“I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers,” wrote the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 10:1). The original readers of these words were first-century followers of Jesus in Corinth. Paul proceeded to compare the lives of his readers with the lives of God’s people more than 1,000 years earlier. Paul knew that God’s people today gain important spiritual understanding from the Bible’s record of past generations of believers.
The premier event of God’s deliverance in the Old Testament was the Exodus. Israel was saved from cruel bondage in Egypt. In the New Testament the defining act of God’s salvation is Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. But too many of God’s people living in the current age have too little understanding of God’s work before the birth of Jesus.
The historical events that make up the Old Testament Exodus provide a rich and instructive picture of the Christian walk in this age. Israel’s time as slaves to Pharaoh is a picture of the Christian’s former life as a slave to sin. Israel crossing the Red Sea to freedom under God’s miraculous power is an illustration of the Christian discovering freedom under the power of Christ’s cross.
In the same way that Israel wandered in the wilderness, the Christian struggles to live a godly life in an ungodly age. Israel struggled to obey God’s leadership, constantly tempted to return to bondage in Egypt. Followers of Jesus are often tempted to give up and return to a life of sin. The children of Israel could not return to Egypt because God would not allow it. Their only choice was to be obedient to God and experience his blessings, or disobey and be miserable.
After years of trials and tribulations Israel finally crossed the Jordan River and entered the Promised Land, a good and spacious land flowing with milk and honey. Every follower of Jesus, after walking through a life of groaning in this age, will finally lay down the earthly tent and enter an eternal house in heaven, not made by human hands.
The journey through wilderness places was not all heartache for the children of Israel. They were led by the visible Presence of God, a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire at night. They saw the glory of God fill the Tabernacle. They also heard the very words of Almighty God from Moses, God’s chosen and empowered leader.
We, too, expect more than trouble in this age. We are led by the indwelling Spirit of God, touched by the power of God’s Spirit when we gather for worship as the people of God. We are living stones growing into a holy temple for the Lord. And we have the Word of God, living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword.
Our heritage as God’s people is deep, rich, and inspiring. The full counsel of God, Old Testament and New, instructs us in living the victorious Christian life now, as we eagerly await the wedding supper of the Lamb in eternity. No wonder the Psalmist wrote that God’s Word is sweeter than honey (Psalm 119:103). Do not miss a single word!
May the eternal and powerful Word of Christ dwell richly within your heart always,
Brother Richard Foster, Pastor
Grace Baptist Church, Camden, AR