Summary: The exodus is a type of our salvation, and the wilderness wanderings serve to warn us against presumptuousness.
BAPTISM AND COMMUNION IN THE WILDERNESS
1. The continuity of Israel and the Church.
The Apostle Paul, a ‘Hebrew of the Hebrews’ (Philippians 3:5), refers to the Gentile and Jewish Christians at Corinth as “brethren” (1 Corinthians 10:1) - thereby indicating the solidarity of all true Christians. Furthermore, he refers to all “our” fathers (1 Corinthians 10:1), thus demonstrating the continuity of Israel and the New Testament community of believers. [The Church is ‘grafted in’ to old Israel (Romans 11:17-18) - but God still has a plan and purpose for the nation of Israel (Romans 11:23-24).]
The fathers were all “under the cloud” - the guiding presence of the Holy Spirit - and all passed (dry-shod) “through the sea” (1 Corinthians 10:1). Thus they were all “baptised into Moses” (1 Corinthians 10:2): but they failed to follow through on their commitment. Baptism is not an end in itself, and those who are baptised ‘into Jesus Christ’ are thereby indicating their willingness to follow Him wherever He will lead (Romans 6:3-4).
The “food” that the fathers all ate (1 Corinthians 10:3), and the “drink” that they all drank (1 Corinthians 10:4) - was at the same time both natural [real physical bread, real physical water], and something beyond the natural [manna from heaven, water from the “Rock” (1 Corinthians 10:4).]
In a similar way, the unleavened bread of the Communion is still bread, and the fruit of the vine is still wine: but for the Christian participation in this simple and symbolic meal goes beyond the ordinary to the extraordinary, beyond the physical to the spiritual, beyond the natural to the supernatural.
4. Jesus is the Rock.
The wilderness may be hard, but Jesus is the “Rock” from whom we receive nourishment for the journey (1 Corinthians 10:4). Jesus is the ‘Rock’ at the beginning of the journey (Exodus 17:6). Jesus is the ‘Rock’ towards journey’s end - where even Moses failed (Numbers 20:8-12).
5. Overthrown in the wilderness.
Of those who left Egypt under Moses, only two entered the promised Land: the rest fell in the wilderness (1 Corinthians 10:5). We may well be baptised Christians, and partake of Communion regularly: but with some of us, too, the Lord might be displeased.
Five specific sins are mentioned:
“lusting after evil things” (1 Corinthians 10:6);
“immorality” (1 Corinthians 10:8);
“tempting Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:9);
“murmuring against the Lord” (1 Corinthians 10:10).
6. Take heed.
These things are recorded as a warning to us, “upon whom the end of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11). In other words, the Lord had us in mind when he ‘spoke through the prophets’ (1 Peter 1:12).
The exodus is a ‘type’ of our salvation, and the wilderness wanderings serve to warn us against presumptuousness. “Let the man who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).