Israel: A Type of Salvation (Part 1)
"Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 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 complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon 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" (I Cor. 10:1-13).

This passage from the apostle Paul contains one of the clearest type/antitype relationships found in the Bible (that is, a relationship where one thing foreshadows another). He compares the salvation of Israel in Moses' day to our salvation today in Christ. The salvation of Israel is the type (or shadow); salvation in Christ is the antitype (or corresponding figure). Paul makes this comparison and issues some serious warnings for Christians today based upon the failures of the Israelites. Let us study the historical events of old that Paul mentions here and learn from the mistakes of Israel.

This story begins unfolding in the book of Genesis. The sons of Jacob sold their brother Joseph as a slave, and he was carried off to Egypt. But, he trusted God and God was with him. In a relatively short amount of time, Joseph went from slave to prisoner to being in control of everything in Egypt! He was under no human's authority except Pharaoh himself. Then, when the famine struck and the children of Israel needed grain, they had to go and trade in Egypt with Joseph. After the "family reunion" of Joseph with his brothers and father, Joseph invited the entire family to move to Egypt where they were royally received by Pharaoh. Pharaoh gave them land to dwell in and they prospered greatly.

But when the book of Exodus begins, things have changed. "Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph" (1:8). Israel was not conquered and forced into slavery; she drifted into it! Originally, the children of Israel were free when they lived in Egypt, but due to deception and perhaps carelessness (1:10), they soon found themselves enslaved to the Egyptians. This brings us to our first point of comparison.

As babies, we are brought into this world pure and without sin (cf. Ezek. 18:20; Matt. 18:3,4). Eventually, when we become accountable, Satan will do his best to get us to sin, and he is always successful at enslaving us spiritually (cf. Rom. 6:16ff). All humans have sinned (cf. Rom. 3:23), but sin is never forced upon anyone. Satan cannot make anyone sin. It is always the decision of the individual to enter into this sort of bondage. Adam and Eve had the power to resist the devil, but they chose not to, and sin and death were ushered into the world. Later, God explained - "Behold, the LORD's hand is not shortened that is cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear, but your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear" (Isa. 59:1,2). It was man who turned to accept spiritual bondage of his own free will, and man cannot blame God! James talks about this very thing - "Let no one say when he is tempted, 'I am tempted by God'; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death" (James 1:13-15). The Egyptians may have been crafty, but Israel was responsible for her bondage. The same can be said about the devil and humanity's bondage to sin.

We will continue this study in our next lesson.