We are blessed! You hear many people say that statement, but I wonder how often we as Christians take the time to realize just how blessed we are. It is something the nation of Israel forgot from time to time, and it was something the Corinthian church had forgotten as well. As Paul opens this chapter, he gives us an Old Testament lesson. Paul opens with a familiar phrase, “I would not that ye should be ignorant.” This is Paul saying, “I don’t want you to forget this.” He says “all our fathers.” The word “all” is important. In this instance it is a reference to the entire nation of Israel. Paul is reminding them of their blessings.
The first blessing Paul mentions is that they were under the cloud. This is a reference to the shekinah glory cloud mentioned in Exodus 13. As Pharaoh let Israel leave Egypt, God symbolized His presence with them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night according to Exodus 13:21. In Exodus 14 we learn that the cloud was in front of them as well as behind them. This demonstrates that the children of Israel were surrounded by God, which meant they were divinely protected. As long as the cloud remained in front of them it also symbolized that God was leading the nation of Israel. The nation of Israel had a special relationship with God, they are still God’s people although they have been temporarily set aside because of their rejection of Jesus.
The second blessing Paul mentions is that they all pass through the sea. This is a reference to the Red Sea crossing. Among other things, the Red Sea crossing reminds us that as long as we are following God, He will provide the way even when there doesn’t seem to be a way. What a valuable lesson for Christians and churches to learn. Follow God and He will provide. Trust in the sovereignty of God that He will not lead us somewhere that He has not already provided for us what we need.
The next blessing is that of godly leadership in verse 2. Israel was led by God through Moses. If there is one thing that is invaluable in churches it is godly leadership. The other place it is so vital is in the home. The man must rise up and fulfill his God-given task of leading his family to the cross and to become more like Christ.
The final blessing given is in verses 3 and 4. It is the blessing of physical and spiritual provision. God supplies everything we need (see Mt. 6:24-33 and Phil. 4:19). A blessing that we enjoy is not having to worry about our needs or the needs of our family, because God has promised to provide for them.
After giving a listing of some blessings Israel enjoyed, Paul makes a stunning statement in verse 5, “But with many of them God was not well pleased.” Despite their many blessings, the nation of Israel constantly complained and willfully disobeyed God. The story Paul is alluding to here is found in Numbers 14. It is when 12 spies were sent into Canaan. 10 of them came back and told all the reasons they couldn’t inhabit the land God promised them. Only two of them (Joshua and Caleb) told the reason they could have the land, God promised it to them. Like many of us today, the nation of Israel despite seeing God’s hand of blessing and provision, they chose to listen and give in to their fears rather than have faith in God. As the end of verse 5 says, because of this disobedience they fell in the wilderness.
When was the last time you took stock of your blessings? It is so easy to get so busy that we forget to take time to thank God for His many blessings. It is one reason that at Westlake Baptist, we take a moment each worship service to sing “praise God from whom all blessings flow.” Let Israel and the church at Corinth serve as a lesson for us all. Don’t forfeit your blessings because of fear and unbelief. Trust in the God who has delivered you out of slavery to sin, who is leading you to the Promised Land of heaven, and who continuously and graciously provides for you.
By His grace and through His strength may we live for Him