The Warnings From History Of Israelites!

warnings from history of the Israelites

 

The Great Parallels Of Warnings From History Of Israelites

 

Numbers chapter 11 is one of the most fascinating and informative chapters on the history of the Israelites. It tells the story of the 38 years of Israel wandering in the Wilderness. And the next several chapters have as their theme complaining, lack of faith, and outright rebellion. Even more, they record the SEVERE punishments that the Lord responded with for these outrages against Him.

 

This section of the Torah also seemed to fascinate the Apostle Paul. He referred extensively to the Book of Numbers in his writings, particularly when he was writing and speaking to the Corinthians.

 

Apparently, he saw significant parallels between the behavior and condition of those Corinthians, Jew, and Gentile, who had come to believe in Christ and those Israelites who trekked around the wilderness of the desert reaches of the Middle East, mostly south of Beer-Sheva, 13 centuries before his day.

 

Let’s prepare for this section of Numbers by reading a bit of what Paul had to say when he compared the Christians of Corinth to the Israelites of the Exodus by reading 1 Corinthians 10:1-12

 

For we must never forget, dear brothers, what happened to our people in the wilderness long ago. God guided them by sending a cloud that moved along ahead of them; and he brought them all safely through the waters of the Red Sea. This might be called their “baptism”—baptized both in sea and cloud!—as followers of Moses—their commitment to him as their leader. And by a miracle God sent them food to eat and water to drink there in the desert; they drank the water that Christ gave them. He was there with them as a mighty Rock of spiritual refreshment. Yet after all this most of them did not obey God, and he destroyed them in the wilderness.
 
From this lesson we are warned that we must not desire evil things as they did, nor worship idols as they did. (The Scriptures tell us, “The people sat down to eat and drink and then got up to dance” in worship of the golden calf.)
 
Another lesson for us is what happened when some of them sinned with other men’s wives, and 23,000 fell dead in one day. And don’t try the Lord’s patience—they did and died from snake bites. And don’t murmur against God and his dealings with you as some of them did, for that is why God sent his Angel to destroy them.
 
All these things happened to them as examples—as object lessons to us—to warn us against doing the same things; they were written down so that we could read about them and learn from them in these last days as the world nears its end.
 
So be careful. If you are thinking, “Oh, I would never behave like that”—let this be a warning to you. For you too may fall into sin.

 

The Torah issues many serious warnings to those who would follow the God of Israel; Paul, a well-educated Jewish Rabbi, completely understood this and realized that, of course, the advent of Christ does not change that situation. Disobedience towards God, even with redemption accomplished, does not somehow immunize a Believer against the possibility of divine punishment.

 

Paul writes in Romans 15 what is perhaps the foundation of all of his teachings: “…….whatever  written in the former days was written for our instruction…..” What was written in the old days is referring to the Hebrew Bible, the Tanach, what we call the Old Testament. Or in a more general sense to whatever written before the advent of the Lord.

 

Paul’s point of what we just read in 1 Corinthians 10 is this: if God dealt severely with His set-apart and chosen people, Israel, why would you think He will not deal harshly with His set-apart and chosen people in union with the Lord? Are those who we commonly call “the church” no longer subject to God’s righteous anger?

 

The first few verses of 1 Corinthians 10 set up the parallel situation: those who traversed the Wilderness were ALL immersed in Moses (which is shorthand for “the Covenant of Moses”).

 

In other words, they were ALL redeemed, and they were ALL under God’s Covenant. They ALL received the same Spirit; they all were filled up with the Living Water of the Rock. Then Paul throws in this shocking reminder: despite their redemption and personal relationship with God, many of them did not survive when God strewed their rebellious bodies across the desert.

 

His conclusion as to what this means to followers of Jesus Christ is in 1 Corinthians 10:11.

 

All these things happened to them as examples—as object lessons to us—to warn us against doing the same things; they were written down so that we could read about them and learn from them in these last days as the world nears its end.

 

Now frankly the majority of Christian denominations allegorize this away by explaining that it’s a warning about things that cannot possibly happen to true Believers.

 

A common theme among Christians today is that the God of the Old Testament is no more; or more accurately that He has fundamentally changed such that there is no more severity (even though Paul says so in Romans 11); there is no more punishment of sins and rebellion for the Believer (even though the Lord says so in Matthew 7:21.

 

 “Not all who sound religious are really godly people. They may refer to me as ‘Lord,’ but still won’t get to heaven. For the decisive question is whether they obey my Father in heaven. At the Judgment many will tell me, ‘Lord, Lord, we told others about you and used your name to cast out demons and to do many other great miracles.’ But I will reply, ‘You have never been mine. Go away, for your deeds are evil.’’

 

No, says Paul and the Lord, this is not a hollow warning, a toothless threat. My brethren hear me: this is another of those Christian doctrines that please us to hear it because it removes all repercussions for our decisions and our behavior, but it has no Scriptural basis.

 

Rather what we are protected from is what the Bible alternately calls “the wages of sin” (spiritual death) and “the curse of the Law” (which is also spiritual death) that are two phrases meaning the same thing. They are one in the same only the former is stated in New Testament terms and the other in Old Testament times.

 

Do you still believe that God no longer has a severe side? Or that being in Christ somehow pardons you from being disciplined or punished (in the sense of receiving Godly or natural consequences) for your sinning? Oh, of course, you are pardoned from the eternal death PROVIDED you do not renounce your allegiance to the Lord by your free will. But to be immune from God’s mortal justice is nowhere known in the NT anymore than in the Old.

 

Let’s read a little more of Paul in Romans 11: 13-22; a section of the New Testament that is frequently jumped over or allegorized away in modern times.

 

As you know, God has appointed me as a special messenger to you Gentiles. I lay great stress on this and remind the Jews about it as often as I can, so that if possible I can make them want what you Gentiles have and in that way save some of them. And how wonderful it will be when they become Christians! When God turned away from them it meant that he turned to the rest of the world to offer his salvation; and now it is even more wonderful when the Jews come to Christ. It will be like dead people coming back to life.
 
And since Abraham and the prophets are God’s people, their children will be too. For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be too.

 
But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree, some of the Jews, have been broken off. And you Gentiles who were branches from, we might say, a wild olive tree, were grafted in. So now you, too, receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in God’s rich nourishment of his own special olive tree.
 
But you must be careful not to brag about being put in to replace the branches that were broken off. Remember that you are important only because you are now a part of God’s tree; you are just a branch, not a root.
 
“Well,” you may be saying, “those branches were broken off to make room for me, so I must be pretty good.”
 
Watch out! Remember that those branches, the Jews, were broken off because they didn’t believe God, and you are there only because you do. Do not be proud; be humble and grateful—and careful. For if God did not spare the branches he put there in the first place, he won’t spare you either.
 
Notice how God is both kind and severe. He is very hard on those who disobey, but very good to you if you continue to love and trust him. But if you don’t, you too will be cut off.

 

Paul teaches that (as has always been) God is severe, and He is kind. He is kind to those who trust and obey, He is severe to those who fall away and rebel. God’s essential nature has not changed. Remember Paul is talking to Gentile BELIEVERS specifically and in general Jewish folks. He is talking to you and me so we cannot pretend this is not for us.

 

So what we are going to study in Numbers over the next several blog posts sets down the fundamental principles that guided Paul in his life and are reflected in his epistles that are the basis for what should be church doctrine, yet often is not.

 

References

http://www.torahclass.com/old-testament-studies/37-old-testament-studies-numbers/206-lesson-12-chapter11

 

 

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