Examples From God
This is our third lesson in the series called Command, Example, and Necessary Inference. We’re examining the various ways in which God has left His instructions for us concerning how He wants us to live our lives. The bible is indeed an “instruction manual” which reveals to us the nature and Spirit of God, ie.. “Love is from God, for God is love”.. 1 John 4:8; “Our God is a consuming fire”.. Heb 12:29; “God is patient with you, not wishing for any to perish”.. 2 Pet 3:9; “Vengeance is Mine says the Lord”.. Rom 12:19; And so on..
His word tells us the proper manner in which to worship Him, ie.. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth”.. Jn 4:24 (“God’s word is truth” Jn 17:17, so to worship in truth is to worship according to the instructions given in His word); “In vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrine the commands of men”.. Mat 15:9; (your worship is vain, if you pattern it after the ideas of man instead of after the instructions from God) “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might”.. Mat 22:37; and various other verses.
God’s word tells us how to act towards our fellow man, ie.. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”.. Mat 22:39; “Bear one anther’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ”.. Gal 6:2; “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.. Mat 7:12; “Do good unto all men, and especially those of the household of faith”.. Gal 6:10; “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, giving preference to one another in honor”.. Rom 12:10. It’s worthy to note here, that the word “honor” refers to “value”. Give preference to one another in value. In other words consider the other person as more valuable than yourself. Two words sum that up.. Be Humble! “But the greatest among you will be your servant” Mat 23:11
How are you going to treat something or someone, that you value highly? you’re gonna give it a lot of TLC, aren’t you? So, be devoted one to another, giving as much TLC to one another, as you can.
Humility Of Mind
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, let each of you regard one another as more important than himself. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard this equality with God as something which had to be held on to, but He emptied Himself, taking on the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:4-8.
Now isn’t that an absolutely wonderful passage of scripture? It uses the example of Jesus, to teach us, or I should say to command us, how we should act towards one another. And it implies the great love of God that has been displayed towards us, in giving Jesus to become the “perfect lamb of God”, the PERFECT SACRIFICE for our sins.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Let me show you an example of regarding others as more important than ourselves. This is an example that God is giving us from James 2:2-4, “If a man comes into your assembly (that is, into the worship assembly of the congregation) with a gold ring, and in fine clothing, and there also comes a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one wearing the fine clothing, and say; You sit here in a fine place, but you say to the poor man; You stand over there, or sit at my footstool; haven’t you made a distinction among yourselves and become judges with evil motives?”
No these verses are teaching not to be prejudice and not to judge, but they are also teaching us to esteem ALL people as important. Yes, even the poor, maybe especially the poor, as MORE important than ourselves. Who did Jesus die for? Did He die for the rich? Did He die for the poor? He died for everyone, didn’t He?
“And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but for those of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2 What a great example!
A Question About Examples
In any given example, what exactly should we learn from it? And does God intend for the lesson to become a binding law upon us? For instance, in the example that I just spoke about, from the book of James, we learn at least two things. First we learn that God is instructing us NOT to show partiality, or in other words, not to be prejudice. God does not allow His children to show favoritism to one man over another. That is a binding law from God that we must live by, or we will be guilty of sin. Now I have another question for you. Does that law only apply with respect to the favoring of men? Does God allow us to show partiality when it comes to women or children? Of course not, that would be ridiculous wouldn’t it?
But what I’m pointing out is the fact that we are to learn the PRINCIPLE of not being partial. The details of the example are not the point. The fact that God used a rich man, and a poor man in His example, doesn’t mean a thing. The lesson learned has nothing to do with the gender of the person, and it has nothing to do with riches either. We could be partial because of many things, not just wealth. We could be partial to someone who has power or control over something. We could be partial to one who has a more outgoing personality. My point is that the incidentals used in the example, make no difference at all. The lesson is on the principle of favoritism and partiality. It’s a matter of not being prejudice against someone, or even some group of people, for whatever the reason may be. God will not allow it! It’s sinful! When God lays out a principle that we should live by, that principle is a LAW that we must obey. It’s that simple. That’s not my opinion, it’s the word of God!
Now here’s the second lesson that we learn from that example.. Humility! We looked at the verse of scripture from Philippians 2:4 which said, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, let each of you regard one another as more important than himself. We might be tempted to show partiality because of pride and conceit. But God says we must be humble. And so that goes hand-in-hand with the lesson on partiality. Whether someone is rich or poor, young or old, male or female, let us ALL regard EVERYONE as more important than ourselves. That is a principle that God commands us to live by. It’s a law of God! “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love, giving preference to one another in honor.” Rom 12:10
Some of God’s Examples
Let’s take look at 1 Corinthians, chapter 10. In this chapter, God gives us some examples of what NOT to do. God is going to tell us here, about some of the mistakes that Israel had made, and why He was displeased with them. As a matter of fact, they were not allowed to enter the promised land because of their sinful mistakes. Instead, they were made to wander around in the wilderness until the whole generation of them had perished, except for two individuals who had trusted in God. And here’s what God says about His use of the examples that He gives us in this chapter.
“Now these things happened to them as examples for us, that we should not crave evil things as they also craved.” 1 Cor 10:6
“Now these things happened to them as an example, and were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” V-11
The first example that God uses here is from Exodus 32:1-10, where Israel had made a golden calf to worship, while Moses spent 40 days and nights up on MT Sinai, where he received the ten commandments from God. Many details are given of how Israel couldn’t wait for Moses to come back down the mountain, and how they complained and demanded that they all join together and create something that they could put their hands on and look at and worship. And so the created the golden calf, and danced and sang and celebrated as they worshiped this idol.
And so with all the many details that God reveals to us in this account, when He refers to it in 1 Cor 10:7, and says, “And do NOT be idolaters as they were.”
So we see that it wasn’t the details of the example that God focuses on, but rather it is the PRINCIPLE that He tells us to learn; specifically, “And do not be idolaters as they were.”
The next example that God gives is from Numbers 25:1-9. Here we’re told the story of how, many of the sons of Israel began to “play the harlot” with the women of Moab. Israel had been commanded NOT to intermarry with the foreign women of the lands that they were passing through. Rather, they were to keep themselves pure, as chosen people of God. Israel was suppose to be “married to the Lord”, so to speak. But they didn’t obey God’s commands, and so God says that they “played the harlot” in leaving Him and going after foreign women, who worshipped other gods. So again, many details are given as to what had happened in this instance. But the lesson that God says that we should learn from it, is given in 1 Cor 10:8, “Nor let us act IMMORALLY as some of them did, and twenty three thousand fell in one day.” So 23,000 people perished at the hands of God, because of their immorality. Doesn’t it sound to you like the principle of morality is a law that must be followed?
The details of the example weren’t what was important. But the principle that we should NOT act immorally, is a law of God! And we MUST obey that law.
Here’s the third example that God gives us in this chapter. This one’s from Numbers 21:4-9. In this story, Israel had just defeated the attack of a Canaanite King and his army that had come out to fight against Israel as they wandered in the wilderness. The victory had been given to them by God. But now Israel continued on their journey to the next place that they were to camp, and because the journey was long, the people began to complain and speak against Moses their leader, and against God Himself. So God sent poisonous snakes into the camp of Israel and many were bitten and died. When they finally repented of their sinfulness, they came to Moses, urging him to plead with God for His protection. Well God did give His protection in an interesting way. Instead of simply removing the snakes from the camp, God told Moses to erect a pole with the image of a “fiery serpent” on top. And when someone was bitten, they could come and look upon the image of the serpent on the pole, and they would be healed from the effects of the poisonous bite.
There were a lot of details given in that story. But when God uses this account as an example in 1 Cor chapter 10, this is what He says the lesson is.. “And do not TRY the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.” V-9 Do not TRY the Lord! You are receiving God’s blessings, stop complaining and “trying” His patience. Start being thankful for your blessings. Quit demanding everything else besides, what He has given you. The apostle Paul once said, “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstance I am in.” Philippians 4:11 Are the details of the example of any importance? No they are not! It’s the principle that we are told to learn. Do not TRY the Lord!
The fourth example that God gives us, is from Numbers 16:41-49. But the story really goes back to the very beginning of the chapter when three Israeli men, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, gathered together 250 leaders of the congregation of Israel, and rose up against Moses and his brother Aaron, and they challenged the leadership of Moses. Of course Moses was picked by God Himself to lead Israel, and so the uprising was put down by God Himself. Moses made a declaration about whether or not God will accept these men’s words against Moses. Listen to the words of Moses…
“But if the Lord brings about an entirely new thing, and the earth opens up it’s mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, (he’s referring to Korah, Dathan, and Abiram) and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will know that they have spurned the Lord.” Numbers 16:30.
That’s quite a declaration that Moses made! And to show that the words of Moses, were the words of God, listen to the next two verses…
“Then it came about as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground that was under them split open, and the earth opened it’s mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah, with their possessions. So they and all that belonged to them, went down alive to Sheol, and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly.” V’s 31-33.
V-35 says, “Fire also came forth from the Lord and consumed the 250 who were offering the incense.”
Now, if you saw all this happen right before your eyes, do you think that you would dare to open your mouth and object to it before Moses? I sure wouldn’t. But it seems that some people have to learn everything the “hard way”. So here’s what happened, and this is the exact incident that God uses as an example in 1 Cor chapter 10.
Numbers 16, verse’s 41-50 says, “But on the next day, all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron saying; You are the ones who have caused the death of the Lord’s people. It came about however, when the congregation had assembled against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tent of meeting, and behold, the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared.
Then Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying; Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly! Then they fell on their faces, (Moses and Aaron did) and Moses said to Aaron; take your censer and put in it fire from the alter, and lay incense on it, then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for the wrath has gone forth from the Lord, and the plague has begun!
Then Aaron took it as Moses had spoken and ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. And he took his stand between the dead and the living, so that the plague was checked. But those who died by the plague were 14,700, besides those who had died on account of Korah. Then Aaron returned to Moses at the doorway of the tent of meeting, for the plague had been checked.”
Now that’s a pretty dramatic event, wasn’t it? Can you imagine Aaron taking a stand between the living and the dead, to offer a sacrifice of atonement to God, so the plague could be stopped? That required a lot of courage, and devotion to your fellow countymen. Devotion to a people that had just rebelled against you! And it required a lot of trust in the value of an atonement! (Jesus is OUR atonement. What kind of value do you think that atonement has?)
But God went into much detail about these events, and He made sure that they were recorded for us as examples, for our instruction. And do you know what God said the lesson was, that we should learn from all this? God said in 1 Corinthians 10:10, “Do not GRUMBLE, as some of them did, and were destroyed, by the Destroyer!” God Himself was the “Destroyer” on this occasion, and He commands us not to grumble, as they did. And if we do choose to grumble, what will the outcome be? Will it not be “destruction”?
So here are the lessons that we’ve learned from all of these examples that God has given us, in this one passage of scripture, from 1 Cor 10:7-10…
Do not be idolaters, as some of them were..
Do not act immorally, as some of them did..
Let us not try the Lord, as some of them did..
Do not grumble, as some of them did..
Exactly HOW we become idolaters is not the point. Exactly HOW we act immorally, is not the point. Exactly HOW we “try” the Lord is not the point. Exactly WHAT we grumble about, is not the point. What IS the point?
The point is that we recognize both the love, and the wrath of God. The point is that we appreciate the patience of the Lord, but that we remember that some day, His patience will end and His judgment will begin. The point is also that we need to LOVE our God, with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our might, and that we love our fellow man as ourselves. That we show compassion to everyone. That we regard everyone, as more valuable than ourselves. That we not only REGARD others this way, but that we actually go ahead and BEAR one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.
We need to learn to be content with whatever blessings our God has given to us, and we should never complain that we don’t have more, or that we don’t have something different. Don’t worship this world, be separate from the world! Don’t act immorally, but rather learn from God’s word what purity is, and then LIVE according to that. Don’t test the Lord, or “try” the Lord, to try to see if what He has said is really what He means. And do not grumble and complain! Take the advice of Philippians 4:4, “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!”
We’ve learned from God, when we read the commands of God in the bible, and then OBEY those commands. We’ve learned, when we read the examples that He gives us, and understand the principles behind the examples, and then OBEY those principles. And we’ve learned, when we realize that when the Lord has implied something, we need to treat that implication, as just as binding upon us as the command, and OBEY it.
God Has Only Required Two Things
You’ll find this fact repeated over and over again in the bible, and on this website. God has only required two things from people, from the beginning of time, and to this day, and for eternity. And those two things are FAITH and OBEDIENCE. Believe that God IS, and that Jesus IS the Christ, the son of the living God, and OBEY what God and his Christ, and His Holy Spirit, has told us to do.
In our next lesson on Commands, Examples, and Necessary Inferences, we’ll look at examples of the faith of some bible characters, and how their faith led to their obedience to God’s commands.
Please join us for the next lesson, and please, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
As I close this lesson, let me ask you one more question. Have I given you any personal opinions here? Have I stated that this is how I see it, or that this is the way I interpret the scriptures? On the contrary, have I not simply pointed out what the BIBLE says about these things? I frequently receive comments here, that say this.. “Well, this is the way I see it”. Or, I see what the bible says, but here’s MY opinion”. Do you get my point? You can look through this entire website, and you will find that it’s the word of GOD that is pointed out and emphasized. My opinion or the opinion of anyone else doesn’t matter at all. It’s our choice whether to BELIEVE God’s word, or not to believe it. And it’s our choice whether to OBEY God’s word, or not to obey it.
But I plead with you to DESIRE the pure word of God. And I plead with you to believe that word and to obey that word.
May our God bless you in the study of His word. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled” Mat 5;6