6Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 7And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”
In verses six through 10, there are five reasons the Israelites failed in the wilderness:
Lust, v. 6
Testing the Lord, v. 9
Grumbling against God’s plan, v. 10
Now these things became our examples,
Israel’s hard lessons provide an example for us. The Greek word for “examples” is tupos, from which we get the English word “type.” God designed Israel’s experience in wilderness discipline as a type for us to see today. As the Israelites went under God’s discipline, so will believers in our day (10:11).
to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.
Principles taken from the experiences of Israel directly bear on the lives of both the Corinthians and us. The principle of not allowing our lusts to run rampant is true in any age; discipline is necessary for any people at any time. Lust for power, for prominence, for things is all around us. The Greek word for “lust” is a desire that attaches itself upon its object. It is too long persistently after something.
And do not become idolaters as were some of them.
The Corinthians were tempted to worship at the Temple of Aphrodite or participate in their feasts. This fraternizing with pagan practices brings discipline from God. Idolatry is religion. Religion seeks to gain God’s approbation by human effort.
1 John 5:21, Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.
As it is written,
God’s system of documentation in the New Testament is to quote the Old Testament, with a few exceptions. There are two quotations from Greek poets of fifth-century B.C., but New Testament authors use these quotations to make a cultural point. The Greek indicates that the Old Testament quotation is permanent documentation for all believers of all time: “As it stands written.” The canon of Scripture stands written.
“The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.”
This is a quote from Exodus 32:6. The “play” here is not “hide-and-seek,” but “play” refers to sexual immorality in a dance. It is sexual merrymaking in a feast to a god. The party in Israel’s day was similar to the party-making in the day of the Corinthian church. It is interesting that Paul does not mention the worship of the golden calf (Ex 32:1-6) but rather a divesting of all self-control at the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai, no less! Moses went up into the mountain for 40 days. When the cat’s away, the mice play. When he did not come down, the people asked Aaron to worship the golden calf. Aaron was a wimp with no backbone, so he let them build an image of the golden calf. The result was sexual orgies with heavy drinking that lowered their resistance to sin.
The Bible stands eternally relevant to meet our needs at any time.
God gave us examples in the Old Testament so that we will not step into the same booby traps as they did. If we would only learn from the examples of those who have gone before us, but it seems that few of us learn from those examples. This is true with the parent-child relationship. Few children learn from the lessons of their parents. “Don’t touch that oven, it’s hot.” The parent turns her back, and the child touches the oven and cries, “Oh, it’s hot, Mommy.” When they become teens, the issues become greater.
The equivalent to idolatry in North American society is to put anything in place of God, whether it is our family, employment, recreation, or anything that we hold more important than God.