I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. All of them ate the same spiritual food, and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.1 Corinthians 10:1-5
Paul’s mind is like a steel trap. He doesn’t forget his train of thought. He doesn’t forget where he was up to and what he was on about. But he does insert other things and go off on a side thought at times only to come back again to the main flow. With Paul and other Bible writers you have to have your wits about you in order to understand them. Keep the big picture in mind. Look beyond the paragraph you are focused on. Look for links of thought. Look for patterns, repetition of certain elements, changes to those patterns, subtle little things that give you the clues to what is going on.
Here then are the clues and I will then leave you again to ponder them and put them together.
- Notice Paul was talking about being all things to all people (1 Cor 9:20-23). Well there it is again in 1 Cor 10:33. “I, too, try to please everyone in everything I do. I don’t just do what is best for me; I do what is best for others so that many may be saved.”
- Look for repetition. I have told you before repetition as it is used by Hebrew speakers indicates emphasis. Note how he has repeated some elements.
- Notice how Paul has referred twice to these things being examples.
- 1 Cor 10:6 Now these things became examples for us so that we won’t set our hearts on evil as they did.
- 1 Cor 10:11 These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down as a warning for us in whom the climax of the ages has been realized.
Notice the pattern of repetition again in the elements “as they did”, “as some of them did”
- 1 Cor 10:6 – “so that we won’t set our hearts on evil as they did.”
- 1 Cor 10:7 “Let us stop being idolaters, as some of them were”
- 1 Cor 10:8 “Let us stop sinning sexually, as some of them were doing”
- 1 Cor 10:9 “Let us stop putting the Lord to the test, as some of them were doing”
- 1 Cor 10:10 “You must stop complaining, as some of them were doing”
Ponder these things. Does this help you solve the seeming dilemma of where Paul is going with this? Why he seems to be lost in the wilderness? Does it connect with anything that has gone before? Do you see the wood for the trees now?
We will start pulling it apart tomorrow.
It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well.Rene Descartes
Everyone has a photographic memory. Some don’t have film.Ian Vail
A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.Edward R. Murrow