In the first two weeks of the sermon series “Binge Reading the Bible” we have studied the Pentateuch and Historical Books of the Bible. The Apostle Paul takes time in his first letter to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 10:1-22) to remind them of mistakes from the earlier Israelite history--the history we have in the Pentateuch and Historical Books. He was reminding his audience of that day that they too could make the same mistakes of the earlier Israelites. They too were susceptible to disobedience and walking away from their faith. Paul was describing the faith of the Israelites that was a roller coaster. He was warning the people of Corinth of the risk of a roller coaster faith. Paul warned “watch out that you do not fall” (1 Corinth 10:12). And that warning stands for us today.
Paul was certainly issuing a warning but he finished that warning with a promise that I feel is sometimes misunderstood. “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it” (I Corinth 10:13). I read this message not focusing on the testing but instead focusing on God “in testing.” I read this to mean that first, God is faithful always. In that fact, I take hope and comfort. Therefore with any and all testing that comes into our lives, God is in the midst with us so that we never have to face testing only of our own strength. But it certainly is up to each of us individually if we will turn to that support rather than trying to manage it ourselves. When we choose to follow God, there is always a way of endurance and hope.
In those Old Testament stories of disobedience, when the Israelites gave up on God and instead made their own choices in the midst of testing/trials, they failed. The Apostle Paul was hoping that the community in Corinth would learn from those mistakes. There is hope for us today to do the same with our lives.
Ahhh...we are never too old to learn from the Old Testament Stories! During this season of Lent, may each of us be digging more deeply into God’s Word so that our faithfulness may also grow.
Pastor Patti Napier