You know those days when you read something you have read time and time again and it hits you in a totally different way? That’s today.
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.
1 Corinthians 10:1
That’s it…it was staggering. I had read those words before, but never heard them that way. It’s usually verse 13 that folks focus in on, but this was profound. They were ALL under the cloud…they ALL passed through the sea. Not different seas…the same sea. You might say “DUH! It was the Red Sea, lady!” Yes, it was- but it’s so much bigger than that.
If you read on, Paul reminded the people that the Israelites all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink…and that drink came from the same rock -Christ (v3). Regardless, they still messed up! In verses 6-10 Paul gives examples of various temptations they fell to and how they were punished as a result. “Do not be idolaters…do not commit sexual immorality…do not test the Lord…do not grumble.” They were all under the same cloud…passing through the same waters- but SOME of them fell to these temptations and some didn’t. The ones who did were punished. There were consequences.
It’s usually verse 13 that people commit to memory:
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.
It’s one that I have committed to memory, too. To me, it means that we are all exposed to the same stimulus (sorry, Psych minor) yet we don’t all respond the same way to the same stimulus. For instance, we are all exposed to sexually explicit images in marketing these days. Some are deeply affected by it and have to make a conscious effort to guard their eyes and some can just walk past and not think twice. Some can smell alcohol and it’s a sweet nectar that they cannot refuse…to others, it’s a disgusting smell that rivals the urine of a horse. It’s all the same stuff…the same temptations. Some are seemingly unaffected and some find it hard to resist.
We are all passing through the same sea; Under the same cloud.
When I read this today, it was in the context of being a Christian. We are all under the same cloud…that column of smoke that led these people through the desert…the Holy Spirit. We all sit under His authority and are led by the Spirit. Even as Christians, some fall to certain temptations that others don’t. But, it is not without consequence.
In verse 12 there is a warning.
So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
Just because you are a Christian…just because you have given your heart and soul to the Lord…just because you go to church and sit under an excellent Pastor…just because you follow the Word closely and pray daily…just because you attend a few Bible studies in the course of the week…doesn’t mean that you are exempt from temptation. (If anything, Satan will turn up the heat a notch or two.) If you think that your Christian walk is strong, believe that you are exempt from temptation and your guard is down- you are in danger. All Christians have an Egypt that we have been delivered from. On the journey, some are tempted by old habits and strongholds that have not yet been surrendered. We are being refined…we are becoming…we all are tempted. Temptations come in all forms…a knee length dress, a scrumptious piece of chocolate cake, a scent, a song, an unnecessary purchase when the money is tight because “it will make me feel better”, a chance encounter with a friend who is still knee deep in old habits, a drink, a magazine, a male friend who will lend you an ear when your hubby is not available, a friend who whispers in your ear that “you deserve better”, a juicy piece of gossip or a flashing icon on the sidebar of a computer monitor. The scripture says “When you ARE tempted”-and you will be- you will have the opportunity to take the bait or flee from it.
GOD IS FAITHFUL! Praise the Lord that we always have a way out when we are tempted. We just have to choose it.
Romans 3:23 reminds us ” for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God“. Please remember this…On Sunday, you may be sitting in a row with ten other people- each with a different thorn in their side. If temptation turns to sin, God deals with each of us and there are consequences. Be careful not to judge a person because their sin has a different name than yours. We are all under the same cloud: brothers and sisters in Christ. We all walk through the same sea. If your friend’s foot should happen to turn and slip while walking through that sea- grab their hand and lead them on. I would hope to receive the same grace and mercy; the same helping hand from my friend should it happen to me. Regardless of the temptation that caused me to stumble.
This is a picture I took as a storm was moving in. The dark cloud and the brilliant white cloud are so close in proximity…and there’s only a thin strip of blue sky in the middle. There is not a lot of “wiggle room” on the straight and narrow. One step in either direction makes a big difference.