It is written in 1 Cor. 10:6: “But these things happened [as] types of us, that we should not be lusters after evil things, as they also lusted” (Darby Version). It is important to notice that it is not written: All things happened as types, but these things happened…. This means that not all things are figures. Which, then, are the types that Paul is focusing in the quoted text? They are:
1. The first one: “Neither be idolaters, as some of them were. As it is written.” This happened when Moses went up the Mount Sinai to receive the Law. “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” (1 Cor. 10:7). The people also adhered to the idolatry by making a golden calf (Ex. 32:1-6).
2. The second type is connected to the prostitution of the people who played the harlot with the daughters of Moab, the sin of Baal of Peor, by the counsel of Balaam, the fool prophet. Because of this Jehovah killed 3,000 with a plague (Num. 25:1-9; 31:16; 1 Cor. 10:8). Peter refers to this issue in 2 Pet. 2:12-16.
3. “Neither let us test the Lord, as some of them tested, and perished by the serpents” (1 Cor. 10:9). This type is in Num. 21:4-9, when the people murmured against god and against Moses, despising the manna and calling it “evil bread.” And so Jehovah sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit them, and many died. What is the connection with Jesus Christ? At the beginning of the Church many did not settle for a modest life, as Ananias and Sapphira did not, poisoned by the serpent, that is, Satan, and died (Acts 5:1-11). We know by this that Peter did not kill them, or Jesus, either, or the Holy Spirit, the one tempted, but Satan did, who prowls about, roaring as a lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:8). Paul focused this type in 1 Cor. 10:9.
4. “Neither grumble, as some of them also grumbled, and perished by the destroyer” (1 Cor. 10:10). These few grumblers, which perished by the hand of the destroyer, were ten of the twelve men sent to view the land of Canaan; for two of them did not complain, which were Joshua and Caleb (Num. 13:1-16). The other ten defamed the land (Num. 13:32-33). These ten men died of a plague sent by Jehovah, which Paul called “THE DESTROYER.” The one who killed them, though, was Jehovah (Num. 14:36-37). Paul concludes the text, saying: “Now all these things happened to them [as] types, and have been written for our admonition” (1 Cor 10:11 - Darby Version). We have omitted comments on the first five verses of 1 Cor. 10 because they have another spiritual application.
5. As Paul said, “these things happened [as] types of us,” many scholars understand that everything is a figure, and go overboard. Let us analyze the Egyptian captivity, if it is a figure or not: Based on the interpretation that Egypt is a figure of the world, Pharaoh is a figure of Satan, and the Egyptian captivity is a figure of the human captivity under the tyranny of sin. Pharaoh’s obstacles to make the people stay are Satan’s traps to keep the people captive to sin.
The comparison is very fine, but it is not complete. If Pharaoh is the figure of Satan, where is Satan’s firstborn? Jehovah killing the firstborn of Pharaoh, which is the devil’s type, saved Israel from Egypt (Ex. 4:23; 12:29).
The salvation of the Christians is different from the salvation of Israel. Jesus, the only begotten of the Father, gave himself to the adversary to save us (Gal. 1:4; John 10:17-18). Jehovah gave Egypt as ransom for Israel (Is. 43:3). The wrath and vengeance of god produced in Egypt a fleeting salvation, sending plagues, pestilences, and deaths. In the Church, the infinite love, forgiveness and grace of God saved forever. There, those who were saved died, afterwards, in the desert (Jude 5). Here, those who are saved have eternal life (John 3:36). There, the ones who were saved from the corruption of Egypt (Ezek. 23:2-4) were taken to Canaan, land of the sodomite Canaanites (Gen. 10:19-20), and Jehovah left them in the land of Canaan to educate his people (Judges 3:1-3). Here on earth, the ones that are saved by faith go out in the world for the love of Christ, singing psalms of joy, and move into the kingdom of heaven ahead of time, by faith. Paul says: “Giving thanks to the Father, who made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the Kingdom of the Son of his love” (Col. 1:11,12). And he says more: “even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:5,6). To be in the heavenly places is not a future fact. And Paul goes on: “If then you were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory” (Col. 3:1-4). The text suggests that the physical body of the Christian is on earth, but his soul is in the heavenly places, taken by spiritual passion. The apostle Paul was so absorbed by the things of God and the work of Jesus, that he declared: “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). The kingdom of God, the growth of the churches, the care of all the churches established by Paul himself in his trips, the revelations of the mysteries and of the allegories of the Old Testament, the love for the lost souls, the healings, the prodigies, and the raptures became such a part of the mind and heart of Paul, that he detached himself from the life of this world and declared: “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will bring fruit from my work; yet I don’t know what I will choose. But I am in a dilemma between the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Yet, to remain in the flesh is more needful for your sake” (Phil. 1:21-24).
The story of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt by the hand of Moses, sent by Jehovah, presents a completely different reality. Stephen, the first martyr, reveals this truth, saying: “This [Moses] is he who was in the assembly in the wilderness with the angel that spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, who received living oracles to give to us, to whom our fathers wouldn’t be obedient, but rejected him, and turned back in their hearts to Egypt” (Acts 7:38-39).
The figure is stretched, for it does not exist. They are two different stories, two salvations also different, with two different realities. There, they were saved but remained unclean. Here in the Church, those who are saved have their sins washed; therefore Ananias said to Paul on the third day after his conversion: “Now why do you wait? Arise, be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). There, those who were saved were saved dead, for Paul says: “For if by the offence of the one death reigned by the one, much rather shall those who receive the abundance of grace, and of the free gift of righteousness, reign in life by the one Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17). Here, the saved, when he believes, goes from death to life (John 5:24).
Drawing figures where they do not exist does not bring good results. We conclude that the salvation accomplished by Jesus Christ is so transcendent, so supernatural, so glorious and celestial, that nothing could be done on earth that would be a representation of it.
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira