Israel: A Type of Salvation (Part 4)
We have been considering parallels between Israel of old and Christians today from I Corinthians 10:

After Israel had crossed the Red Sea, they began a new relationship with God. They stood as a liberated people under God's benevolence. God went before them in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. When they were thirsty, He provided them drink. When they complained of bitter water, He made it sweet. Every day God fed the vast multitude with manna from heaven, and when they murmured about that, God sent them quail for meat, until they were sick of it. I Corinthians 10:3,4 states that they all ate the same spiritual food and drink. Their food was spiritual in that it came from heaven. Note that God always provided for their food and their clothing didn't wear out. But, this time of wilderness wandering was not easy for Israel. They were sorely tried and tested during this time period.

Likewise, when we come into Christ by means of baptism, we too find ourselves in a new relationship. We too partake of spiritual food: Jesus is the bread from heaven and the water of life (cf. John 6:51; 4:10,14). All of our needs are met in Christ. But, just as important is the fact that we are no longer under our former master, sin. Paul discussed this very notion when he asked:

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of you as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore, we were buried with Him through baptism into death that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin" (Rom. 6:1-6).

This new relationship is life in Christ! II Corinthians 5:17 declares - "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new." What makes things different after being born into this kingdom, the Lord's church? Primarily, this new relationship is different in that it demands a closer walk with God. "If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:1-3).

The tone of I Corinthians 10 changes rather abruptly starting in verse 5 - "But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted" (I Cor. 10:5,6). Paul then continues by reciting Israel's great sins of idolatry, sexual immorality, and complaining.

The importance of the parallel here cannot be overstated. Even though God delivered them from Egypt by Moses's hand and although He sustained them in the wilderness, they were not allowed to enter the promised land, Canaan, because of sins! Their bodies were scattered; in other words, they died all over the wilderness. Over 40 men died per day (on average) for nearly 40 years! They could have made the trip to the promised land in less than a month, but because of sin it took 40 years to get there, and it cost the lives of every numbered soldier over the age of 20 except Joshua and Caleb.

What does this mean for the church? Simply this: Just because we've been freed from sin (saved) doesn't mean we can just sit in a pew and feel safe! Paul stressed in I Corinthians 10:2,5 that all were baptized into Moses, but most made God unhappy and most never saw their promised land. Sadly, I fear the same fate will befall many members of the church. Jesus talks about those who claim to be His servants--those who claim to do great things in His name--yet He does not know them. They will depart into everlasting destruction (cf. Matt. 7:21-23). Just like Israel, they will not see their promised land either. We can't just sit around and play like the Israelites! We've got to do what the Lord commands in order to please Him! If not, who is to say that we will see our promised land of heaven? Think about it. Only 2 of over 600,000 men made it! How many of those baptized into Christ will make it to the glory land? "Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matt. 7:14). The Israelites were saved to serve God, and so it is with Christians today. Many children of Israel fell into unbelief and disobedience, though they were without excuse. Christians who fall into unbelief and disobedience are also without excuse and will suffer God's wrath. We must walk in the light as He is in the light (cf. I John 1:7).

God has given us warnings; will we heed them? God does not want us to lose our inheritance. He wants us to pass into heaven after death, and not into hell, and so He gives us warnings like these. Israel is an example for us. We should learn from their mistakes and not commit them ourselves. We should not be complainers as they were. We should be overjoyed to be alive, to be in Christ, and to be free from sin. What more can one ask for? What more could one want? God warns us to not think too highly of ourselves. Anyone can fall. But, Paul reassures us that these temptations we go through are no worse than those that previous humans have successfully endured. This should be a comfort to us. If others can overcome with God's help, so can we! God is faithful and He will not allow us to be tempted beyond that which we can tolerate. This clearly shows His providence in our lives on a personal level. We can always escape temptation if we want to and if we search for the way of escape that God has provided. We must pray when temptation comes and strengthen our faith in the LORD. God has given us this promise that we may remain faithful to Him. If a man falls, God is not to blame! Man sins by satisfying his own lusts (cf. James 1:13,14). We also must realize that those temptations which cannot be fled from, must be endured. Often the only way of escape is through endurance.

Dear followers of Christ, let us heed the warning of God in I Corinthians 10. Israel's salvation is a type of our own. Live faithfully for the LORD that their condemnation may not become a type of your own!