Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.” (1Co 10:6-7 NIV)
The entire story of Israel tells us something and is significant even for us. When the people of Israel were moving towards Mt. Sinai, they missed this and that to which they had grown accustomed during their sojourn in Egypt even without appreciating it really during that time. Their feet were moving forward, yet their hearts were still hooked up in the past. They were fixed to the place of their misery and suffering, where they had cried pitifully for deliverance and divine liberation. In Egypt they had quite enough meat to eat. In the desert they lacked this sorely. God sent them quails instead – and lots of them. The Israelites devoured them with passionate craving – and they suffered the dire consequences of this over-indulgence. Who would have thought it was possible to forget the tremendous revelation of God at Sinai in just 40 days? Yet this is what happened. The people had ample opportunity to remember Egypt and behold that accursed idolatry and the sinful worship became such an attraction to their minds and hearts that they longed and pinned for this from the very bottom of their hearts. Some might have remembered the almighty God in heaven, who delivered them from Egypt, but most thought it was a good idea to accommodate the Egyptian worship styles into their own practice. This was syncretism and half-hearted devotion at best, but plain pagan revelry really. Blessed are we if we head the apostolic warning not to set our hearts on evil things as they did!
Dear heavenly Father: You want us to be devoted passionately to you. That is why your holy Word warns us to become attached passionately to evil desire and lust, which is a source of sin and godlessness. Grant us strength and fortitude to withstand all evil enticement and alluring. When they do tempt us, let us withstand them faithfully and victoriously. Make us truly thankful for those gifts that you do grant us graciously. Those things that you withhold from us, let us not miss too much and let us not mourn them either. Rather grant us our hearts content in your peace and tranquillity. Become more and more the one and only hearts desire we have and let us firmly trust in the truth: If we have but you, we don’t need heaven and earth. Amen.
1 Lord, Thee I love with all my heart; I pray Thee, ne’er from me depart, With tender mercy cheer me. Earth has no pleasure I would share, Yea, heav’n itself were void and bare If Thou, Lord, were not near me. And should my heart for sorrow break, My trust in Thee no one could shake. Thou art the portion I have sought; Thy precious blood my soul has bought. Lord Jesus Christ, My God and Lord, my God and Lord, Forsake me not! I trust Thy Word.
2 Yea, Lord, ’twas Thy rich bounty gave My body, soul, and all I have In this poor life of labor. Lord, grant that I in ev’ry place May glorify Thy lavish grace And help and serve my neighbor. Let no false doctrine me beguile; And Satan not my soul defile. Give strength and patience unto me To bear my cross and follow Thee. Lord Jesus Christ, My God and Lord, my God and Lord, In death Thy comfort still afford. (Martin Schalling 1532-1608 tr Catherine Winkworth, 1827-1878)
This is a rather free translation of Wilhelm Löhe’s devotion for the ninth Sunday after the high holiday and festival of the Holy Trinity. It is found on Pg. 278 in Lob sei Dir ewig, o Jesu! (Eternal Praise to you o Jesus!) edited by A. Schuster and published in the Freimund Verlag, Neuendettelsau 1949.