Numbers 16:1-2,5,8-9,18-21,31-32,35,41,45-49 One day Korah son of Izhar, a descendant of Kohath son of Levi, conspired with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, from the tribe of Reuben. They incited a rebellion against Moses, along with 250 other leaders of the community, all prominent members of the assembly... Then he said to Korah and his followers, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will show us who belongs to him and who is holy. The Lord will allow only those whom he selects to enter his own presence... Then Moses spoke again to Korah: “Now listen, you Levites! Does it seem insignificant to you that the God of Israel has chosen you from among all the community of Israel to be near him so you can serve in the Lord’s Tabernacle and stand before the people to minister to them?... So each of these men prepared an incense burner, lit the fire, and placed incense on it. Then they all stood at the entrance of the Tabernacle with Moses and Aaron. Meanwhile, Korah had stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron, and they all gathered at the Tabernacle entrance. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to the whole community, and the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Get away from all these people so that I may instantly destroy them!”... He had hardly finished speaking the words when the ground suddenly split open beneath them. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed the men, along with their households and all their followers who were standing with them, and everything they owned... Then fire blazed forth from the Lord and burned up the 250 men who were offering incense... But the very next morning the whole community of Israel began muttering again against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the Lord’s people!”... and the Lord said to Moses, “Get away from all these people so that I can instantly destroy them!” But Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground. And Moses said to Aaron, “Quick, take an incense burner and place burning coals on it from the altar. Lay incense on it, and carry it out among the people to purify them and make them right with the Lord. The Lord’s anger is blazing against them—the plague has already begun”... Aaron did as Moses told him and ran out among the people. The plague had already begun to strike down the people, but Aaron burned the incense and purified the people. He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague stopped. But 14,700 people died in that plague, in addition to those who had died in the affair involving Korah.
Oftentimes I turn to the word of God for hope in my difficult circumstances and am taught chapters like this one today and the question I ask God is how does this relate to where I am now?
This story of rebellion and deceit seems to have a strong connection with the earlier chapters which highlighted similar issues among the Israelites.
What Korah, Dathan and Abiram did was not very different from what Aaron and Miriam did a few chapters ago when they questioned Moses' role as the head of the Israelites.
The problem was not so much the exile in the desert as it was the question of power and preference. Everyone wanted to know 'Why Moses and Aaron' and 'Why not me'?
The reply God gave should have silenced the people but the hardness of their hearts showed up soon after when they murmured again against Moses and Aaron.
Power and preference is something that tears us apart as people even today. Lets take the church for example.
There are some of us who have held on to replacement theology as a Bible truth and therefore condemned the Jews and Israel.
Today at the occupy wall street, the Jews as a race are being blamed for the economic woes of the world and is it any different from those Mosaic times?
God's love is for all people and while He has the right to choose the Levites to be the priesthood of Israel, so does He have the right to choose the Jews to be His priesthood in the end times and we as Jews or Gentiles cannot judge or despise one another for what God has ordained because we are in effect mocking God's choice.
We are being reminded today that we should not be quick to judge others because the finger that points at another belongs to a hand whose other fingers point at the one judging.
Are we able to stand before God holding the censers and await His judgment for our actions like Aaron was?
“Aaron will present his own bull as a sin offering to purify himself and his family, making them right with the Lord. After he has slaughtered the bull as a sin offering, he will fill an incense burner with burning coals from the altar that stands before the Lord. Then he will take two handfuls of fragrant powdered incense and will carry the burner and the incense behind the inner curtain. There in the Lord’s presence he will put the incense on the burning coals so that a cloud of incense will rise over the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—that rests on the Ark of the Covenant. If he follows these instructions, he will not die. Leviticus 16:11-13
If we have forgotten, I hope we are reminded by Jesus' commandment to us, His followers, that He has given us authority to go and make disciples of all people...
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20
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