How To Avoid A Catastrophe

Photo by christian buehner on Unsplash

Every time there is the threat of a winter storm, or some form of bad weather, people rush to the supermarkets and buy all the milk, bread, and eggs they can get. When the Coronavirus hit America we went through what many called “Charmageddon”, or what I called “The Great Toilet Paper Rapture”. One day the markets all had toilet paper, the next day, “poof!”, it magically disappeared.

As Americans, we love to panic, lest a trial become a catastrophe! Our message tonight is “How To Avoid A Catastrophe”. We’ll be in 1 Corinthians Chapter 10.

1 Corinthians 10:1-6 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things were our examples …

Word Study: Though we today are under the New Covenant of Grace, and not the Old Covenant of the Law, what happened to Israel is just as applicable to us. What happened to Israel is called our examples. The word translated examples is the Greek τύπος týpos, {pronounced too’-pos}, which means “a pattern, formed by strokes or blows, a type, a teaching, an imprint”. The same word was used by Thomas when he doubted to resurrection of Christ, saying:

Unless I see in His hands the týpos {imprint} of the nails, and put my finger into the týpos (imprint} of the nails, I will not believe.”

Israel is not only the fulfillment of the Covenant that God made with Abraham, but is also an example we in the Church Age should examine. The Israel saved from Egypt catastrophically failed. Was it God’s fault?

No, it wasn’t. God was faithful to Israel. We are told that …

Exodus 13:21-22 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

God shepherded Israel as a Good Shepherd would do with His sheep. In verse 1 we read, all our fathers were under the cloud. God went before them as a cloud of dust by day, and a cloud of Shekinah Glorious Light by night. They clearly saw the hand of God at work. Israel passed through the sea; 2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea. The nation of Israel was under the Cloud, which was God, and were under the Sea, that is, they walked through the Red Sea as if they were on dry land. God was faithful. God watched over His people.

Furthermore, God was faithful in what they ate and drank.

1 Corinthians 10:3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat;

God gave Israel manna, or bread from Heaven:

Exodus 16:4 Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.

God also gave Israel (Numbers 11:31-32) “quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp … round about the camp, and as it were two cubits high upon the face of the earth. And the people stood up all that day, and all that night, and all the next day, and they gathered the quails

Israel had bread and meat given by God, spiritual bread and meat. Israel …

1 Corinthians 10:3-4 did all eat the same spiritual meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink

God brought water out of the Rock to quench Israel’s thirst. Paul speaks of this spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ (verse 4). The Rock that water came out of in the wilderness is symbolic of Jesus Christ, our Messiah. From Him comes “living waters”.

Revelation 7:17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters …

Idolatry Will Bring Catastrophe

1 Corinthians 10:5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

Word Study: Israel was overthrown in the wilderness. The word overthrown is the Greek καταστρώννυμι katastrṓnnymi, {pronounced kat-as-trone’-noo-mee}, which sounds much like our English “catastrophe”. The word means “to be strewn over the ground, to be scattered or laid low, to be tossed about”. Israel was a catastrophe! She was meant to be a blessing. But she was cursed. Had God fallen down on the job? No, but God was faithful. God was there. God met their every need. And yet, only two men, Joshua and Caleb, survived to enter into the Promised Land. All the rest of Israel died in the wilderness. They were overthrown!

What overthrew them? It wasn’t God. It wasn’t poor diet. It wasn’t the enemy without. It was the enemy within that destroyed Israel.

1 Corinthians 10:6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

Word Study: God’s heart was on Israel, but Israel’s heart was not on God. The word translated lusted is the Greek ἐπιθυμέω epithyméō, {pronounced ep-ee-thoo-meh’-o}, which means “to covet after or set your heart on, to long for”. When God gave the Tenth of the Ten Commandments, He said:

Romans 7:7 … Thou shalt not COVET {epithyméō}

Saved by love by a God Who loved them, Israel was freed from slavery to Egypt. We who believe in Jesus are freed from death and sin so that we might serve God. When the saved covet things rather than the God Who gives all things, we rob ourselves of the greatest of treasures. Israel was never happy – though saved from Egypt – because she was always looking backwards and coveting what she no longer had. The Scripture tells us:

Hebrews 13:5-6 Let your {way of life} be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

Israel was meant to be a nation of priests, with every person having direct access to God. But because Israel coveted things and not the God Who makes all things, their hearts kept wandering from God.

The first generation of Israel lost the promise of Canaan because they lusted for things rather than God.

1 Corinthians 10:7 Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

The Apostle is now quoting Exodus 32:6-8. Moses had been on Mount Sinai receiving the Law from God for some 40 days. At the end of this period the Scripture says:

Exodus 32:1 (ESV) When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

Aaron obliged the people. He had them contribute the jewelry that they got in Egypt – a genuine blessing from God – and used this blessing to create an idol to worship. Aaron …

Exodus 32:4-6 (ESV)received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” 6 And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.

Israel took the blessings that God gave them, and to make it religious, gave these blessings to Aaron the High Priest to transform into an idol. Why did Aaron make a “golden calf”? Hope Bolinger notes at

Why was the chosen symbol a calf? Bull and calfs were a traditional animal sacrifice in that time and symbolized strength and fertility. Many gods in Egypt were fashioned after bulls, so the golden calf was a natural choice for the Israelites coming out of Egypt. The golden calf represented God’s power for having delivered the Israelites from Egypt.”

After the calf was made, Aaron called a “Feast Day” or a day of celebration for this new and present “god”. God allowed Israel to build this calf, then sent Moses down the mountain to address the problem.

Exodus 32:7-10 (ESV) And the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” 9 And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. 10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.”

Had Moses not interceded for the people, praying that God not destroy them, Israel would have been wiped out. When Moses came down the mountain:

Exodus 32:19-20 (ESV) as soon as {Moses} came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. 20 He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it.

They were made to drink the powdered idol and water. The Golden Calf was not the true God, but a god of the imagination. Eating the “flesh” and drinking the “blood” of this idol did nothing to save the people, for no made up God can save us. When Jesus came to this earth, He used the imagery of eating Himself to be saved.

John 6:53-58 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

The Golden Calf had no power in it to protect the people of God, nor to save the Soul. Only Jesus does. The Golden Calf, though pretty, is but an idol. But Jesus Christ, He is the Rock that blessed Israel with life.

Exodus 32:26 … then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him.

The Levites came to Moses, and the rest of Israel refused to repent, Moses and the Levites killed 3000 people that day, until Israel repented of their evil, and turned their hearts back to God.

Let GOD Be Your Portion, Not The Flesh,
And Avoid Catastrophe

Years later, King David would assign Worship Leaders to lead the Tabernacle Choir (1 Chronicles 6:31-32). One of these men was Asaph (1 Chronicles 6:39). Asaph would write a song in which he describes how his heart was once lusting after the things of the world – until he discovered the greatness of fellowship with God. Asaph wrote:

Psalm 73:22-28 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee. 23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. 24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. 26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. 27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring from thee. 28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.

After discussing the dangers of idolatry, the Apostle addresses the dangers of the flesh. We read:

1 Corinthians 10:8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.

People in America today think little of sexual sin. By most worldly standards, after three dates the young man and woman will fornicate, that is, have sex outside of marriage. Many people think, “What’s the harm? You’re adults. It’s good for the cardio-vascular system”.

In the ancient world sex was often used to attract converts to the various idolatrous religions. In Numbers chapter 25 the Moabite women invited Israel to “worship” Baal of Peor, a false god that encouraged orgies. Some of Israel – and a large part of their leadership – decided to go to the festival and worship Baal-Peor. God had the leaders of the revolt “hung in the sun” (Numbers 25:4). God then caused a plague to fall of Israel. We are told:

Numbers 25:9 (ESV) … those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.

Sexual sin was used to draw people away from a right relationship with God. Sexual sin also brought about a horrible plague, a plague God sent. Moses tells us that the total number of people who died was 24,000, but Paul tells us that 23,000 died in one day! Sexual sin is nothing to tolerate. It destroyed Israel, and can destroy the Church.

1 Corinthians 10:9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

How did Israel tempt Christ? Remember, the Rock that followed Israel was Christ. It was the preincarnate Messiah Who was with Israel. After the Lord Christ gave Israel manna in the wilderness, and water out of the rock, the Bible says:

Numbers 21:5 (ESV) … the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.”

Israel had plenty to eat. They had no lack of nourishment. It was just that they no longer wanted to eat manna nor quail. They wanted more variety in their diet. Rather than ask the Lord for variety (for I am sure He would have given it) they spoke against God and against Moses. They called what the Lord gave them worthless or “contemptible”. Since they blasphemed the gifts of Christ with their MOUTHS, God sent “fiery serpents” into the camp to bite the people. Whoever they bit, died. When the people repented, God told Moses to “make a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived” (Numbers 21:9). Jesus would later – once incarnate – relate this even to His Cross.

John 3:14-15 (ESV) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

There is life in looking at Christ, just as there is life in looking at the bronze serpent. God’s people are not to murmur and complain about the gifts that Jesus has given us. We are to praise our Lord, and thank Him for being in our lives.

1 Corinthians 10:10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the Destroyer.

Murmuring and complaining causes God to withdraw His hand of love, His sustaining hand, and brought death into Israel. Numbers chapter 16 tells us that 14,700+ died in Israel, being destroyed of the Destroyer. Who is the Destroyer? Is it the “Grim Reaper?” No. The Destroyer is an angel assigned by God to take life. The Lord controls the Destroyer (2 Samuel 24:16; 1 Chronicles 21:15). On the first night of the Passover, Moses told Israel:

Exodus 12:23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

Our God is in control! We do not need to murmur, but should pray, seeking God’s power and glory in our lives. We were given lips to praise the Lord, hands to serve the Lord, feet to walk with the Lord, and hearts to follow the Lord. We desperately need the Lord! The Lord is our Portion, our Love our Savior forever.

What Is The End Of The Matter?

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

We do not stand in our power. We stand in the power of God. The Apostle tells us that, if tempted, we are to run into the arms of God! We are to pursue the Lord Jesus in prayer and supplication. God is to be our portion forever. Temptations will come. Temptations come from three sources:

The world around us
Demons and principalities
The flesh itself

The world, the devil and his cohorts, and our very own flesh. When tempted, we do not seek false gods. When tempted, we do not murmur and complain. When tempted, we do not succumb to the temptation, particularly if it is sexual temptation. If tempted, we run into the arms of Jesus!

1 Corinthians 10:14 Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

We remember that we are God’s Beloved, His cherished Possession, and God is our Portion. We run from anything or anyone that would keep us from our Lord Christ. May God drive this Word deeply into your hearts! Amen and Amen.

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
This entry was posted in 1 Corinthians, Sermons Preached and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.