1 Corinthians 10:1,5- Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea…But with most of them, God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
I’ve been a Christian for over a half-century. I know I have some of you wondering how old I really am, but suffice it to say, I’ve been walking in the way for a long time. Even now, after all of these years, I have a difficult time understanding people. As I was meditating on the Lord it got me wondering how we can all live in this world, see the majestic beauty of the earth, and experience the grace of God, and yet some still reject Him!
Paul, in writing to the Church at Corinth, started this particular section of his letter by stating he didn’t want us ignorant concerning what happened when Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt. In essence, he was sharing a well-known event with them to make a point that I believe needs to be made today.
Paul said that all of our ancestors (those who were in Egypt) were under the cloud:
And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.Exodus 13:21-22 NKJV
The cloud of God’s glory was present for all to see. Throughout the day the cloud led everyone away from Egypt, bondage, and their past. The pillar of cloud led them all to a brighter hope, a better tomorrow. And at night, the pillar of fire was there giving them light and assurance that God was still with them. Paul said that all who left Egypt experienced this miracle.
Then Paul said that all, that means everybody passed through the sea. When the waters parted, none was left behind. They all crossed over.
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.Exodus 14:21-22 NKJV
Passing through the Red Sea should have been a deal maker between the children of Israel and God. Once they stepped into the river bed that was dry, they should have rushed to the other side to give God their undivided devotion. Yet, their praise, heartfelt and spontaneous, didn’t seal their commitment.
All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink.1 Corinthians 10:3-4 NKJV
Paul is referring to the eating of manna and drinking water from the rock. Both miraculous experiences were powerful examples of God’s might and active engagement in their well-being, but for them, it was still not enough. We know this because Paul said:
But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.1 Corinthians 10:5 NKJV
In other words, God did everything He could to demonstrate His love for them, and it was never enough. They complained, they disobeyed, they made an idol of gold, and they wanted to return back to Egypt. Event after event, miracle after miracle, forgiveness and more forgiveness, and deliverance after deliverance, and they still rejected Him. I simply don’t get it! I sit in the place of looking back over their journey and judge their ease of neglect to the God who was better than good to them, and it puzzles me! And I’m sure it puzzled Paul because his observation was that God wasn’t pleased with most of them and therefore they perished in the wilderness.
I think about this today and realize that we are no different, and in many cases, worst, than the children of Israel. I’ve heard people say that if God is real, where are the miracles? Well, He performed countless miracles for the children of Israel and they were faithless. Then Jesus came and He performed many miracles, and let me remind you of the response of the people:
“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death…Acts 2:22-23 NKJV
These words were spoken by Peter on the day of Pentecost, after all of the miracles Jesus had performed, after His death on the cross, and after He had risen from the dead. Miracles are great, and they are a powerful witness to the presence and power of God. But they don’t cause the masses to believe today, any more than they believed in the past. And to me, that’s astonishing! I don’t get it!
So if miracles don’t draw people to having a committed relationship with God, then what does? And if miracles don’t happen to make people love God and realize how good He is, then are they necessary for today? Well, I’m glad you asked because I have some thoughts on the subject.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.Ephesians 2:4-7 NKJV
But God! All of us, who are living for the Lord has a “but God” testimony! Not the Red Sea testimony, but the one that testifies of a loving Father, who in spite of our mess-ups and failures, love us. Or the testimony that bears witness to the fact that in the midst of the busyness of life, when no one was around, and we felt the weight of the world on our shoulders, or the deep-seated weight of loneliness, God stepped in. But God! Or maybe there is the testimony of abandonment, abuse, neglect, or being cast away without a friend or someone who cared, but God showed up. And with God came His great love, the exceeding riches of His grace, His kindness towards us in Jesus. And at that moment, something happened that a miracle could never outlast; acceptance and redemption from Elohim, God of the universe! And in return, our complete devotion and love!
I believe in miracles. I long for the miracle-working power of God to manifest in our midst. I even told God that if miracles were happening, people would rush to Him and serve Him forever, so I thought He should increase His miracles!
Miracles are wonderful! We do need to see them! But I believe that God chooses not to perform miracles on demand because He knows that if we build our faith and trust in Him based on miracles, it would be a shallow relationship. That type of relationship would only prove that we are sticking around for what God can do for us and would not teach us to love Him and to be faithful to Him, no matter what!
However, when our relationship is a love relationship; when we understand that the greatest honor in life is to be loved by God; when we have figured out that no relationship outshines the relationship we have been invited to through the Blood of Jesus; and when we value Him over all others and everything…then we can appreciate the miracle!
Miracles are all about what God can do for us! If we are not careful we will begin to think that if He isn’t doing a miracle for us, He doesn’t love us or He’s not present in our lives. When our devotion is to Him first, we can recognize that the greatest miracle is that He first loved us! Wonderful Jesus!