Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.1 Corinthians 10:11(NASB)
Throughout his epistles, Paul wanted his readers to be aware of pitfalls in the Christian life as well as the principles and practices that directed them towards Christlikeness. He not only delivered Church-age doctrine to believers and taught Church-age principles when he visited their cities or wrote his epistles; Paul also used Israel's past failures to illustrate Christian truth, teachings, principles, and practices. "Now these things happened to them (Israel) as an example. They were written for our instruction - upon whom the ends of the ages have come."
The things that happened in Israel's past, were not intriguing little stories or made-up tales or legends. They were historical events. They were factual happenings. Old Testament Scriptures are an authentic, verifiable chronicle of Israel's past history. However, they were written for a very important reason - to teach the Christian Church some important lessons.
The things that happened to Israel were written for OUR learning. They were written so we would see their faults and failure and avoid them in our lives. They were recorded in the inerrant Word of God as a warning to US, so that we would not make the same foolish mistakes that they made.
At the start of Chapter 10, Paul gave some specific examples of Israel's wonderful spiritual benefits. They 'passed through the cloud' as the Shekinah glory of God overshadowed them, cared for them and led them out of slavery. They were 'baptised into Moses', who was the instrument God used to redeem His people from Egypt. And because they were baptised into Moses i.e. 'identified' with God's servant, they experienced supernatural deliverance as they crossed the Red Sea in safety. Yet Israel failed to honour the Lord.
Every one of them 'ate of spiritual food' when manna fell from heaven and they ALL 'drank spiritual drink' as refreshing water gushed from the side of the Rock, which was identified as Jesus, the Rock of their salvation and Sustainer of their soul. They were the people of God, and He was with them every step of the journey. But they failed, they rebelled, they sinned and they murmured, and Paul exhorts us not to make the same mistakes.
We have the same spiritual benefits. We passed from darkness to light, when we were rescued from the slave-market of sin. We were baptised into CHRIST and identified with Him. Like Israel, we have been supernaturally delivered from sin, Satan, death, and hell. We eat of Christ, our Bread of Life and drink from the Living Water of life, for unless we eat of His Body and drink His Blood, through faith in Him, we will remain dead in our sins. He is the Rock of our salvation and the Sustainer of our soul, and Jesus is with us every step of this journey through life.
But because of Israel's ungodly behaviour, wrong attitudes, rebellious ways, and spiritual apostasy, the nation failed to carry out God's plans and purposes. They were the people called by God and chosen as His witnesses on earth. But they disqualified themselves, and were set aside for a season, and we are warned not to make the same mistakes that they did.
Israel was set aside and their promised kingdom was postponed, but God's plans were not abandoned. The Age of Israel ended at the cross when they were set aside for a season, and the Age of the Grace (or the Church Age) began. The Church was born at Pentecost, so that the good news of the gospel of Christ would continue to be shared through a new group of people - the Body of Christ, which is the Church. We are to carry out God's plans, obey His Word and apply the principles and practices that we have been given in the Word. So far it has lasted 2000 years, and this current dispensation will usher in 'the consummation of all things.' This Church Age will bring the world to the climatic end of the ages, the Day of the Lord and the return of the Lord Jesus to earth. His return will usher in Christ's Millennial kingdom, following Daniel's 70th Week, the 7-year tribulation period, where God will turn His attention back to Israel and as a nation all Israel will be saved.
God was not pleased with Israel. They were saved by grace but they were overthrown in the wilderness because they did not live by faith. The lives they lived and the choices they made were written as an example to us all, so that we would make wiser choices. God loves His chosen people Israel, and by His grace, is not through with them yet.
For us in this age of grace, may we learn from the mistakes Israel made and be careful to live as God would have us live. May we grow in grace, walk in spirit and truth, live in humble dependence on God, and be faithful servants unto our life's end, for His greater praise and glory.
Heavenly Father, it is easy to criticise the nation of Israel for their ungodly behaviour, wrong attitudes, rebellious ways, spiritual apostasy, and national failure, and yet I see that I could easily make the same mistakes, live a defeated life and fail You in word and deed. I pray that the indwelling Spirit of Christ would direct my behaviour and my attitudes. Keep me low at the cross, broken before you, trusting Your Word and looking to Jesus. I pray that I may grow in grace day by day and I ask that You change me into the person You want me to be, for without You I can do nothing right. Thank You in Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.