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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Numbers

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CONTEXT:

PART 4: Rebellion & Corrections

In the fourth part it is difficult to know quite where the jump of forty years takes place but in it we find a rebellion and judgment but then a re-establishing of Aaron and the Priesthood, a clarification of the role of the Levites, and an additional set of rules that can be applied outside the priesthood.

Ch. 16: [Action] Rebellion

- the rebellion and judgment of Korah etc.

Ch. 17: [Action] The Lord Elevates Aaron

- the budding of Aaron's staff

Ch. 18: [Law] Priests versus Levites

- roles of both

Ch.19: [Law] Water for Cleansing ‘Uncleanness'

- cleansing with ashes of a red heifer

 

  

   

FRAMEWORKS: Numbers 16: Rebellion

 

v.1-3 Korah, Dathan and Abiram & their followers rebel

v.4-7 Moses instructs what will happen next day

v.8-11 He warns them they are Opposing God

v.12-14 They Refuse to come to him

v.15-19 Moses prays then instructs them

v.20-22 Moses prays for the whole people

v.23-27 The Lord says to separate everyone from the three rebels

v.28-30 Moses spells it out to the People

v.31-35 Judgment comes on all the rebels

v.36-40 The Lord instructs for their censers be hammered out

v.41-45 When the people grumble the Lord threatens destruction

v.46-50 Moses instructs Aaron how to save the people

 

 

v.1-3 Korah, Dathan and Abiram & their followers rebel

  

v.1 Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites— Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent

v.2 and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council.

v.3 They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord's assembly?”

 

[Notes: The trials of a leader that so many know – followers who challenge leadership, well over 250 of them who challenge Moses as being greater than he is. They will learn what David learnt – “Who can lay a hand on the Lord's anointed and be guiltless?” (1 Sam 26:9) They should all be able to claim they are holy, but this behaviour is not holy.]

 

 

v.4-7 Moses instructs what will happen next day

 

v.4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown.

v.5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers: “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him.

v.6 You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: Take censers

v.7 and tomorrow put burning coals and incense in them before the Lord. The man the Lord chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!”

 

[Notes: Again Moses falls face down in prayer. We see him do this again and again – 14:5, 16:4,22,45, 20:6. He sets a challenge before Korah for the next day.]

 

 

v.8-11 He warns them they are Opposing God

 

v.8 Moses also said to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites!

v.9 Isn't it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord's tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them?

v.10 He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too.

v.11 It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?”

 

[Notes: But he warns them what they are doing – rising up against the Lord, as they rise up against the priesthood.]

 

 

v.12-14 They Refuse to come to him

 

v.12 Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, “We will not come!

v.13 Isn't it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? And now you also want to lord it over us!

v.14 Moreover, you haven't brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Do you want to treat these men like slaves? No, we will not come!”

 

[Notes: When called, the rebels refuse to come.]

 

 

v.15-19 Moses prays then instructs them

 

v.15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.”

v.16 Moses said to Korah, “You and all your followers are to appear before the Lord tomorrow—you and they and Aaron.

v.17 Each man is to take his censer and put incense in it—250 censers in all—and present it before the Lord. You and Aaron are to present your censers also.”

v.18 So each of them took his censer, put burning coals and incense in it, and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the tent of meeting.

v.19 When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the Lord appeared to the entire assembly.

 

[Notes: Moses prays and then instructs and, in a sense, the battle lines are drawn.]

 

 

v.20-22 Moses prays for the whole people

 

v.20 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron,

v.21 “Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.”

v.22 But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, “O God, the God who gives breath to all living things, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?”

 

[Notes: The Lord threatens to destroy all the people but Moses again intercedes for them.]

 

 

v.23-27 The Lord says to separate everyone from the three rebels

 

v.23 Then the Lord said to Moses,

v.24 “Say to the assembly, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.'”

v.25 Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him.

v.26 He warned the assembly, “Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.”

v.27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.

 

[Notes: So the Lord instructs that all the people move away from the tents of the rebels.]

 

 

v.28-30 Moses spells it out to the People

 

v.28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea:

v.29 If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me.

v.30 But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”

 

[Notes: Moses lays it out before the people so they will be clear in their understanding of what is about to happen.]

 

 

v.31-35 Judgment comes on all the rebels

 

v.31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart

v.32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions.

v.33They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community.

v.34 At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!”

v.35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

 

[Notes: Some may try to explain this as an earthquake or sink-holes but whatever it is, all the rebels and their families are obliterated. There is no question. In the same way that Pharaoh challenged God and lost out, so the same is true of these people. As we have indicated previously, this is an embryonic ‘holy nation' and God is having to teach them what holy means and what His Authority means. ]

 

 

v.36-40 The Lord instructs for their censers be hammered out

 

v.36 The Lord said to Moses,

v.37 “Tell Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, to remove the censers from the charred remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy—

v.38 the censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives. Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar, for they were presented before the Lord and have become holy. Let them be a sign to the Israelites.”

v.39 So Eleazar the priest collected the bronze censers brought by those who had been burned to death, and he had them hammered out to overlay the altar,

v.40 as the Lord directed him through Moses. This was to remind the Israelites that no one except a descendant of Aaron should come to burn incense before the Lord, or he would become like Korah and his followers.

 

[Notes: The censors that the rebels had taken – to prove a point – are taken and beaten out and used to overlay the bronze altar out the front of the Tabernacle, an ever present reminder of the authority and judgment of the Lord.]

 

 

v.41-45 When the people grumble the Lord threatens destruction

 

v.41 The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “You have killed the Lord's people,” they said.

v.42 But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the tent of meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared.

v.43 Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting,

v.44 and the Lord said to Moses,

v.45 “Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.” And they fell facedown.

 

[Notes: Amazingly next day the people are still grumbling. Near the end of chapter 15 we reiterated three reasons why God chose Israel, the second of which was to reveal the sinfulness of mankind seen through this people. Again and again through these chapters, the expression of this sinfulness glares through, of that they can be little doubt and it would be a foolish person to deny it. Again the Lord threatens to destroy this people. (In his position I suspect most of us would have given up on Israel months back!]

 

 

v.46-50 Moses instructs Aaron how to save the people

 

v.46 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.”

v.47 So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them.

v.48 He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped.

v.49 But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah.

v.50 Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, for the plague had stopped.

 

[Notes: Moses has learned something of the Lord's ways and knows that if he and Aaron stand between the people and the Lord – as their representatives applying holy methods, they may be saved – and so it was.]

    

   

CONTINUE TO CHAPTER 17