For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;1 Corinthians 10:1(NASB)
Not only did the believers at Corinth have to be taught Christians principles, but they had to be reminded to leave behind the human wisdom of the society in which they lived, once they were born from above. They needed to rid themselves of the carnal influences of the world's mindset, that bled into some of their ungodly behaviours. They needed to completely disassociate themselves from the culture and lifestyle they had left behind. As believers, they were to be disciplined in their words and action. Their lives were to be pure and holy in thought, word, and deed.
Having an understanding of their pre-salvation life and the pagan culture in Corinth, gave Paul an opportunity to highlight the difference between the way the world conducts itself and the Christian life. For instance, an understanding of the sacrifices in the pagan temples enabled Paul to teach them about the one true God, Whose perfect sacrifice on the Cross redeemed them from sin. Similarly, he taught about the liberty we have in Christ through discussing the eating of meat that was sacrificed to idols - but he also warned that exercising their liberty in Christ could cause a weaker brother to stumble in his Christian walk.
Just as he used Gentile culture as a teaching tool for holy living, Paul also used the history of Israel's exodus from Egypt to warn of the dangers of starting well, but failing to finish God's call on our life. "I do not want you to be unaware, brethren," he told them, "that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea."
The whole generation of Israelites who were saved from Egypt may have started their new life beyond Egypt well, when they trusted God during the first Passover... but none of them lived the victorious life that was possible, because of unbelief. Paul wanted to warn the Corinthians not to follow in the tragic footsteps of Israel, who failed to enter the Promised Land through unbelief, after having been rescued from Pharoah and Egyptian slavery!
Paul did not want those who are saved by grace through faith in Jesus to be rescued from the slave-market of sin, only to live a defeated life in this world, and fail in the work that God has prepared for us to do. Paul wanted these people to wake up and become spiritually aware of the danger they were in, if they continued to live a carnal lifestyle, or failed to trust in God's Word and do His will.
God blessed Israel greatly when He rescued them from Egypt, and the whole nation began their life of freedom well. The Lord led them in the day with a pillar of cloud and at night He went before them in a pillar of fire, which is why Paul told them, "our fathers were all under the cloud." Every one of them was saved by God's grace through faith and they were all led by God and protected by Him under the cloud of God's Shekinah glory, which overshadowed the people of Israel.
Not only did the cloud of God lead His people, but He protected them from the blistering sun that beat down on their heads and provided warmth during the bitter nights, as well as protection from the Egyptian army. What confidence these Israelites should have had to know that God, Who rescued them from 400 years of slavery, was leading them, guiding them, and even protecting them from their enemies, for we read that when the Egyptian army chased after the children of Israel, "the angel of God, Who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them."
They were all under the protection of the pillar of cloud, "and all of them passed through the sea." The Lord opened the Red Sea for His servant, Moses, and slaughtered the army that was pursuing them, beneath the waves. And the whole company of Israelites passed through the sea with Moses. They were baptised into Moses. All were identified with Moses. They were saved because of their association with Moses.
Passing through the midst of the Red Sea, presents us with a beautiful picture of baptism, for we are identified with Christ when we are baptised by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ - when we place our trust in HIM for salvation. Like Israel, we too passed from death to life, when we were identified with Christ.
Moses trusted God, and his faith was reckoned as righteousness. God opened the waters for him to pass through safely, by faith - and the whole company of Israel passed through the sea with Moses, for they believed God and were identified with their leader. In the same way, WE are identified with Christ because we trust in Him. In Roman Chapter 6, Paul put it this way, "do you not know that all of us who have been baptised into Christ Jesus have been baptised into His death? Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into His death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life."
Heavenly Father, thank You for the beautiful picture of Israel being under the cloud of Your supernatural protection, and thank You that like them, all who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ have "passed through the sea of death" through faith in Him. Thank You that by faith in Christ, I have been baptised into His Body and passed from death to life. Help me to learn all the lessons You would have me to learn, and may I be a worthy witness to a lost world of Your goodness and grace. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.