God of Israel, be the God of our heart. Amen
Text: First Corinthians 10:6-13
Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
“Do not become idolaters, the Apostle says and points to the warning of the Israelites who sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.
“What does this: ‘eating, drinking, and playing’ have to do with idolatry? In Exodus 32, from which the verse is taken, there certainly was eating, drinking, and playing in connection with idolatry, for it was the festival for the golden calf where they ate, drank, and played. But when Paul wanted to warn against idolatry, didn’t he have to take into account the first seven verses of that chapter where it tells about the golden calf itself and the sacrifice to it? Why does he emphasize just that they ate and drank and played? Well, with good reason. I think of the high festivals of the living God in the Old Testament when they rejoiced and ate and drank and sang and danced for joy before the Lord. And I also think about our high festivals, Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, when we also eat and drink and rejoice. We complain about the accounts of the Old Testament and we excuse our own eating, drinking, and playing. ‘Surely it isn’t an idolatrous festival when we’re only doing what was done of old to the glory of God.’ And so people are led astray.
“It is true the early Christians liked to get together for fellowship meals – body and soul rejoiced in the living God. But they were different than the Christians of our time in their festivals. Joy in the living God is not the modern fashion! Say what you will, your conscience knows the difference. You eat and drink to excess without thinking about God. Your conversations are not giving thanks, not about the love of Christ. You forget God and misuse His holy name. And then your sports, your songs and dances! I wouldn’t deny anyone the right to indulge in innocent pleasure; but don’t pretend that all our play is innocent. – You sin! You sin, and that is the pleasure you long for! Don’t you sincerely want to be like the early Christians and the faithful Israelites? Finally in your conscience you will have to admit that you serve the devil on the Lord’s high feasts; for God has no delight in them. Then you are idolaters, so these words of Paul are fitting for you. Yes, they are written ‘as examples for us,’ and I beg you to read the whole chapter and to consider it for your own good” (Löhe).
Merciful God, move us all to holy sincerity; teach us to use Your gifts with Christian moderation, and to have joy in praising You and having mercy on the poor. Amen.
Should some lust or sharp temptation
Prove too strong for flesh and blood,
Lo! I think upon Thy Passion,
And the breach is soon made good:
Or should Satan press me hard,
Thinking I am off my guard,
Christ, I say, for me was wounded,
And the tempter flees confounded.
If the world my heart entices
On the broad and easy road,
And doth by its gay devices
Silence every thought of God,
When the heavy load I see
Which, dear Lord, was laid on Thee,
I can still each wild emotion,
Calm and blest in my devotion.
Heerman: O what precious balm and healing L 15:2-3 ELH 293:2-3 tr. R. Massie;
tune: Der am Kreuz