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Warnings from Israel’s History


I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same spiritual food, 4and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them, and they were struck down in the wilderness.

6 Now these things occurred as examples for us, so that we might not desire evil as they did. 7Do not become idolaters as some of them did; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and they rose up to play.” 8We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by serpents. 10And do not complain as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11These things happened to them to serve as an example, and they were written down to instruct us, on whom the ends of the ages have come. 12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from the worship of idols. 15I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a sharing in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? 19What do I imply then? That food sacrificed to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. 21You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22Or are we provoking the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

Do All to the Glory of God

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24Do not seek your own advantage, but that of the other. 25Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience, 26for “the earth and its fullness are the Lord’s.” 27If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, out of consideration for the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience— 29I mean the other’s conscience, not your own. For why should my liberty be subject to the judgment of someone else’s conscience? 30If I partake with thankfulness, why should I be denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 32Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, so that they may be saved.

8. Neither let us commit fornication Now he speaks of fornication, in respect of which, as appears from historical accounts, great licentiousness prevailed among the Corinthians, and we may readily infer from what goes before, that those who had professed themselves to be Christ’s were not yet altogether free from this vice. The punishment of this vice, also, ought to alarm us, and lead us to bear in mind, how loathsome impure lusts are to God, for there perished in one day twenty-three thousand, or as Moses says, twenty-four. Though they differ as to number, it is easy to reconcile them, as it is no unusual thing, when it is not intended to number exactly and minutely each head, 546546     “De faire vn denombrement entier des personnes par testes, comme on dit;” — “To make a complete enumeration of persons by heads, as they say.” to put down a number that comes near it, as among the Romans there were those that received the name of Centumviri, 547547     Les juges qui estoyent deputez pour cognoistre des matieres ciuiles, estoyent nommez les cent, et toutes lois il yen auoit deux par dessus;” — “The judges who were deputed to take cognizance of civil matters were called The Hundred, and yet there were two above the hundred.” As the Centumviri were chosen out of the thirty-five tribes, into which the Roman people were divided, three from each tribe, they consisted properly of 105 persons. — Ed. (The Hundred,) while in reality there were two above the hundred. As there were, therefore, about twenty-four thousand that were overthrown by the Lord’s hand — that is, above twenty-three, Moses has set down the number above the mark, and Paul, the number below it, and in this way there is in reality no difference. This history is recorded in Numbers 25:9

There remains, however, one difficulty here — why it is that Paul attributes this punishment to fornication, while Moses relates that the anger of God was aroused against the people on this account — that they had initiated themselves in the sacred rites of Baalpeor. 548548     “Auoit sacrifie a Baalpheor;” — “Had sacrificed to Baalpeor.” But as the defection began with fornication, and the children of Israel fell into that impiety, not so much from being influenced by religious considerations, 549549     “Non pas tant pour affection qu’ils eussent a la fausse religion;” — “Not so much from any attachment that they had to a false religion.” as from being allured by the enticements of harlots, everything evil that followed from it ought to be attributed to fornication. For Balaam had given this counsel, that the Midianites should prostitute their daughters to the Israelites, with the view of estranging them from the true worship of God. Nay more, their excessive blindness, in allowing themselves to be drawn into impiety 550550     “Vne impiete si vileine;” — “An impiety so base.” by the enticements of harlots, was the punishment of lust. Let us learn, accordingly, that fornication is no light offense, which was punished on that occasion by God so severely and indeed in a variety of ways.

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