Learning from the example 

Published 11:56 am Monday, September 25, 2023

Examples are for our benefit. My mother, who is a math teacher, will work out math problems for her students as a means to illustrate some mathematical property, so they then have a combination of oral and written instructions to better assist them in retaining the lesson.     

In 1 Corinthians chapter 10, the Apostle Paul is giving instructions to the church at Corinth, and says, “Now these things happened as examples for.” The example is the history of Israel as is recorded in Exodus.    

Israel had been in bondage for 400 years to the Egyptians. God sent Moses to lead the people out from the heavy hand of the Pharaoh. Shortly after the Exodus from Egypt, Israel came to the Red Sea and found themselves trapped by the sea and the army of Egypt. Pharaoh had changed his mind about letting the Hebrews go free and the Egyptians were in pursuit. God worked a miracle by parting the sea, allowing the Israelites to pass through on dry ground. Egypt was then a distant memory as Israel was liberated from their oppression. Not only did God part the sea, but Jehovah God also provided manna for the Israelites to eat for 40 years, water to drink, meat to eat and the first GPS—a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. God made a way for His people.        

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One would have thought that Israel, after experiencing so many mighty works of the Lord, would have been faithful to walk with and obey the Lord God Jehovah. Yet, that was not the case. During a stay at Mount Sinai, when Moses was away seeking God, the people came to Aaron and asked him to “make them a god that will go before us…” (Ex. 32:1). Aaron collected some articles of gold from the people, melted them down and fashioned a golden calf. This golden calf was set before the people as the god they were to serve. Aaron then proclaimed a feast for this image and told the people to give offerings to the golden statue. This was idolatry, which they had been forbidden to engage in. It displeased God and many of the people suffered greatly because of it.        

Fast forward, and we read about the time Moses sent 12 spies into the Promised Land to gather intel on the area. Upon their return, they gave a report of what they discovered in the land. It was a land with abundance but the cities were fortified. Ten of the spies then gave a negative report, saying they could not take the land. Only two believed they, with the help of the Lord, were well able to take the land. 

Israel rebelled against the idea of going into the land which God had promised them. Because of their rebellion, they wandered 40 years in the wilderness and those who were 20 years old and older at the time would die in the wilderness. The only three people over 20 years of age who lived were Joshua, Caleb and Moses. The people had disobeyed God and their rebellious actions had consequences.        

In the example Paul provided to the Corinthians,  Israel had rebelled and engaged in idolatry and suffered for it as it displeased God. Paul wanted the congregation in Corinth to learn from the example and not repeat the same mistakes.        

Learning from an example sounds so simple. Yet, how many times do we fail in this endeavor? Think of the mistakes, heartaches, pain, suffering and misery that could have been avoided if people had learned from the example of parents, friends, family members or church folks who tried to impart teaching and instructions to them. There are a plethora of examples around us, the best one being Scripture, but how many of us truly and genuinely grasp hold of and learn from these examples?  Commit today to do this—your life will be richer and more peaceful because of what you learn.