1Co 10:6-9 “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.”
Paul has just told the brethren about the journeying of the fathers in the wilderness. He reminded them (and us) that they all ate the same spiritual meat. They all drank the same spiritual water from the Rock, which was Christ. Yet, because they did not believe God in all things, many of them died in the wilderness having never received the promise of a land flowing with milk and honey.
All these things were left for us as examples or models of how we should not behave before our God. It was not just the physical doing of these things that was a problem. The lesson (intent) we should learn is, before God, to lust after evil (worthless) things is evidence of sin even when those things are not acted on. Jesus taught the same principle in the New Testament when He declared to the self-righteous that were boasting of having never committed adultery that if they had lusted after a woman in their heart then they had committed adultery with her already (Mat 5:28).
However, it does not follow that if we think a thing, we might as well act on it. We should not lust after worthless things, and neither should we become idolaters (which is often the outcome of acting on our lust). It was the lust (craving, desire) of many that came through the Red Sea with Moses to make themselves a god to worship. After all, they had not seen Moses for over a month: who knew if he was even coming back? They tried to hide their lust by calling themselves making a feast unto the Lord (Exo 32:5).
Our true intentions are always known to God. No matter what type of reasoning we may use in our own minds, God always knows the intent of the heart. The true reason for their feasting was soon made know, because as soon as they had feasted they rose up to play. Any thought of worship was far from them. We go to God’s house to worship and praise Him. To come for any other reason is playing, no matter what title we might give our actions.
Lust will lead us to take unto ourselves that which the Lord has clearly forbidden. This people who had seen the hand of God’s deliverance and judgment committed fornication (figurative of idolatry – see Strong’s) with the daughters of Moab. The Moabites were the descendants of Lot and one of his daughters after Lot’s wife was turned to a pillar of salt. As a result of this great disobedience, the Lord sent a plague among the people of Israel that left twenty-three thousand dead before an act of contrition turned aside the Lord’s wrath.
Again, we see that even though the man Jesus had not yet been born, the Lord’s Christ was still in evidence in the Old Testament times. The Word, which became flesh was in the beginning with God and He was God and without Him was not anything made that was made (read the gospel according to John, chapter one). The people came to a time when they despised the manna of God that fed them (Num 21:5). They spoke against God and against Moses (God’s mediator under the law covenant).
In a similar fashion, the brethren at Corinth were speaking against God and the power of Christ. Rather than giving Him all the glory, some laid claim to men (1Co 1:12). Instead of fleeing fornication (or idolatry) they gloried in it (1Co 5:1-2). Even if it destroyed weaker brethren, they were so puffed up in their knowledge as to consume meat offered to idols (1Co 8:1-11). Paul’s message is clear: God is the same today as He was yesterday and will be tomorrow. We cannot defy God (regardless of our logic), attempt to give His glory to others, and tempt our Lord Jesus Christ and then suppose that God is just going to ignore these things.
May we never suppose that God’s love for us has exempted us from the examples He has left for us in His word!