In this passage, Paul compares Christians to the people whom Moses led. Here, the reference is to Numbers 21:4-9.
Those people tested God. In other words, they tried to force God to do what they wanted. In Numbers 21:5, they even protested about the food that God had provided for them. They complained against God and against Moses. Also, they accused God of wrong behaviour. They said that God had taken them out of Egypt in order to kill them in the desert.
When they said these things, the people were testing God. They thought that they could control him. They were trying to force him to give them the things that they wanted. However, they did not get what they wanted. Instead, the result was that they suffered a terrible punishment.
God still cared about his people. He saved them from that punishment. The method that he used to save them teaches us about Christ (John 3:14-15).
Paulís lesson for Christians here is that they must not test God (Deuteronomy 6:16). 1 Corinthians 8:10 give an example of how a Christian may test God. A Christian who chooses to enter the house of a false god should not expect any special protection from God. He should not enter a place where the desire to do wrong things is so strong. If God has not sent him, he should not go into any such place. He must not protest that he has the right to go anywhere. Perhaps he even has that right - but still, his duties to God are more important.
Please use the links at the top of the page to find our other articles in this series. You can download all our articles if you go to the download page for our free 450 page course book.
© 2014, Keith Simons.