Introduction: One of the family stories my wife likes to tell is that her mother stressed to her that she liked "sameness." She did not want any changes in her life. Six weeks later, she got married and moved to a new residence. So much for "sameness." Generally, people fear change. Like my mother-in-law, they say they want "sameness." Let's dig into our study of the Bible and see what it has to teach us about changes in life and how we should evaluate them!
Read 1 Corinthians 10:1. What does God think we should know? (History! We should know what happened to our "forefathers.")
Were these forefathers in the middle of great changes in their lives?
Read 1 Corinthians 10:2-4. What is the Bible saying about the common history of these people? (That they all had a wonderful spiritual background. Christ gave them food and water and Moses gave them spiritual leadership.)
Read 1 Corinthians 10:5. What is the spiritual lesson? What should we learn? (That having a great spiritual background and training does not mean that our lives please God. We might not do well with change.)
Read 1 Corinthians 10:6. What is God saying when He refers to these things as "examples?" (The main point is that history is incredibly important in deciding how to live. There are a few things that upset me and make me worry about the future. One of those is the future of religious and economic freedom. They made our country great. Because the nations of the world are turning to religious and economic freedom, the number of people living in poverty world-wide has dropped. Yet, the younger generation in my country question both religious and economic freedom.)
Life Changes and History
Re-read 1 Corinthians 10:6. How should we use history when considering change? (History should guide our thinking. What changes need to be made, and what needs to stay the same? Biblical history should "keep us from setting our hearts on evil as they did.")
Read 1 Corinthians 10:7 and Exodus 32:5-6. What historical sin should we avoid? (The "calf" was a god made by Aaron. God's people had just seen His incredible power, and now they want to worship something Aaron made. How stupid could they be?)
None of my Christian friends have erected an idol in their backyard and worship (or trust in) it. Is this a history lesson that no longer applies?
Do we worship things that we make or purchase? (Sometimes I hear silly things. If a person has a nice car or house someone who is jealous calls those "idols." The issue is worship: whether we put our trust in those things. If those things reflect wealth, it is easy to trust wealth.)
Read 1 Corinthians 10:8 and Numbers 25:1-3. Which sin came first: idolatry or sexual immorality? (Engaging in sexual immorality with the Moabite women. It was that which led to sacrificing before false gods.)
Read Numbers 25:5. Which sin seems to bother God the most? (False worship.)
I have often said (in fact I just preached two weeks ago) that "all sin is sin." The argument is that we should not pick out certain sins and condemn them more vigorously. Am I wrong? Or, is history teaching us another lesson? (I could be wrong, and history is also teaching us another lesson. I think the history lesson is that sexual immorality leads us into other sins. In this case, God treats Baal worship as the more serious sin.)
Grumbling seems pretty obvious. What is "testing" God? (This is trying the patience of God. Doing things that make God unhappy.)
If you were with us when we studied the book of Job, you recall that Job did a lot of complaining about God. Job even asked to sue God ( Job 9:32-33), so that he could have someone arbitrate their dispute. Why does that seem to be fine, and grumbling about the food gets you killed ( 1 Corinthians 10:10)? (An obvious difference is that the wilderness grumbling was about God not taking good enough care of the people. The people kept saying that things were better when they were slaves. That insulted God. Job, on the other hand, argued that God was treating him unfairly. Job had done nothing to deserve the punishment under which he suffered. God knew that this was a reasonable complaint. Job should not have been suffering under the normal rules. The history lesson about change is that God indulges our reasonable complaints. However, we must not grumble about His blessings.)
Read 1 Corinthians 10:11-12. What warning do we find in history? (That others fell and so could we. We should not be arrogant and overconfident.)
What does this have to do with change? (We can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, withstand temptation. Our life change can (and should) be positive and not negative.)
Read Psalms 127:3-5. What is the assumption about children and protection? (If you have many sons, you will have soldiers to protect you.)
Is this still a relevant issue? (Engaging in physical battles on behalf of parents should be rare, but as parents get older children can help protect them in many other ways.)
Re-read Psalms 127:3. Children are a reward and a "heritage from the Lord." I think heritage means "inheritance" in this context. If you are a parent, in what way have you found this to be true? (My wife and I learned that our children teach us a great deal about God and His kindness to us. When our children were rebellious or disobedient, we thought about our own rebellion and disobedience towards God. It was a remarkable lesson on understanding the grace of God.)
How do children change your life? (They change it forever. They make life richer and more complicated.)
Read 1 Samuel 3:12-13. What is our obligation with regard to our children? (To restrain them. Obviously, at some point children make their own choices. However, in the case of Eli, he had authority over his sons beyond that of being their father.)
In our prior section we discussed how many sons could protect you in your old age. Read Psalms 71:9. What is one problem that we face with age? (The loss of strength.)
Read Psalms 71:18. What should be our attitude as we age and lose strength? (We should teach the next generation that power lies in the hands of our God. We can be a witness and an example of that.)
Read Psalms 71:23-24. What should be our attitude as we grow older? (To shout praises to God. Rather than grumble, we should "tell of [God's] righteous acts all day long.")
Focus on verse 24. What should we expect is the future for those who seek to harm us? ("Shame and confusion.")
I'm familiar with the theology that we should pray for confusion and defeat for our enemies. Read Job 31:29-30 and Matthew 5:43-44. How do you reconcile these texts?
Here is my history lesson: One time I decided to pray for confusion for my enemies in a religious liberty case I was arguing in federal court. When my opposing counsel entered the court, he hit his head on the metal detector and fell down. He staggered into the courtroom! He was so injured, the judge did not make him argue his case. But, the judge found (and made) even better arguments against us and dismissed our case!
Friend, when it comes to change we need to look to the lessons about how God has led in the past. We need to seek his will and cheerfully trust Him. Will you agree to make that your goal?