1: “Remember our history, friends, and be warned.” – Paul outlines that we are to remember the lessons of the Israelites in order to avoid making the same mistakes that they made.
2: “They went through the waters, in a baptism like ours, as Moses led them from enslaving death to salvation life.” – The Promised Land that Christ has to offer is available through our own baptism.
5: “But just experiencing God’s wonder and grace didn’t seem to mean much – most of them were defeated by temptation during the hard times in the desert, and God was not pleased.” – Life in the wilderness is a time for testing. How will we respond to difficult challenges and temptations?
6: “The same thing could happen to us. We must be on guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way as they did.” – Their failure should be a lesson that leads us to success.
7-10: “And we must not turn our religion into a circus as they did…” – Paul begins listing examples of their failures.
11: “These are all warning markers – DANGER! – in our history books, written down so that we don’t repeat their mistakes… we are just as capable of messing it up as they were.” – The stories in the Old Testament are more than interesting fables of an age long passed.
12: “Don’t be so naïve and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else.” – We tend to laugh at the Israelite’s consistent failure to recognize the benefits of a holy life, yet we are just as prone to stray as they.
13: “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down…” – You are not alone in your temptations.
Points to Contemplate:
Do you remember your history?
Do you see that there are concrete lessons to learn from the past? Do you strive to personalize the lessons of the Israelites in order to avoid making the same mistakes? If every generation were to learn the lessons of the past, shouldn’t we be growing closer to God? Would we have fewer instances of backsliding and repetitive errors? Why don’t we ever seem to learn?
Do you want things your own way? Is this the main lesson to be learned from the Israelites? Do you see that whenever they began seeking their own path they fell from God’s favor? Isn’t that the same with Adam and Eve? Do you see how focusing on selfish pursuits is the basic tenet of “The Fall?” Can you learn from these mistakes, set your self aside, and follow Christ?
Are you naïve? Self-confident? Do you have it all figured out? Do you feel you have your desires and temptations in check? Are you in control of your life? Are you ready for what ever comes your way? Are you watching for the warning signs? (acts of self-righteousness, giving in to grievous desires, and self-serving tendencies) Is danger ahead? Are you about to fall?
Are you being tested? Will God lead you into the wilderness? Will He temper your faith through the fires of temptation, pain, and suffering? Will He give you reasons to lose faith? Why? Is it to prove that He will never let you down? Is it to demonstrate how much He loves you? Is it to make you stronger for things to come? Promises of the Gospel:
Paul is warning us to be careful. Our self-confidence is setting us up for failure. If the lessons of the Israelites are forgotten we may end up making the same mistakes. The stories of the past clearly show what happens when people choose to put themselves before God. Selfishness creates separation from God. Failure results. People die. Time in the wilderness is extended. Though the Israelites seem never to fully understand, through their lives we can see that God is faithful. He might choose to test our faith but He will not send anything our way that, with His help, we will not be able to overcome. Paul calls us to remember our history, learn from the lessons of others, stand firm in the face of temptation, and turn to God for all things.