Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Numbers - "Desert Grumblings"|
Chs. 16 & 17
Chapter: Numbers 16
Passage: Numbers 16:1-15
A. Find Out:
1. Who came and said what? v.1-3
2. What was Moses' response? v.4
3. What did he tell them to do? v.5-7
4. Of what did he accuse them? v.8-11
5. Who then did Moses summon and what was their response? v.12-14
6. What was Moses' response? v.15
1. Who were the various groups opposing Moses & Aaron?
2. What was Moses initial response each time?
3. How would you summarise Moses' way of dealing with problems?
It is sometimes said that Sin is equated with stupidity. There really can be no other way to explain the actions of these people. We have observed fire from the Lord (11:1) after complaints about hardship, plague after food grumbling ( 11:33 ), Miriam turned leprous ( 12:10 ) after challenging Moses, the ten unbelieving spies killed ( 14:37 ), and the warriors defeated ( 14:45 ). Surely, you would think, the message would have got through by now, but, no! Now there are two groups who come together in collaboration to gang up against Moses and Aaron.
The first group is Korah, a Levite, and some other Levites (v.1,7). Levites were tabernacle servers but not priests. They thought they were good enough to be priests. The other group were Dathan and Abiram from the tribe of Reuben, plus some 250 other lesser leaders from various tribes. Their objection is that Moses and Aaron have elevated themselves above the rest.
Moses reaction to each of these rebellions is instructive – he falls flat on his face, presumably praying. Once he's prayed, he knows what to do. Very well, he says, you want to be a priest – come and offer incense and see what God feels about that! Meanwhile the other group refuse to turn up. Moses' answer? To turn to the Lord again.
1. Don't ever raise your hand or voice against God's leaders.
Chapter: Numbers 16
Passage: Numbers 16:16-27
A. Find Out:
1. What did Moses instruct Korah to do? v.16,17
2. So what then happened? v.18,19
3. What did the Lord appear to say He would do? v.20,21
4. What was Moses' & Aaron's response to this? v.22
5. How did the Lord respond? v.23
6. So what did Moses do? v.24-27
1. What did the Lord appear to want to do with Israel ?
2. How do you think this was another test for Moses?
3. How did the Lord appear to relent?
We're not rushing on with this story for there are important things to note along the way and at the risk of repetition we need to take hold of them. Korah, we saw previously had challenged Moses' position and so Moses is basically saying, very well, you want to be a priest, so come and be a priest and stand before God and release you will be answerable to Him. There are those who challenge church leadership and say, “I'm as good as them, why aren't I a leader?” What they don't realise is that leadership in the kingdom of God is a matter of calling – God's calling! If you want to barge your way into a position that God has not given, beware, you will be answerable to God!
Again the Lord expresses His intention to wipe out all Israel for Korah and his 250 community leaders is representative of the people. This is what the people think and so they will be answerable to the Lord. There is a sense whereby they are already under a forty year death penalty so why not hasten the process. Yet again we find Moses and Aaron falling flat on their faces in intercession – praying, standing (or lying) between the Lord and the people. Moses' appeal is on the basis of justice – only judge the sinner, not the rest. The Lord doesn't seem to make His intentions crystal clear but we can guess what is coming when He calls for these families to be separated out. Watch this space.
1. Accept the role God has assigned to you. Be at peace in it.
2. Do we rejoice in judgement of others or intercede on their behalf?
Chapter: Numbers 16
Passage: Numbers 16:28-40
A. Find Out:
1. How does Moses present what is happening to the people? v.28
2. What two possibilities does he present? v.29,30
3. What then happened to Korah and his followers? v.31-34
4. What then happened to the 250 offering incense? v.35
5. What then happened to the censers? v.36-40
6. Why? v.38c,40b
1. What were the two judgements described here?
2. How can there be no mistake about what is happening?
3. How was there to be an ongoing reminder of this?
We are now in the realm of major miracle, major act of God. There can be absolutely no confusion about what took place. This after all was the point of the exercise. This is an embryo nation of God and they have to learn some hard lessons early on in their history. Moses lays it on the line. He first of all requires the people to move away from the tents of the families of these three leaders of this rebellion (v.24). He makes the options clear. The point needing to be made is all about who has God's authority and who is in rebellion. So the people stand back and watch, and Moses could now appear a foolish, arrogant leader.
But he doesn't because the Lord moves dramatically. The ground opens up and literally swallows these men, their families and every sign of their existence. They are totally gone! But then there are the 250 followers standing outside the Tabernacle. Suddenly lighting (?fire from heaven) strikes every one of them down. Instant death! There is, tragically, no room for any other interpretation of these circumstances other than this is the clear and terrible judgment of God. The warnings had been there; opportunity for repentance had been there, but they had been ignored. God moves and simply removes each of these groups of rebels in a very clear way.
1. We need to learn to respect calling and authority.
Chapter: Numbers 16
Passage: Numbers 16:41-50
A. Find Out:
1. What happened the next day? v.41
2. What happened at the tent of Meeting? v.42,43
3. What did the Lord say? What was Moses' response? v.44,45
4. What did Moses tell Aaron to do? v. v.46,47a
5. But what had already happened? v.47,49
6. Yet what did Aaron achieve?.v.48
1. Why do you think the people were wrong in what they said?
2. Why do you think Aaron's actions saved the people?
The first thing to notice here is the crass stupidity of the people. Again and again they have seen the hand of judgement of the Lord come down and yet still they insist in provoking the Lord. They blame Moses for the latest deaths and in so doing they show a) their lack of understanding of the wrong of those men and, b) their lack of realisation that Moses was not a magician; what had happened had been the Lord!
So, yet again, the judgement of the Lord breaks out and people start dying. Now we have to face a strange thing that happened. Why had Aaron burning incense made the Lord stop. To understand this perhaps, we need to realise that the whole sacrificial system prefigured the coming of Christ to die to take the sins of the world – both after he came AND before he came. Thus the act of offering something was an act of obedient faith that trusted God to deal with the sin. It was not their act that paid for the sin, but the death of Christ. Their act was simply faith that opened the door for the Lord to forgive the people in question.
When Aaron therefore steps forward and offers holy incense it is as if he claims atonement according to God's strategy as laid down in the Law and in the eventual death of Christ (although Aaron wouldn't know that at that time). John has the same idea (1 Jn 2:1,2) as he pictures Christ stepping forward when we sin, the people of God today. It's as if Christ say, “Father, I died for them. Now please forgive them.”
1. ALL Sin is punished. Either we take it or Jesus does.
2. We rely entirely on Jesus' death on the Cross for us. Nothing else.
Chapter: Numbers 17
Passage: Numbers 17:1-13
A. Find Out:
1. What did the Lord tell Moses to do? v.1-3
2. How were they to reveal God's will? v.4,5
3. What was the outcome? v.6-9
4. What instruction did Moses give and why? v.10
5. Yet what was Israel 's response? v.12
1. What was the significance of what happened to Aaron's rod?
2. What was the point of putting it in front of the ark?
3. What was the Lord's objective by all this?
Aaron and the future priesthood have been under attack. So far in these studies we have noted seven lots of grumbling against Moses and Aaron. The people need to realise that God has appointed Aaron and his subsequent family to stand before Him at the Tabernacle. It is not something to be aspired to by anyone from any tribe. In such a way the Lord will help the people realise something of His holiness; He is not to be approached casually.
To counter all this grumbling against Aaron, the Lord lays on a simply demonstration for the people. Each tribe-leader is to present a staff (a strong walking stick) to Moses and they will be labelled and left in the Tent over night. The next morning a miracle was clearly observable. Aaron's staff hadn't merely budded with shoots, it had budded, produced leaves and blossom and fruit. Naturally speaking such a thing was clearly impossible. This is an obvious miracle and clearly observable sign from the Lord. Of that there could be no dispute. This wasn't something Moses and Aaron could conjure up, this was a clear miracle from God.
To ensure this would be not forgotten, Aaron's staff would be left on display. The people begin to realise the significance of this: the Lord is there at the Tabernacle, this is a holy place and anyone who comes casually here is going to die. There message is getting through!
1. God doesn't desire death (Ezek 18:32 ). He seeks to avoid it.
2. The Lord's grace is there to make the way ahead clear.
RECAP - "Challenging the Leadership" - Numbers 16 & 17
In this third group of 5 studies we have seen :
- Leaders rebelling against Moses (16:1-3)
- Moses instructing and warning them (16:4-30)
- The leaders destroyed by God ( 16:31 -35)
- The censers used as a reminder ( 16:36 -40)
- Israel grumbling against Moses & Aaron ( 16:41 )
- Moses & Aaron interceding for them ( 16:42 -50)
- The Lord makes Aaron's rod a sign (17:1-13)
The only way you can excuse the leaders and the people is to suggest that they just don't know the Lord yet, and yet there have already been a number of instances of rebellious grumblings and the Lord bringing judgement. The only trouble is that people explain away such judgements as natural phenomena that ‘might have happened anyway'. Such is the stupidity and blindness of sin. The message that must be coming through surely, is that the Lord is holy and will not tolerate wilful rebellion among His people. Do we explain away the Lord's activities in our unbelief?
1. Beware rising up against God's delegated authority.
2. We need to learn to be at peace with the role that God gives us.
3. Criticism is destructive and brings God's discipline or judgement.
4. Wilful sin will have bad consequences.
5. God's grace is there to follow repentance.
Thank the Lord for the provision of spiritual authority that He has provided for your feeding and protection, however inadequate you may consider the person to be.
PART 4 : "To Trans-Jordan " Num 20 & 21
In this next Part we will find the people of Israel near the end of their time of desert wandering, arriving at the border of the Promised Land and an awful failure by Moses. It is also a significant time of dealing with existing inhabitants in that area.