Israel in the Wilderness, says Paul, are a type, real and actual, of us. "In these things they became FIGURES OF US: these things happened unto them by way of figure" (1 Cor. 10: 6, 11).  Their experiences God has selected, not as exceptional, but as permanent revelations of His character: all human experiences, ours as theirs, must flow out of the one unalterable character of God.  Moreover God so wrought, and so wrote, purposely for the Church.  "In these things they became figures of us, to the intent that we should not lust, as they also lusted": "these things were written for our admonition."  The inspired record exists to prove the parallel: God so wrought, that we might know His character; He so wrote, that we might know it for ever.  Moreover the parallel points specifically to the acts of judgement.  "They were overthrown in the wilderness.  Now these things" - the repeated overthrows - "were our examples."  The judgments are embedded in the Word as in rock for ever, that the Wilderness should become the kindergarten of the Church.  To deny the parallel is to overthrow inspiration: to ignore the parallel is to silence the Scripture: to admit the parallel is to disclose a momentous peril to the believer in Christ.


The apostle lays down, in figure, the ample bedrock of our own spiritual standing. "Our fathers were all under the cloud" - redeemed by the blood of the Lamb - "and all passed through the sea" - separated from a godless world - "and were all baptised unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea" - a people buried to sin - "and did all eat the same spiritual meat" - at the Lord's Table - "and did all drink the same spiritual drink" - the Spirit from the smitten Lord - "for they drank of a spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ."  Standing in grace could hardly be stated, in so few words, more exhaustively: if privilege could render immune, Israel was beyond fall.  Now observe the startling and studied contrast.  "Howbeit with most of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.All under - all through - all immersed - all eating - all drinking; MOST OVERTHROWN.   For "they which run in a race all run, but one receiveth the prize." All - two millions: most - two millions minus two : "wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." Luke 12: 47, 48. Rom. 11: 17-22.


God's sharp dilemma impales us on its one horn or on the other. Overthrown Israel are a type, either of the believer's eternal destruction or of his forfeited reward: if it is not lost glory, it is lost lifeBut the passage itself decides.  "Know ye not that they which run in a race all run, but one receiveth THE PRIZEEven so run, that ye may attain... For * (*See R. V. and Critical Editions) I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, how that our fathers," so privileged, "were overthrown.God never put us under the Blood to withdraw us from its effeacy (Rom. 8: 1; John 10: 27-29; Rom. 11: 29; Heb. 9: 12): neither has He ever presented the Prize as an irrevocable gift.  What is the imperiled prize?  "They do it to receive a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  I therefore ... buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself" - even Paul - "should be rejected [for the crown]."  As fivefold was the privilege and fivefold the overthrow, so even the best saints need cautioning against the worst sins. 1 Cor. 6: 9. Heb. 4: 11.  "He is not crowned, except he have contended lawfully" (2 Tim. 2: 5). Jas. 1: 12. Rev. 3: 11.  The badge, the title, the proof of possession for the Millennial Kingdom is the Crown; and "the Kingdom of Heaven has no entrance fee, but its subscription is - all that a man hath." Phil. 3: 8-14The blessed reality of the election of God can prove no shelter for the sins of the elect: remember Moses. Col. 3: 25.


Nevertheless the command abides: Matt. 6: 33. "Take heed" - never presume: "God is faithful" - never despair.  Every escape out of temptation is a straight path into the coming Glory.  "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation make also the way of escape, that ye may be able to endure it."  God offers prizes in order that we may win them: His heart yearns for our entry into the Kingdom.  "Walk worthy of God, who is calling you into His own kingdom and glory" (1Thess. 2: 12).  The entrance lies in the worthy walk. Matt. 7: 21.  If our hearts linger in Egypt, our graves will be dug in the wilderness: if our hearts dwell in Canaan, we shall follow in person. Col. 3: 1-4. Rev. 2: 26. "Now THESE THINGS HAPPENED UNTO THEM BY WAY OF EXAMPLE; AND THEY WERE WRITTEN FOR OUR ADMONITION, UPON WHOM THE ENDS OF THE AGES ARE COME."






1. That is, "every one of you [with the exception of Caleb and Joshua] twenty years old or more who was counted in the census," (Num. 14: 29, 30.)