the society and not something specifically recorded in Scripture. The main issue though is in regards to sexual immorality. It is considered unacceptable and the Lord will judge those who violate this precept.
Life application: The Lord intends for those who engage in sex to be married – a male to a female. Any other sexual contact is considered immoral.
Lord, You have granted to man that He can take a wife
Someone to share their walk together all of their days
You would have them to remain together till the end of life
Living in holiness and bringing You honor and praise
Help us in our weakness to be stout and strong
To be faithful to one another as the years go past
Yes Lord, help us in this all our life long
To be obedient to You until You call us home at last
Heavenly Father, I know that Your word is clear on the issue of sex. It is intended for the state of marriage and it is to be between a man and his wife. Your word shows that any other sexual contact is considered immoral and that You will judge the sexually immoral. This may not be popular, but I didn’t write Your word and so I will proclaim this truth because You have ordained it. And Lord, help me in my weakness to be pure in this regard. The world is filled with temptation and so I ask for strength, wisdom, and fortitude concerning this issue. Amen.