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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

March 13, 2015

Missing the goal

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

The apostle Paul tells us that the experience of the Israelites in leaving Egypt is an example for us: "All these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come" (1 Corinthians 10:11).

Crossing the Red Sea on the dry sea bed is a symbol of baptism: "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" (verses 1-2).

According to Paul, those Israelites had contact with the Word, Christ, and were supported by Him. They "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" (verses 3-4).

An estimated two and half million Israelites left Egypt during the Exodus. How many of them reached the goal, the Promised Land? Paul writes: "But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness" (verse 5).

Paul says that "most of them" missed the goal. Since only two men of the adult generation (those over 20 years of age) made it to the Promised Land, it seems that Paul was definitely not exaggerating!

Those of the adult generation who "were scattered (i.e. who died) in the wilderness" did not all die at the same time. They died – or "fell away" – bit by bit, until only Joshua and Caleb remained.

Since the experience of the Israelites serves as an example for us, what conclusion can we draw from it? A person can be called to leave Egypt, have contact with God and start on the path and yet miss the goal.

20 years ago the Worldwide Church of God numbered some 150,000 people attending church services worldwide. Today the number of those from back then who have remained loyal to their belief system is greatly reduced. It is less than 20 percent.

Paul concludes his discourse on the experience of the Israelites with an admonition: "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (verse 12).

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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