Paul makes it quite clear that although Israel was "baptized into Moses" (a type of Christ), they actually fed and drank the same spiritual source as the Church: "all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ" (v.3-4). This implies that despite being under Moses' Law (which was given to help explain and expose sins), their spiritual Source and Sustainer was Christ, not the Law; for they shared the same spiritual food and drink as we do--the body and blood of Christ in the Passover Feast. For this reason, what happened to them was an example to us: if we do not walk in the path of holiness after we have drunk and fed on Christ, we will share the same divine judgment: "Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come" (v.11). Paul is saying that their example serves as a warning to us NT believers.
There are three important lessons here today:
- Christ was Israel's Spiritual Source: Just as the Church is grafted into the Vine which is Christ, and since the Church shares the same spiritual root as Israel, so Israel share the same spiritual Source--Christ as He was revealed through the Tabernacle and its offerings. In other words, despite the fact that they were under the Law of Moses, they were as much "saved by grace" as the Church is--through Christ who gave himself as the atoning sacrifice for sins. So just as Christ was Spiritual Source of Israel, though under Moses' Law, so Christ is our Spiritual Source, who is now under Christ's Law of the Spirit and Love.
- Same Grace, Different Laws: Both Israel and the Church have the same grace in Christ, but their difference lies in their laws on which they would live by. For Israel, it was the Law of Moses, but for the Church, it was the Law of Christ, which is the Law of the Spirit of life. In other words, the Church is no longer obligated to keep Moses' Law but to walk by the Spirit of Christ. While the Holy Spirit was already present in Israel, He came upon only a few people whereas the Law of Moses was available to all Israelites. However, Christ came to fulfil the Law by writing its moral and spiritual truths upon our hearts through the indwelling Spirit. So, although Israel and the Church were saved by the same grace (Christ) through faith, they were under obligation to different Laws--the former to Moses' Law and the latter to the Christ's Law (indwelling Spirit).
- Grace is not an Excuse for Sins: As much as grace did not spare Israel from divine judgment when they deliberately chose to walk in sins, so the Church would not be spared divine judgment: "For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you" (Rom. 11:21). Paul's warning in this chapter should be taken seriously: "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall" (v.12). Like Israel, we should not take God's grace for granted and become careless, care-less and callous about our personal sins, thinking erroneously that under grace, we can get away with sinning with no need for repentance and confession.
Father, grant us Your grace to help us walk by the Spirit and not according to the sinful flesh. Amen.