The Fellowship of the Suffering & of the Tempted

Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters ten through thirteen of this New Testament book. “Moreover, brethren, I would not that yet should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 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. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. NOW ALL THESE THINGS HAPPENED UNTO THEM FOR ENSAMPLES: AND THEY ARE WRITTN FOR OUR ADMONITION, UPON WHOM THE ENDS OF THE WORLD ARE COME. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men: judge ye what I say” (1 Corinthians 10:1-15).

            “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of Go: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:13-15).

            “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the price of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 John 2:15-19).

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will encounter and come to one of the most important passages concerning Israel in all of the New Testament. Upon writing unto the saints which were at Rome the apostle Paul sought to demonstrate the sovereignty of the eternal God in His election toward the nation and people of Israel. If you take the time to read the ninth, tenth and eleventh chapters of the epistle of Romans you will find the apostle Paul emphatically declaring how the LORD God had not cast off, nor had He cast aside the nation and people of Israel. There were those present during those days, and there are those present during our days who have somehow thought that the LORD had cast off and cast away His people that He might make room for the Gentiles. There were those who thought that because salvation had come unto the Gentiles, and because the promise of the Father, and because the gospel concerning Jesus the Christ had come unto the Gentiles that the LORD had somehow forsaken and abandoned His people. That which the apostle seeks to demonstrate and prove with these three chapters in the New Testament epistle written unto the Romans is a powerful declaration that the living and eternal God had not cast off, nor had He forsaken His people. Instead, the LORD has allowed the Gentiles a certain space and a certain time in the earth until that appointed time when the LORD Himself will once more redeem and ransom His nation and people Israel unto and for Himself. It is with this we must needs understand that if the LORD had in fact cut off His people He would not have allowed them to be reborn twice within and throughout history.

            If you take the time to read and study the history of the nation and people of Israel you will find and encounter the tremendous reality that this nation was the only nation to be scattered from the midst of the land—not once but twice—and not only were they scattered from the midst of the land which was sworn unto their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but they were also brought back into and unto the land on both occasions. In biblical history you will notice the nation and people of Israel were brought forth out of the land of Israel by the Chaldeans and were carried away captive unto the land of the Chaldeans where they would remain exiles and captives for a period of seventy years. It would be through the prophet Jeremiah, however, that the LORD would not only declare once, but would also declare twice that the people of Israel—both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah—would be once more brought back into and restored unto the land. During the reign of Cyrus who issued the decree that would allow the people of Israel to return unto their land and build the Temple before and unto the LORD the children of Israel would make the journey back unto the land. It would be after and according to the decree of Cyrus permitting the people of Israel to return back and unto their land that the people would once more be restored unto the land. It would be during the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, as well as during the days of Zechariah and Haggai that the children of Israel would be reborn once more as a nation and people after being born as a nation centuries earlier. It would be after those seventy years of captivity and exile in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans the children of Israel would experience their first rebirth as the LORD would bring them unto their land. Oh it is absolutely imperative that we recognize that the LORD didn’t bring the children of Israel unto a land that was like their land, nor a land that was close and nearby to their land, but the LORD restored them unto the same land He had given unto their ancestors and had promised unto their fathers. This is important to realize and recognize, for the offer Sennacherib made unto the southern kingdom of Judah during the days of Hezekiah was that he would take them away and bring them unto a land “that was like their land.”

            As I sit here this morning I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the fact that it was never the will, the desire, the intention, the purpose and the plan of the LORD to bring the children out of their captivity and exile and bring them into a land that was like unto that which was given unto their ancestors and was sworn unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The LORD never desired, nor did the LORD ever intend on bringing the Jewish people out of their captivity and out of their exile that He might bring them into a land that was similar to their land, and yet was not their land. Perhaps one of the greatest miracles that took place during those seventy years of captivity and exile is that not only did the LORD faithfully watch over and preserve the people of Israel in the midst of the land of the Chaldeans, but the LORD also faithfully watched over and preserved the land of Israel as well. Those seventy years weren’t merely about the LORD faithfully watching over and preserving the people of Israel, as the LORD would faithfully watch over and preserve the land as well that He might bring the people of Israel back unto the land of Israel. It is at this point where I must needs emphatically declare that the land has always and will always belong to the nation and people of Israel, and there ought not be any man who would think otherwise. Heaven help that man, heaven help that people, heaven help that government, heaven help that army, heaven help those enemies and adversaries who think they can somehow destroy the people of Israel—and not only destroy them, but also remove them from the land and seize control of the land. We must needs realize and understand that the land has always belonged to Jacob, and the land always will belong to Jacob, and there ought not be any man who would dare try to and seize or lay hold of the land from the people ordained and appointed by the living God.

            With all of this being said it is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand that the nation and people of Israel weren’t reborn as a nation but once within and throughout history, but they were reborn as a nation and people a second time. There would be a rebirth and restoration that would take place within Scripture after seventy years of captivity and exile, however, there would be another rebirth and restoration that would take place nearly two thousand years after the Jewish people were forced out of the land after Rome invaded Judaea, sacked the city of Jerusalem, and destroyed the Temple of the LORD with fire. For nearly two thousand years the Jewish people wandered within, upon and throughout the earth among the nations of men having been separated from the land which was theirs by oath and covenant. It would be in the wake, it would in the shadow and the aftermath of the Holocaust and the events of World War II the nation of Israel would be reborn once more, as once more there would be a declaration that would permit the Jewish people to return unto the land. What we must needs recognize and understand is that not only were the Jewish people permitted to return to the land, but they were permitted to return unto the land which was sworn on oath by the LORD their God unto Abraham, unto Isaac and unto Jacob. Even as I am sitting here today I can’t help but think about the fact that the LORD allowed a biblical example of the rebirth of the nation of Israel, as well as a modern day example of the rebirth of the nation of Israel to directly link and connect the two together to prove and demonstrate the validity and the accuracy of Scripture. There is not a doubt in my mind that the LORD deliberately and intentionally allowed both a biblical example of the rebirth of the nation of Israel, as well as a modern day example of the rebirth of the nation of Israel that the recent example would link the two events together, thus proving that the land did indeed belong to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their descendants for ever and ever. I am absolutely and completely convinced that these two rebirths of the nation and people of Israel are intrinsically linked to each other and must be understood as such, for by, with and through them we encounter and come face to face with the awesome and powerful reality that the Jewish people have belonged within the land since the days and time of Abraham. What’s more, is that it was and it has been the sovereignty of the living God that has allowed both rebirths and restorations to take place that He might demonstrate His love, His affection, and His zeal for the Jewish people, for the land of Israel, and for the city of Jerusalem.

            It is with all of this in mind I feel it absolutely necessary and imperative to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the first New Testament epistle written unto the saints which were at Corinth, for while in the epistle written unto the Romans the apostle sought to demonstrate the election of God for and toward the people of Israel—it is in the first epistle written by the hand of the same apostle a powerful case was made that the narrative of the people of Israel stood and served as an example for and unto us. I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which are found in this passage of Scripture, for it wonderfully and powerful demonstrates the tremendous truth surrounding the nation and people of Israel and how their history serves as a powerful witness, a powerful testimony, and a powerful example unto us within this generation. Through the words presented in this particular portion of the epistle the apostle Paul sought to wonderfully and powerfully demonstrate that what we read and what we find in Scripture concerning the people of Israel—and specifically the people of Israel in the wilderness—was written for our example that we might take to heart that which they experienced during those forty years wandering and journeying through the wilderness. What makes this so incredibly unique and powerful is when you think about the fact that when writing these words the apostle Paul sought to use the narrative of the people of Israel in the wilderness rather than during the time of the judges, and rather than during the time of the kings of Israel and Judah, and rather than during the times of the prophets. When the apostle Paul sought to appeal to the history of the nation and people of Israel he sought to bring us face to face with their history in the midst of the wilderness.

            If and as you read the words which are found within these chapters you will quickly encounter that what is presented before us is a powerful witness and a powerful example of temptation, and how for forty years the children of Israel tempted the living God in the wilderness. In fact, if and as you read the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers you will find the LORD speaking unto Moses concerning that first generation of the children of Israel which not only emerged from the slavery and bondage of Egypt, but had also passed through the waters of the Red Sea, and how they had tempted Him ten times thus far in the wilderness journey. What makes this all the more challenging is when you think about the fact that this wasn’t ten times over the period of forty years of wandering in the wilderness, but it was ten times from the time they came out of the land of Egypt until the time they came to the edge of the land of Canaan and Moses sent Joshua, Caleb and ten other men into the land to spy it out. It would be at that time the ten spies brought back an evil report concerning the land—and not only brought an evil report concerning the land, but would also turn the hearts of the people to fear and doubt in the presence of the LORD, which would lead them to complaining, to murmuring and to grumbling against both Moses and the LORD. What makes this narrative so incredibly powerful when you think about is that when the LORD spoke of how the children of Israel had tempted the LORD God ten times there in the wilderness during that first year since coming out of the land of Egypt. It would be the combination of those ten times tempting the LORD God in the wilderness with that recent experience and encounter with doubt, with fear, and with murmuring and complaining the LORD would declare unto Moses concerning the children of Israel that the first generation which emerged from the land of Egypt—all those twenty years of age and older—would perish in the wilderness as their bodies would fall and lie in the wilderness. Not only this, but it was also at this time the living and eternal God emphatically declared concerning the children of Israel that their children—those whom they thought would be a prey unto the inhabitants of the land of Canaan—would not only enter into the land of Canaan instead and in place of their fathers, but they would also endure and bear the iniquities of their fathers for forty years in the wilderness. Consider if you will the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers concerning this fateful interaction and exchange between the LORD and His servant Moses concerning the children of Israel in the wilderness:

            “And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word: But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, AND HAVE TEMPTED ME NOW THESE TEN TIMES, AND HAVE NOT HEARKENED TO MY VOICE; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: but my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it. (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea. And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwel therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise. I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die. And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, even those men that did bring up the evil report upon the land, died by the plague before the LORD. But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to search the land, lived still. And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly” (Numbers 14:20-39).

            AND HAVE TEMPTED ME NOW THESE TEN TIMES, AND HAVE NOT HEARKENED UNTO MY VOICE! I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs pay close and careful attention to the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers, for the words which are found in this chapter not only present us with the context for the forty years of the wilderness, but they also present us with the awesome and powerful truth concerning the fact that the children of Israel had indeed and had in fact tempted the LORD ten times during their time journeying in the wilderness. It’s important to realize and recognize that when the LORD spoke these words unto Moses the servant of the LORD they were spoken at the end the forty years in the wilderness. It would indeed be true that the children of Israel would indeed face and experience temptation of the LORD during those forty years in the wilderness, however, we must needs recognize and understand the fact that these ten times weren’t committed over a forty year period of time, but were actually committed within that first and initial time they emerged from the bondage, the slavery, and the oppression of the land of Egypt. It would be during that time after having come out of the land of Egypt the children of Israel would tempt the LORD, and it would be manifested as early as their time coming to the Red Sea. It would be there at the Red Sea the children of Israel would face their first temptation in the wilderness as they would have the Red Sea before them and the Egyptian army pursuing them coming from the land of Egypt. It would be in that moment the children of Israel would need to choose between fear, doubt and complaining, or trust, confidence and belief before and in the sight of the living God. We must needs recognize and understand what is written and recorded within the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers, for there is not a doubt in my mind that the words which are found there are intrinsically linked and connected to the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the first New Testament epistle which was written unto the Corinthian saints. I am absolutely and completely convinced that the temptations which the apostle Paul wrote about when writing unto the Corinthian saints were some of those very temptations which the LORD spoke about when speaking unto Moses. There is not a doubt in my mind that when the apostle Paul wrote concerning the temptations of the children of Israel in the wilderness he wasn’t referencing at least one—if not more than one of these temptations the LORD referenced when speaking unto Moses in the wilderness.

            If you take the time to read the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament epistle of First Corinthians you will find that the words and language surrounding that which the apostle Paul was speaking about was the children of Israel and their temptation of the LORD in the midst of the wilderness. It’s actually quite interesting to think about and consider the tremendous comparison and contrast that existed between the provision and blessing of the LORD in the wilderness and the children of Israel tempting the LORD in spite and despite of that blessing. The apostle Paul wrote concerning the fathers of the Jews during that generation—those who experienced the journey into and through the wilderness—were under the cloud, and passed through the sea. Moreover, the apostle Paul would go on to write how they were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. It is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand this tremendous reality, for when the apostle Paul wrote about the fathers passing through the sea he was undoubtedly writing and speaking about the Red Sea when the LORD parted the waters asunder during the night and caused the children of Israel to pass through those waters safely unto the other side. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this, for when you look at the miracle of the Red Sea you will find that not only did the LORD use the waters being parted before the children of Israel as means to bring them through unto the other side, but He also used the collapsing waters to destroy their Egyptian enemies which pursued them. It’s incredibly interesting to think and consider how the miracle and supernatural wonder of the Red Sea would be compared to that of baptism. Not only this, but when you think about and consider baptism in direct connection to the miracle of the Red Sea you will find that baptism is not only about our coming through and our coming unto the other side, but it is also about the drowning of our enemies and our adversaries. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and tremendous reality, for when the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints he wrote of the children of Israel and how they were not only baptized in the Red Sea as they emerged on the other side, but also how through that baptism the Egyptian enemies they saw on the former side of the Red Sea they would not see anymore. This is something we must needs pay close and careful attention to, for it brings us face to face with the truth that within and through this baptism there would not only be a passing through and essentially a rebirth, but there would also be the drowning and destruction of the enemies and adversaries of the children of Israel.

            Upon reading the words found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints you will find him writing concerning the fathers how they were all under the same cloud which led them during the day, and how they all passed through the Red Sea. What makes the words which the apostle Paul even more intriguing and astonishing is when you think about and consider the fact that he would go on to write of the spiritual blessings the LORD provided unto them during those times when the children of Israel journeyed through the wilderness. If you continue reading the words found in this passage you will find the apostle Paul writing concerning the fathers of Israel and how they were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and how they did all eat the same spiritual meat, and did all drink the same spiritual drink. The apostle Paul would go on to write concerning them how they drank from the spiritual Rock which followed them, and how that Rock was Christ. It is absolutely necessary that we pay close and careful attention to the words which are found here, for what we find is a powerful comparison and contrast between passing through the sea, being led by the cloud, partaking of the spiritual meat, and drinking of the spiritual drink in the wilderness. Not only this, but what the apostle Paul goes on to write within this passage is the stark contrast that existed between the spiritual blessing and provision the children of Israel experienced in the wilderness and how they would tempt the LORD—and not only tempt the LORD, but would also tempt the spiritual Rock which followed them, which was the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot afford to miss and lose sight of what is presented before us here, for despite the spiritual blessing and provision the children of Israel experienced in the wilderness the children of Israel would proceed to tempt the spiritual Rock which followed them in the wilderness.

            The more I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I can’t help but be brought face to face with the fact that despite the fact the children of Israel experienced the same spiritual blessing and provision, and despite the fact that they drank from the spiritual Rock which followed them—the Rock that was Christ—it was with many of them God was displeased. Pause for a moment and think about the tremendous significance and impact those words would have on the ones who read them in this epistle, for there is a stark contrast between drinking the spiritual Rock that followed them, and how despite the fact that they drank from that spiritual Rock they would all displease and anger the LORD their God. It would be this reality which the author of the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews would also write about, for they would appeal to the words which were written and found in the book of the Psalms concerning hearing the voice of the LORD and not hardening their hearts as those did during the days of the provocation. In all reality, I am absolutely and completely convinced that if we are to truly understand the words which are found within this passage of Scripture we must not only consider the words which the LORD spoke unto Moses in the wilderness after the ten spies brought a slanderous and evil report against the land—and not only against the land, but also against the LORD of the land—but we must also consider the words which are found in the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews. There is not a doubt in my mind that if we want to truly get a full and complete sense of that which the apostle Paul seeks to write here in this passage we must needs turn and direct our attention to the words which are found in the third and fourth chapters of the epistle written unto the Hebrews. It is there within those two chapters where we find another narrative of the children of Israel rebelling and transgressing against the commandment of the LORD—and not only rebelling and transgressing against the commandment of the LORD, but also of tempting the LORD their God through their doubt, through their murmuring, and through their rebellion. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand when reading these words it’s that when the children of Israel journeyed through the wilderness their three greatest sins and trespasses against the LORD was their rebellion against the LORD, their complaining against the LORD, and their unbelief. Essentially that which the children of Israel struggled and wrestled with during those years in the wilderness was a rebellious, a complaining and an unbelieving heart. What’s more, is that it would be unbelief that would essentially be the foundation and the catalyst for their rebellion and their complaining, for both would be a direct result and byproduct of that unbelief. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the third chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews:

            “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not heart hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day: lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; while it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of their unbelief” (Hebrews 3:7-19).

            The words which we find here in the third chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews is a powerful picture into that which we found in the tenth chapter of the epistle written unto the Corinthian saints by the apostle Paul, for within this chapter we find the author writing how the living God was grieved with those in the wilderness—and not only was He grieved with them, but he also went on to say that they did always err in their heart and did not know His ways. The author would then go on to instruct their audience concerning themselves, and how they needed to take heed lest there be in any of them an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. It is quite clear when reading the words found in the third chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews that there was indeed a great provocation in the wilderness—one that would indeed tempt the spiritual Rock that would follow them. It’s interesting to think about how the author of the epistle which was written unto the Hebrews wrote and spoke of that time in the wilderness as a provocation, while when writing unto the saints which were at Corinth the apostle Paul wrote of it in terms of how they provoked the living God. I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs recognize and understand that there was indeed within the children of Israel which emerged from the land of Egypt an evil and unbelieving heart, and it was that evil and unbelieving heart that not only allowed them to give into fear, but it would also lead them into rebellion and murmuring in the sight of the living God. Oh dear reader—please note and please understand that we must needs understand and recognize that unbelief must without a doubt be addressed within our hearts, for if unbelief is not addressed within our hearts it can and may very well lead to a tremendous period of rebellion and complaining within our hearts and within our mouths. We must needs acknowledge and recognize that when considering the narrative of the children of Israel in the wilderness that rebellion and complaining is just as much a matter of the heart as it is that which proceeds out of the mouth. It is absolutely necessary that we pay close and careful attention to these words, for it is with these words we come face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that when we fail—and perhaps even refuse to deal with and confront our unbelieving heart, we open ourselves up to a powerful manifestation of complaining and rebellion before, against and in the sight of the living God. It is absolutely necessary that we understand this, for it is that unbelieving and evil heart that led the children of Israel to tempt the living and eternal God there in the wilderness. Consider if you will the following words which are written and recorded in the tenth chapter of this epistle beginning to read with and from the fifth verse:

            “But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 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 as serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come” (1 Corinthians 10:5-11).

            I have to admit that as I sit here and read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture there is something to be said about that which is written in the fifth verse—namely, when the apostle Paul wrote “But with many of them God was not well pleased.” It is necessary that we understand these words, for these words and this language would be used twice more within Scripture—and not only would they be used twice more in Scripture, but they would be used of that spiritual Rock which was Christ. What’s more, is that if you read the gospel narratives which were written concerning the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ you will find that after He emerged from the waters of baptism, and after the heavens were opened, and after the Spirit descended upon Him in the bodily form of a dove the voice of the Father would speak unto Him. It would be the voice of the Father that would not only declare concerning Jesus that He was His beloved Son, but the voice of the Father would also declare concerning His Son that He was well pleased. There at the Jordan River the voice of the Father would speak concerning Jesus and would not only declare that He was His beloved Son, but He would also declare that it was in Him in whom He was well pleased. What makes this even more intriguing and interesting when you take the time to think about it is when you consider it in light of what is written here in the tenth chapter of this epistle, for within this tenth chapter we find the apostle Paul writing concerning those who had entered into the wilderness whom the LORD God was not well pleased. When writing concerning the fathers of Israel which entered into the wilderness we find the LORD describing how He was not well pleased with many of them, and yet when we read the gospel narratives concerning the Lord Jesus the Christ we find the Father declaring concerning His Son that in Him He was well pleased. Please note that these words were spoken before Jesus would enter into the wilderness, and before Jesus would be tempted of the devil in the midst thereof. It would be at the Jordan River where Jesus would hear the voice of the Father declare concerning Him that He was well pleased with Him, and yet concerning the ancestors of the children of Israel the Father was not well pleased. What’s more, is the reason the Father was not well pleased with the children of Israel in the wilderness was because of their evil and unbelieving heart—and not only their evil and unbelieving heart, but also their fornication and their idolatry.

            It is truly something worth noting and pointing out when reading these words that concerning the children of Israel in the wilderness the living and eternal God would not be well pleased with them, however, when it came to Jesus the Christ we find the Father declaring that He was well pleased with Him. What makes these words so incredibly powerful is when you think about the fact that immediately after Jesus would emerge from the waters of the baptism He would be thrust by the Spirit into the wilderness where He would be tempted of the devil. It would be there in the wilderness Jesus would be among the wild beasts as He gave Himself to fasting forty days and forty nights. There in the wilderness the tempter who was the Devil would come unto Him desiring to tempt Him and cause Him to rebel against His Father as the children of Israel did. What makes this quite remarkable and quite astonishing is when you think about and consider the fact that when Jesus entered into the wilderness—not only would He enter into the wilderness being led by the Spirit, but He would also enter into the wilderness with the knowledge of identity and pleasure. When Jesus entered into the wilderness He would enter into it knowing His identity as the eternal Son of the Father, but He would also enter into it knowing the divine delight and pleasure of the living God and Father in Him. This is something that must needs be recognized and understood, for when you read concerning the temptation of the children of Israel in the wilderness—not only will you find them tempting the LORD, but you will also find them tempting Christ. It would be in this passage of Scripture in the first and opening epistle written unto the Corinthian saints the apostle Paul would not only write concerning the children of Israel how they gave themselves to fornication and idolatry, but also how they had given themselves to tempting the Lord Jesus Christ who was the spiritual Rock which followed them.

The underlying reason and purpose which is found in the tenth chapter of the epistle written unto the Corinthians was how the narrative and history of the children of Israel in the wilderness was written as an example unto us who are the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus the Christ. The apostle Paul made it perfectly clear that these things were our examples to the intent that we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. If and as you continue reading you will the find the apostle Paul going on to write how these things were written as examples unto us that we be not idolaters as were some of them when they sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. It is these words which reference the incident and idolatry of the golden calf when while Moses was atop the mountain in the presence of the living God the children of Israel would worship and serve an image of a golden calf which Aaron had made for them. When the apostle Paul speaks of the example of the children of Israel concerning idolatry He was speaking of their idolatrous worship of the golden calf which was present among them in the wilderness. If and as you continue reading you will find the apostle Paul going on to write how we have been given examples that we should not commit fornication as some of them committed—undoubtedly when they had committed fornication with Moab and Ammon when Baal of Peor enticed them to transgress against the commandment of the LORD. The truth which we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture is the tremendous dangerous of a generation of people which lusted after evil things, which were idolaters, which were fornicators, which tempted Christ, and which murmured and complained. What’s more, is that as you read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find that the LORD swiftly, decisively and immediately responded to the transgression of the children of Israel in the midst of the wilderness, as twenty-three thousand would fall in one day, as the LORD would destroy others by serpents, and as the LORD would destroy others by the destroyer. The words which we find within this passage directly confront us with the condition and nature of our heart—and not only with the condition of our heart, but also whether or not we are those who follow in the example of the children of Israel in our own temptation of the living God and of His Christ. In fact, if you continue reading the words which are found within this passage you will find the apostle Paul writing and speaking about the temptations we face within this world and within this life, and how we have been given the ability to rise above temptation. Consider the following words which are found in the tenth chapter of this epistle beginning to read with and from the eleventh verse:

            “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to men: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say” (1 Corinthians 10:11-15).

            Perhaps the single greatest need that we have when reading these words is the powerful admonition and instruction given by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints that they take heed lest they fall. The apostle Paul sought to warn the Corinthian saints of spiritual pride and spiritual arrogance and thinking more highly of themselves than they ought to. The apostle Paul sought to use the example of the children of Israel to call and draw their attention to the absolutely remarkable and astonishing fact that their history, their narrative, and their experiences were written unto us for our examples—and only for our examples, but also that we might learn from those examples and choose to walk in an entirely different path. In all reality, the words which are found in this passage of Scripture point to the tremendous manifestation of temptation within our hearts and within our lives, and how there is a great need to guard ourselves against temptation. Perhaps one of the greatest things we must needs recognize and understand is that temptation can and will be before and all around us until the day we pass from this earthly realm and enter into eternity. The apostle Paul was very clear concerning temptation—and not only temptation, but also how there is a great need to guard ourselves against and from temptation. What’s more, is the apostle Paul would also go on to write how there has no temptation taken us but such as is common to man, and how God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which we are able. Moreover, the living and eternal God will also with every temptation make a way to escape. THE LORD KNOWS HOW MUCH YOU CAN HANDLE! THE LORD KNOWS WHAT YOU NEED TO ESCAPE! As I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are written and found in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that when it comes to temptation within our lives, the LORD knows exactly how much we can handle, how much we can bear, and how much we are able to work with in our lives. When we think about temptation we must needs recognize and understand that the LORD has never and the LORD will never give us more than what He knows we are able to handle. There is the temptation to think that the LORD can and will somehow give us more than what we can handle, and more than what we can bear, however, the truth of the matter is that the LORD will never give us more than what we can handle, and what we can bear.

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of Scripture and I am brought face to face with the tremendous fact that when we speak about temptation—not only must we recognize and understand that the LORD will not give us more than what we can handle and bear, but the LORD will also provide us with a means to escape the temptation. If you take the time to read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in this passage of Scripture you will encounter the reality that when we speak about temptation there is not temptation taken us except and but that which is common to man. Oh it is with this in mind I can’t help but think about and be reminded of the words which the apostle Peter wrote in the fourth chapter of the first epistle which he wrote unto the saints which were scattered. While in this particular passage of Scripture the apostle Peter wrote about suffering, he wrote about suffering in such a light as knowing that the same sufferings we are experiencing within our lives are being experienced by our brethren within and throughout the world. There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words which the apostle Peter wrote unto the saints which were scattered that they have a strong connection and link to the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the tenth chapter of the epistle written unto the Corinthians saints. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this awesome and tremendous truth, for there is something to be said about a common and shared struggle. There is something to be said about a common conflict, a common battle, and a common temptation we all face within this life. Perhaps one of the most intriguing and astonishing realities found within these two chapters is when you think about the fact that there hath no temptation taken us except that which is common among men, and that the sufferings we face and experience within our hearts and lives is also somewhat common to that which other saints face within their hearts and lives. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the fourth chapter of the first New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Peter unto the saints which were scattered among the  nations and lands during those days and times:

            “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings: that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. Ye if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf. For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful minister” (1 Peter 4:12-19).        

            “Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplish in your brethren that are in the world. But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 5:5-11).

            KNOWING THAT THE SAME AFFLICTIONS ARE ACCOMPLISHED IN YOUR BRETHREN THAT ARE IN THE WORLD! THERE HATH NO TEMPTATION TAKEN YOU BUT SUCH IS COMMON TO MAN! Oh I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly challenged with the fact that not only does the LORD know how much we can handle, but the LORD also knows that there is a need for community, for fellowship, for relationship, and for camaraderie when it comes to suffering—and not only suffering, but also temptation. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this awesome and powerful truth as we must needs recognize and understand that the LORD does indeed know how much we can handle, and the LORD does indeed know how much we can bear—and not only this, but the LORD also knows what we need to escape. When we think about and consider temptation we must needs recognize and understand that the LORD knows how much we can handle, and the LORD can never and will never give us more than what we can handle within our hearts and lives. When it comes to suffering we must needs understand and realize that our brethren are experiencing the same suffering and the same affliction within and throughout the world. THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE SUFFERING! THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE TEMPTED! Oh how absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that there is not only a fellowship of the suffering among us in this world, but there is also a fellowship of the tempted in this life. When we think and speak about temptation and suffering we must needs realize and recognize that the LORD can never and will never give us more than what He knows we can handle. Not only this, but we must realize and recognize that the LORD has already provided us with the strength and the grace that we need—not only to bear up under and bear up in the midst of temptation, but also suffering as well. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the twelfth chapter of the second epistle which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints concerning his own trial, concerning his own struggle, and concerning his own temptation if you will. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning to read with and from the first and opening verse:

            “For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the LORD thrice, that it might depart from me, and He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: For my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:6-9).

MY GRACE IS SUFFICIENT FOR THEE! MY STRENGTH IS MADE PERFECT IN WEAKNESS! As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I feel it absolutely necessary that we truly recognize and come face to face with the fact that there is absolutely nothing we can and nothing we will experience that is above that which the LORD knows we can handle and bear. With that being said we must needs recognize and understand that there are times when there is a vast difference between what we think we can handle, and what we think we can bear, and that which the living God thinks we can handle and bear. There are times when we think that we can only handle a certain amount, and yet the LORD knows that we can handle more than what we even think we are capable of handling. It’s actually worth noting that there are countless times within our lives when the Lord not only sees strength in us, but also knows His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and as a direct result of this He allows to handle more than what we think we are able to bear and handle. How many times have you within your life thought and believed that you can handle only a certain among, and yet the living God who knows you better than you know yourself has given you more than what you thought you could handle? What’s more, is the living God not only gave you more than what you thought you could handle, but He also gives it to you knowing that His grace is sufficient for thee, and that His strength is made perfect in weakness. We must needs recognize and understand this, for it is absolutely necessary we recognize that the LORD can never give us more than what He knows we can handle and bear, and that with giving us what He knows we can handle the LORD also provides and makes a way of escape in the midst of that. Oh how truly astonishing and captivating it is to think and consider the powerful truth that the LORD does indeed and the LORD does in fact know what we can handle, and what we can bear within this life—and not only this, but there are times when He gives us more credit than we even give ourselves. Would it shock and surprise you to think and consider that there are times within our lives when the LORD gives us more credit than we give ourselves—and not only more than what we give ourselves, but also in the weakness that is within us? There is not a doubt in my mind that the greater the weakness there is within our hearts and lives the greater we can handle and the more we can bear up under that which we face. In all reality, I would dare say that the more weakness there is within yourself the more the LORD can and will allow you to handle and bear, for it is in that weakness His strength is made perfect. I bring this writing to a close with the emphatic and powerful declaration that the LORD knows how much you can handle and bear—not because of the strength that is found within you, but because of the weakness that is found within you. The LORD knows that to the degree and measure of the weakness that is found within you is the degree and measure His strength can and will be made perfect within you. Oh dear brother, oh dear sister—it is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and understand this, for it brings us face to face with the truly astonishing and wonderful truth that the greater the weakness there is within our hearts and our lives the greater the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ can be within us—and not only this, but the greater the strength of Christ is within our hearts and lives the greater we can handle and bear up under that which we face and experience. Oh that we would truly understand and come face to face with the fact that only to the degree and measure we are willing to be weak before the Lord Jesus Christ can and will the strength of Christ be made perfect and manifest within our hearts and lives. There is not a doubt in my mind that the greater the weakness there is within our hearts and lives the greater we can handle and the more we can bear up in the midst of and under that which we face within our lives, for it is not strength within ourselves that helps us to withstand and rise up, but rather it is the strength of Christ and the grace of Christ which is sufficient for us. Dear reader, please pay close and careful attention to these words and to this reality, for they not only help us to understand that the LORD cannot and will not give us more than what we can handle and bear, but the greater the weakness there is within our hearts and souls the greater the strength of Christ can be within our hearts and lives. It is that strength of Christ that overshadows our weakness and rises up within us as strength and grace and allows us to handle more than what we thought we were even capable of. The question we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to glory in our weakness as the apostle Paul did knowing that it is in our weakness, and it is in that weakness the living and eternal Christ can and will rise up within us with strength and grace to help us to do more than what we thought was even possible in this life and in this flesh.

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