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Pride Goes Before a Fall – 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

May 10, 2020

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The Apostle Paul wrote a great truth to the Corinthians, and us, based on ancient Israel's history.

In so doing, he teaches that we are no different than the Hebrews in our pride, arrogance and ultimately disobedience before God.

His clear "warning:"

 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

(1 Cor. 10:12)

This truth applies to all people, but more pointedly to "the chosen people," Israel and the Church, both in Corinth and us today.

But the apostle adds to this warning that there is no need for such failure.

Because the very temptations that befall man are under divine control:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common

to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.

(1 Cor. 10:13a)

And God makes a way for us to flee, and not fall to them, but endure.

 But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

(1 Cor. 10:13b)

So, let us take heed to God's warning, live for Him in obedience and be well pleasing to Him.


Verse 1

          "...our ancestors..."

              * In the early church, most believers were of Jewish ancestry, even in Gentile Corinth. (Acts 18:4-5, 8)

          "...under the cloud..."

               * The Israelites were led by a cloud during the day, and a pillar of fire by night. (Ex. 13:21-22)

               * Symbolizing the presence of God.

           "...through the sea..."

               * When the Egyptians had the Israelites pinned against the sea for destruction, God "drove the sea back"                          and they went "through the sea," "on dry ground." (Ex. 14:21-22, 29)

              * And drowned the Egyptian army in the sea as they pursued the Israelites. (Ex. 14:23-28)

              * Symbolizing God's protection.

By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians

tried to do so, they were drowned.

(Heb. 11:29)

Verse 2

          "...they were all baptized into Moses..."

              * "Baptized" - Identified with Moses.  Baptizo (Gk.) - means to "identify." When we are baptized today, we                          "identify" with Christ and proclaim Him Lord.

Verse 3

          "...spiritual food..."

              * Manna from heaven. (Ex. 16:4-5, 15, 35)

              * Symbolizing God's provision.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people

are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see

whether they will follow My instructions.

(Ex. 16:4)

“Give us today our daily bread.”

(Matt. 6:11)

              * And ultimate provision, the coming Christ, and His purpose, “the Bread of Life.”

John 6:31-35, 38-40, 47-51

 Verse 4

          "...spiritual drink..."

               * When the Israelites "quarreled" and "tested" the Lord, He provided water from the rock at Horeb.

                  (Ex. 17:1-7)

          "...that rock was Christ..."

              * Paul is saying "Christ" is God when put in context with verse 5.

              * Christ is the spiritual "Rock." (Matt. 7:24, 16:18)

              * Christ is the spiritual "Drink." (Jn. 4:10, 13)

On the last and greatest day of the festival,

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink."

(Jn. 7:37)

So, the Israelites had every spiritual blessing, as well as physical provision and blessing and yet they failed before God.

Sound familiar?

Verse 5

          "Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them..."

              * The understatement of all times!

              * Only two of the generation that God freed from Egypt made it to the Promised Land - Joshua and Caleb.                     (Num. 14:30, 38)

         "...their bodies were scattered in the wilderness."

              * For simple disobedience. (Num. 13, 14)

Numbers 14:26-35

Sin and disobedience lead to suffering and death.


Verse 6

           "...evil things..."

               * Are food and drink evil?  No, unless you place them above God's will for you. (ie: idolatry)

Verse 7

          "Do not be idolaters..."

              * Paul uses the example of the "golden calf" that the people worshipped at Mt. Sinai.

He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf,

fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought

you up out of Egypt.”

(Ex. 32:4)

So, Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have

committed! They have made themselves gods of gold.

(Ex. 32:31)

And the Lord struck the people with a plague because of what they did

with the calf Aaron had made.

(Ex. 32:35)

Verse 8

          "...sexual immorality..."

              *An abomination before God leading to judgment. (Rev. 2:14)

          "...twenty-three thousand died."

Numbers 25:1-9

 Verse 9

          "We should not test Christ..."

                * Again, Paul establishes Christ is God.

          "...and were killed by snakes..."

               * The people, again, complained about God and His provision, and He sent snakes to bite and poison                              them.   (Num. 21:4-8)

               * But, again, this is a picture of Christ.

"Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted

up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him.”

(Jn. 3:14-15)

Verse 10

           "...do not grumble..."

               * Grumbling can become a way of life - leading to death.


A way of life:

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said

to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of

meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve

this entire assembly to death.”

(Ex. 16:2-3)

 Leading to death:

 So, the men Moses had sent to explore the land, who returned and made the whole community grumble against him by spreading a bad report about it—these men who were responsible for spreading the bad report about the land were struck down and died

of a plague before the Lord.  Of the men who went to explore the land, only Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh survived.

(Num. 14:36-38)

          "The destroying angel...'

              * Same angel as in the first "Passover." (Ex. 12:23)

Verse 11

           "...written down as warnings for us..."

               * The Israelites, the Corinthians and, ultimately, us today.

But will we ever learn?

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the

endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

(Rom. 15:4) 

Verse 12

          "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!

               * Israel had every blessing, saw multiple miracles, God Himself covered them with a cloud by day, led                              them by fire at night.

               * And still they grumbled, stumbled and fell.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

(Prov. 16:18)

Are we any different?

Anyone, including mature Christians, can still fall.  And our fall is further to the bottom and more painful.

Verse 13

          "...temptation...is common to mankind..."

              * "Temptation" is Satan's greatest tool.

              * He understands our worldly desires.

For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of

life—comes not from the Father but from the world.

(1 Jn. 2:16)

             * And how to play us:

When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by

evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away

by their own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and

sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

(Jms. 1:13-15)


         "...God is faithful..."

             * He is faithful when we are faithless. (1 Cor. 1:9)

          "...He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear."

              *Remember, it's Satan who tempts us - tempts us to fail.

              * God tests us to prove us, to grow us. (Ps. 125:3)

         "...He will also provide a way out so you can endure it."

              * Sometimes when tested, we need to stand strong when tempted. (1 Pet. 5:8-9)

              * Sometimes we must flee temptation. (Gen 39:6-12)


There is a great lesson to be learned from this passage:

     1.  When an Israelite, a member of God's chosen people fell into sin, the fall was great because of his "chosen"                status and blessings.

          When the nation of Israel fell into sin, they suffered God's judgment as a nation again because of their status            as God's people and their blessings.

          The journey from Egypt to Canaan ("The Promised Land") should have taken 11 days, not 40 years.

          They had to wander in the wilderness until the whole disobedient generation perished.                                                    (Num. 14:21-23, 26-35)

     2. As blessed as ancient Israel was, are we not more?



        How great will our fall into God's judgment be?

"Privilege is no assurance against ultimate failure."

                                                         J. Vernon Magee


"If God fails to judge America, He will have to

apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah."

                                                          Billy Graham

I don't see God having to apologize to anybody or anything.

Do You?

Take heed lest ye fall America,

pride goest before the fall!

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