1Corinthians 10:5-10 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be you idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur you, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.
‘Play’ This is why worship was carried on in groves or high places where trees were planted – places of seclusion (Ex. 34:13; Deut. 7:5; 12:3; 16:21; Jdg. 3:7; 6:25-30; 1Kin. 14:15, 23; 15:13; 16:33; 18:19; 2Kin. 13:6; 17:10, 16; 2Chron. 17:6; 19:3; 24:18; 31:1; 33:3, 19; 34:3-7; Isa. 17:8; 27:9; Jer. 17:2; Mic. 5:14). This is how the priests of idols made their living, as is still practiced in many pagan countries. The children of Israel may have explored the depths of such idolatry because the Lord said they had “corrupted themselves” (Ex. 32:7). If so, not only were the two commandments regarding other gods and idolatry broken (Ex. 20:1-6), but also taking God’s name in vain (Ex. 20:7), dishonouring parents (Ex. 20:12), adultery (Ex. 20:14), lying (Ex. 20:16), and coveting (Ex. 20:17). Actually, Israel had sunk so low in sin and moral depravity during these days of the absence of Moses that God was literally ready to destroy the whole nation! He promised to do so and to raise up another nation from the seed of Moses if Moses would be willing. However, Moses interceded for the nation until God changed His mind and spared the people. If Moses had accepted this, God’s plan for Israel to occupy Canaan would have been postponed indefinitely and the fulfilment of many prophecies would have been delayed. God hates idolatry and immorality and is determined to rid the earth of them.
‘Fell in one day three and twenty thousand.’ There were 23,000 who died in the plague, but also many leaders whose heads were hung up before the Lord, making 24,000 in all (Num. 25:1-9).
‘Christ’ – some texts read Lord. Even if Christ is to be understood it would be in harmony with the fact that He is also called Jehovah in the Old Testament (Gen. 19:24). The Divine Trinity was working together to lead Israel out of Egypt, so the person we now know as Jesus Christ existed then (Mic. 5:2; John 1:1-2; Heb. 1:8; Rev. 1:8-11).
‘Tempted’ – Eight of the many ways to tempt God: Murmuring (10:6; Ex. 17:2). Unbelief (Ex. 17:7; Heb. 4:1-11). Rebellion (Num. 14:22; 21:1-9). Provoking God (Ps. 78:17-18, 56). Backsliding (Ps. 78:41, 56). Hardening the heart (Ps. 95:8-9). Lust and sin (Ps. 106:14; Ex. 32:1-35). Idolatry (10:6, 18-22).
To be continued…