1 Corinthians 10:9 “We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents,”
This text in 1 Corinthians is speaking of the Israelites when they were in the wilderness. Let’s read from Numbers 21:
Numbers 21:4–9 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.
How do we put Christ to the test from this text? We put him to the test when we become impatient with God to the point of complaint.
The warning from Paul in 1 Corinthians is that we must not do as the Israelites of old did. If we do, we will be destroyed. We may not be destroyed by serpents in the wilderness, but we will be destroyed by the Serpent of old, the Devil. Remember the individual in Corinth that was sinning by sleeping with his father’s wife? The church was told to excommunicate him out of the assembly and hand him to Satan so that he would be taught not to blaspheme. If we become impatient with God and utter complaints against him, we are testing the patience of Christ. We know Jesus to be a patient Savior, and yet we are warned that Christ’s patience has a limit when we complain against His Father.
Questions for the kids
- Why does Jesus take it personally when we complain against his father?
- Would you take it personally if your friends complained against me your father?
- If complaining in situations is actually complaining against God, what does that teach you about God’s sovereignty?