Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Church in the Wildwood

1 Cor 10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

Paul employs a great allegory here, relating the local church in Corinth to the local congregation that Moses led in the wilderness.

They all became one body through blood and baptism. New Testament believers are saved by the blood of Christ, they become related by virtue of being born into the family of God. Then they follow the Lord in Baptism which places them into the local church. The wilderness family was baptized in the cloud and by passing through the waters of the Red Sea. Remember, this is an imperfect picture, don't get too bogged down with specifics. Enjoy the general likenesses which Paul is employing.

Pastor Moses was charged with the ministry of leading Israel from bondage in Egypt to the brink of the Promised Land of Canaan. His 40 year stint as leader of the flock included much sorrow, setback, loss and faith-building.

Unfortunately, every adult who began the journey died in the wilderness. There were church squabbles and splits, gainsaying and rebellions. Serpents afflicted gripers. The earth opened to swallow usurpers. Many were the adversaries along the way. Needs arose and God miraculously supplied them. Manna fell from heaven, water appeared from a rock, quail came out of nowhere to meet the physical needs. Shoes and clothing lasted for decades without even becoming threadbare.

The congregation went from having a slave mentality to that of seasoned soldiers.

It was a long, drawn out, growing, 2-steps-forward, 1-step-back affair. But they made it!

Now if that doesn't sound like a Wikipedia summary of most any Gospel preaching church, I don't know what does.

Corinth was such a church. The folks were saved, got baptized, (1Co 12:13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.) and went from victory to crisis to blessing to sin to miracle to rebellion, time and time again.

Like the "Church in the Wildwood", Corinthian church goers all feasted on the same messages, spiritual meat. They had all heard Paul, Cephas and Apollos preach. They were all dunked in the same body of water to show their commitment to Christ, the common faith and their church. Christ was their Savior, their Rock.

But Corinth, like Israel in the wilderness and like many a church today, took opportunities to displease God, allowing the enemy to overthrow them in the wilderness.

So, the Corinthians had the children of Israel as their example to stay on the path, and we have both Corinth and Israel as examples to stay close to the Lord and steer clear of iniquity.

Let us take Paul's advice to not lust after evil things; to not be idolatrous; to avoid fornication; to not tempt the Lord our God; to not murmur against the Lord and His ordained leadership.

Canaan land awaits the faithful church, don’t let this wilderness get to you!

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