Friday, 3 October 2014
…nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; 1 Corinthians 10:9
The words in this verse continue to refer the wilderness wanderings of the Old Testament between the exodus and the arrival of the Israelites in Canaan. During that time, this is recorded in Numbers 21 –
“Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes this worthless bread.” 6 So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.” Numbers 21:4-6
God had time and again provided for the people and demonstrated His care of them. He had sent the Angel of the Lord before them to lead the way and to ensure their care. However, the people “spoke against God and against Moses.” In this they were showing a willful disregard of God’s care for them. Paul’s words though tie this account to Christ. “Nor let us tempt Christ.” It is another implicit reference to the deity of Jesus. His presence was there with Israel in the wilderness. If this was Jehovah, and yet Paul now identifies Him as Christ, then the connection is obvious – Jesus is Jehovah incarnate.
Paul uses two different words for “tempt” here, the first being ekpeirazōmen. It is an important compound which means “to tempt out.” In other words, “to try to the utmost.” It is used only three other times in the Bible – in Matthew 4:7, Luke 4:12, and Luke 10:25. Each of these was a tempting related to Christ, twice it is quoted by Jesus during Satan’s tempting of Him and once by a lawyer of the law.
To “tempt” when applied to man involves inducing him to sin. When it is applied to God, it carries a different signification, that of trying his patience and provoking Him to anger. This is what is being conveyed here by Paul. The people tried the Angel of the Lord’s (Christ’s) patience and suffered the consequences of their attitudes. We are instructed to not so tempt the Lord’s patience now. He is the same Lord, eternal and unchanging. Our rebellion can only be met with His hand of discipline.
Life application: The warnings of the New Testament aren’t given for us to ignore. How often do we hear Christian friends around us complain about how their life is going and yet we see that they have not been faithfully following the Lord. Should discipline be unexpected in such a case? Of course not. Our acts of disobedience will suffer consequences. Let us learn from those times and resolve in our hearts to be obedient to the word God.
Lord, how often trials come my way. When they do, I wonder “Why is this happening to me.” And then I hear a preacher instructing me from Your word and showing me that the wounds were actually self-inflicted. In my failure to adhere to Your word, I walked down my own path of disobedience and right into Your needed correction. When I think it’s Your lack of care for me, I find it’s actually my lack of attention to Your word. Help me in this Lord. Give me wisdom to stick to Your wonderful blueprint for my life. I know that things will go so much better when I do. Amen.