Learn from History

If we are wise, we can learn from those who have gone ahead of us. We can think about what has happened to those whose history we know and we can know those things that we should do as well as those things that we shouldn’t. As Paul spoke to the Corinthians in his letter gave examples of exactly how this worked to help the Corinthians learn from the experience of the Israelites in the desert.

Paul explained that the Israelites received a baptism. Following their exit from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites were under the cloud as they followed God and his presence as he led the Israelites through the wildnerness. In addition, they also went through the sea, speaking of their miraculous trek through the Red Sea.

Paul says that they were, therefore, “baptized into Moses”. Speaking of Moses, we use his name as a way to speak of the law that God provided to him. The Israelites were under the law that God had given to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

God had provided everything for the Israelites. He had brought them out of slavery. He had protected them as they escaped from the Egyptians. He gave them food and water and he even provided a land where they would go, the promised land of Canaan.

But the Israelites were stubborn and despite what God had provided, they were unwilling to continue to follow the laws that God had given to them. They quickly turned away toward the gods of other nations, or toward idols of gods that they made for themselves, and in doing so, they brought God’s wrath and punishment upon themselves.

Yet God says that Jesus was with them even in this time. Jesus wasn’t born until several millenia later, but Jesus was symbolically there with the Israelites even in that time.

They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

1 Corinthians 10:2-5

Christ is the rock, the foundation of our faith, and he is shown in this imagery as producing water that gave the Israelites life in the desert. In this same way, Jesus actually said that those who believed in him would have streams of living water flowing from within them.

In the same way that Paul is calling the Corinthians to learn from the Israelites, we also should do the same. We must learn from God’s Word, from the Spirit of God, and from the experience of others. We need to know how we can not only repeat the successes but also how to not fail as others have failed. May we have wisdom and look to others’ experience as we do this so that we may bring God glory in all that we do.

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