“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” (1 Corinthians 10:1–5, KJV)
In the 1980’s an engineer named Roger Boisjoly worked for the Morton Thiokol company as an engineer. Thiokol was the company that made solid rocket boosters for NASA’s space shuttle project. Boisjoly began warning Thiokol of a potential problem with the solid rocket boosters in 1985. His warning was that the O-ring seals in the boosters could fail in cold weather conditions. He warned that the rubber O-rings could become brittle in cold temperatures and fail, allowing flames from the solid fuel combustion to leak out around the seals. This presented a potentially dangerous situation during the launch of a space shuttle.
On January 27, 1986 the space shuttle Challenger was prepared for launch the next day. That evening temperatures in Florida plummeted to below freezing. That evening through the next morning Boisjoly and other engineers from Thiokol pleaded with NASA to delay the launch. However, senior managers at Thiokol and NASA did not heed the warning. The result was disastrous. One minute after the Challenger took off, the O-ring on one of the boosters failed and ignited the hydrogen tank causing a massive explosion, which destroyed the shuttle and killed the crew. Warnings are critical, but only useful if heeded.
In the previous verses Paul spoke of the importance of being focused and disciplined so as not to hinder him in his calling to preach the gospel. Here, he extends a warning to the church in Corinth. To do this, he looks back to the nation of Israel at the time of the exodus and wanderings in the journey to the Promised Land.
He reminded them of the tremendous blessings that Israel had. The Lord delivered them from bondage. He guided them on their journey by the pillar of cloud. He opened the Red Sea for them to pass and escape Pharoah’s army. He provided food and water for them as they journeyed in a desolate land. The nation comprises one people united in a special way by God. They were His chosen people. He then wrote that just as God provided Israel with water from the rock at Mirabah, they too were provided spiritual water from the Rock, Jesus Christ.
Yet, while Israel had all these great blessings from God, that generation of people proved faithless. They rebelled against God when it came time to enter the Promised Land. Thus, only two from that generation would enter the Promised Land, Joshua and Caleb.
Paul is giving every believer a warning. It is possible to be blessed with every spiritual blessing and still fail to experience true victory in the faith. The key is to be people who walk by faith and to avoid the faithlessness as demonstrated by the generation of Israel that failed to enter the land.
God has a calling for every church and every individual believer. True believers and their churches have a special unified relationship with each other and the Lord. They have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. Yet even with all these blessings, it is possible for believers and churches to fall short of their high calling. Churches and believers must heed the warning and be diligent to stand firm in the faith.