Learning from our past



‘Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice … pleasing to God’ (Romans 12:1). Pray: ‘Lord, how can I best please you today? Amen.’

Bible passage

1 Corinthians 10:1–13

Warnings from Israel’s history

10 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptised 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.

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.’ We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did – and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did – and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did – and were killed by the destroying angel.

11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

Word Live


In the TV series Who Do You Think You Are?, a celebrity is helped to delve into their genealogy and discover some of their heritage. The Corinthian Christians and Paul were family (‘brothers and sisters’), and their spiritual ancestors were the children of Israel (v 1) whom God rescued from Egypt.

There was so much for the Corinthian Christians to learn from their heritage. Under Moses, God had blessed the family wonderfully. He had saved them, sustained them, watched over them and accompanied them (vs 2–4). But things had gone wrong too (vs 5–10). Some of their ancient predecessors had allowed misdirected desires to lead them into forbidden territory: idolatry, debauchery or immorality, with far-reaching consequences. ‘God was not pleased’ (v 5) – to put it mildly.

‘These things … were written down as warnings for us’ (v 11), says Paul. The Corinthians, like their predecessors, had been much blessed. So beware! If we are blessed, we too can fall (v 12). Any Christian, however much respected or ‘successful’, can fall calamitously. No one is not tempted. But don’t despair. God is faithful. He knows our limits. Look for the way out that God provides (v 13). 

Roger Combes


Imagining ourselves in the shoes of someone in the story can help us learn what the Lord is saying to us now. Keep this in mind as you read.

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Read the Bible in a year: 1 Samuel 7–9; Proverbs 21,22

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