Lessons from Israel’s Idolatry
10 I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. 2 In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. 3 All of them ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, 7 or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.” 8 And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day.
9 Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. 10 And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. 11 These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.
12 If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
14 So, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. 15 You are reasonable people. Decide for yourselves if what I am saying is true. 16 When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? 17 And though we are many, we all eat from one loaf of bread, showing that we are one body. 18 Think about the people of Israel. Weren’t they united by eating the sacrifices at the altar?
19 What am I trying to say? Am I saying that food offered to idols has some significance, or that idols are real gods? 20 No, not at all. I am saying that these sacrifices are offered to demons, not to God. And I don’t want you to participate with demons. 21 You cannot drink from the cup of the Lord and from the cup of demons, too. You cannot eat at the Lord’s Table and at the table of demons, too. 22 What? Do we dare to rouse the Lord’s jealousy? Do you think we are stronger than he is?
23 You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial. 24 Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.
25 So you may eat any meat that is sold in the marketplace without raising questions of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
27 If someone who isn’t a believer asks you home for dinner, accept the invitation if you want to. Eat whatever is offered to you without raising questions of conscience. 28 (But suppose someone tells you, “This meat was offered to an idol.” Don’t eat it, out of consideration for the conscience of the one who told you. 29 It might not be a matter of conscience for you, but it is for the other person.) For why should my freedom be limited by what someone else thinks? 30 If I can thank God for the food and enjoy it, why should I be condemned for eating it?
31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Don’t give offense to Jews or Gentiles or the church of God. 33 I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.
Let’s focus on vs 13 today “13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.
This verse is very encouraging, and there are 3 things we can learn from this about temptation:
First, they are common to all. I do not know anything that is harder to believe, when we are being tempted, than that. We all think,
Why isn’t this happening to others? They deserve it so much more than me. Why is it happening to me? Well, maybe it is just your turn, that is all. Everybody goes through it. You do not see what others go through most of the time, but no one is left out. Trials are common to all. Their time is coming, if it has not already, so do not ever allow yourself to think that what is happening to you is unique. It is not at all. It is very common, and if you ask around, you will find others that have gone through it too.
Second, though they are common trials, they are also controlled — God is faithful, He will not allow you to be tempted above your strength. Again, that is hard to believe. We say, “
Well, it has already happened. I am already beyond my strength” No, you are not. You just think you are. God knows your strength greater than you do. He knows how much you can handle, and how much you cannot. He puts the pressure on, but it is controlled pressure. It will never be more than you can handle as long as you understand the third thing.
The third thing is the conquering grace that he provides,
the way out that is always present, never failing. What is that way of escape? It is dependence on Him. Discipline is necessary, but so is dependence. All through the Old Testament we see examples of this where God strips away all human support so that we may learn that He is enough.
God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble (Ps.46:1), and we will never discover that until everything else has been taken away. Then we begin to discover that God can hold us steady. He himself is the way of escape, and that is why he puts us through pressures and testings.
A lot of people think they are special as far as temptation is concerned. Some think they alone are singled out while others are left alone. Other people are too embarrassed to share their vulnerability or problems. They might doubt if their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ have similar bad thoughts or continue to struggle with the lure of sinfulness. It leaves them feeling alone, isolated and uncertain of their own salvation. Temptation can to that to us — make us feel dirty and unworthy. However, we might all be surprised — even shocked — to find out what tempts the people around us. But temptation, by itself, is not sin. Even Jesus was tempted. Hebrews 2:18: “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
Today we need to remember the incredible promises in this verse. Are we facing a temptation or trial in our lives? Are we feeling like we are at our wits end? Remember what Paul says in these verses. God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear. God will give us the strength, we just need to submit and allow ourselves to place our trust and dependence on Him today.
Thank you Lord for your promises. Thank you that you will always be there for me in my time of trial. Thank you for the strength you will give me and the way out you provide. In the name of Jesus, amen.