Summary: In week one we looked at the example of Jesus. In week two we looked at the example of Paul. Today, we'll see that it's not only the good examples we can learn from but the bad examples too.
SETTING A GOOD EXAMPLE (part three)
We have learned from the good examples of Jesus and Paul and we learned some ways that we can be good examples. However, it's not just the good examples we can learn from; we can learn from the bad examples too.
On September 19, 1997, a drivers-ed teacher gave a lesson he would like to forget. The teacher had one student at the wheel and another in the back when a car suddenly cut them off. The teacher went into a road rage. He ordered the student driver to pursue the other car. When the car pulled over, the teacher got out and went over and punched the driver in the face. The bloodied driver pulled away.
Amazingly, that wasn't enough for the drivers-ed teacher. He again ordered the student to pursue the car. Eventually the police pulled the drivers-ed car over for speeding, and the motorist with the bloody nose circled back to report what had happened. The drivers-ed teacher was arrested and charged with assault. He was later suspended from his job.
Obviously, this was not a good example of a drivers-ed teacher. As there are bad examples in the world, there are bad examples in the bible too. Although there are many we could look at, I'm going to focus on the ones Paul talked about in 1st Cor. 10.
The Israelites were bad examples.
1st Cor. 10:1-13, "For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized 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 over the desert. 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 pagan 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 the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it."
In the first four verses you have some interesting phrases. 'Baptized into Moses' and 'drank from the spiritual rock, which was Christ'. Rather than get into the exegesis of all that, I'm just going to focus on the main thing Paul was communicating; that the Israelites were God's people in the OT, just like we Christians are God's people of the NT. Paul wants them to realize this so that what came next would register. As we see in vs. five, 'yet God was not pleased with most of them'. So, even though they were God's people, that didn't mean they could do whatever they wanted and God would be okay with it.
Then in vs. 6 and then again in vs. 11 Paul states that these things serve as examples and warnings. So Paul sets up what he is about to say in vs. 6 and then restates it for emphasis in vs. 11. Therefore, everything in verses 7-10 is meant for the Corinthians to take seriously the examples of bad behavior as well as God's response to their bad behavior. Which is why he warned them in verse 12 to be careful that they didn't fall.
Paul lists four things the Israelites did as bad examples. Let's look at them and see how they apply to us today. Vs. 7-When Moses was up on the mountain in the presence of God for 40 days and nights, the Israelites got a little panicked. They thought perhaps Moses wasn't coming back. What did they do about it?
Exodus 32:1-6, "When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.”