IsraelFor I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. (1Co 10:1-6 NIV)

This passage I want to summarize in the following way: You will loose eternal salvation even if you live in sacramental community, but you do not let the power of the sacrament heal your soul. You must strive for sanctification or even the reception of the sacrament will be to our detriment. The apostles uses the fate of the Israelites in the desert as proof for this. They had experienced wonderful miracles by God’s grace, miracles that had a lot in common with the sacraments according to form and content. They travelled under the pillar of cloud, which covered them like a blanket. They went through the Red Sea as if through a passageway. Cloud and water saved them in this time of Moses just as we are saved from eternal condemnation through baptismal waters. They ate the miraculous food from heaven called “Manna” and they drank water from the rock because Christ was with them. So they also had wonderful food and drink, just as we also eat wonderfully in the Lord’s Supper.

And yet God was not pleased with most of them, but struck them down in the desert. All, who left Egypt died in the desert – except Joshua and Caleb. Nobody entered the Promised Land – even Moses and Aaron died at its portals.

So even midst the greatest miracles and gracious wonders of our God, we can get lost, if you don’t let his grace lead you to sanctification. Whatever happened to the Israelites, occurred as examples to us.

Therefore o man consider this well und contemplate these beneficial deeds. Thank God from the bottom of your heart, that he gave us his only Son and with him the sacraments and pure doctrine structured for sinners, that they may receive help against death and all complaints, that could harm us eternally. If you believe his words and your heart trusts in his grace alone, then your soul is well off!  (Veit Dietrich, 1506-1549. The translation is rather literal and neither poetic nor hymnal)

(Translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for Monday after the Sunday Septuagesiame as found on Pg. 97 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu!   (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and puplished in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.)

About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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