Third Sunday in Lent – Epistle

by Crossings

Worship Wars
Third Sunday in Lent
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Analysis by Robin Morgan

1I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness. 6Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 7Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.” 8We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.


DIAGNOSIS: Worshipping God in all the Wrong Places

Step 1: Initial Diagnosis (External Problem) – Go for the Gold
Here in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul disregards his own advice from Philippians 4 (to think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable), and reminds us, instead, of one of Israel’s worst moments: the golden calf at the foot of Mt. Sinai (Exodus 32). He brings it up, not to malign his ancestors, but to warn the Corinthians and us that temptation is temptation – and none of us is immune. While Moses was up on the mountain with God, Aaron and the Israelites made a golden calf to worship. With that calf they also revised their history: “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” they said (Exodus 32:4). After this, Paul reminds us, they went about their newly established worship: They offered burnt offerings to the golden image, brought sacrifices of well-being, sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play (v. 7).

Step 2: Advanced Diagnosis (Internal Problem) – It’s Now or Never
As far as Israel was concerned, Moses was taking too long on Mt. Sinai. Here they stood at the foot of God’s mountain ready to worship, but their leader was nowhere to be found. They were a worshipping people–everybody knew that–and they needed someone/something to worship. They were intent on being gratified, intent on fulfilling their desire to worship, even if it meant not waiting for Moses to return. But their desire was evil. Paul says plainly, they were idolaters (v. 7).

Step 3: Final Diagnosis (Eternal Problem) – Melt Down
God has little time for such disregard of God’s explicit commands. Celebrating evil actions and desires, reveling in idolatry, will not last forever. Finally, Paul tells us, they were destroyed by the destroyer (v. 10).

PROGNOSIS: Rock-Solid Worship

Step 4: Initial Prognosis (Eternal Solution) – Through the Refiner’s Fire
But while Israel and we are tempted–and actually try –to lean on things that cannot support us (golden calves or other such things), God offers us something solid, something truly worthy of our worship: That something is the Rock that came after Israel and that is in our midst: Jesus Christ (v. 4). He is the One who allowed himself to be hung on the cross, melted down on our behalf, because of our evil desires (our disregard of God’s commands and our idolatrous worship). And his open tomb reveals a new reality that is more precious than all the gold in Israel or the world–Jesus Christ, risen to new life!

Step 5: Advanced Prognosis (Internal Solution) – The Will to Faithfulness
Jesus is the sure foundation. He is the rock of our salvation who gives us the will to turn away from idols and toward God who is faithful. In faith, we turn to God, who will not allow us to be tested beyond our strength, but who through the testing will also provide the way out so that we may be able to endure it (v. 13).

Step 6: Final Prognosis (External Solution) – “I have no silver and gold, but what I have I give you”
We eat the spiritual food, we drink the spiritual drink (vv. 3-4), in the body and blood of our Lord. We are strengthened to live for God in the midst of a world that tempts us to turn away from the One who gave us life–who brought us (like Israel) out of bondage into freedom. Because of him, we can exercise self-control (see vv. 7 & 8) and stand fast in faith (see v. 12), proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, and sharing in his blessings.

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  • Crossings

    Crossings is a community of welcoming, inquisitive people who want to explore how what we hear at church is useful and beneficial in our daily lives.

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