April 15, 2011
Numbers 16:22, Page 246
The Rebellion of Korah
Anger and Intercession
“But they fell on their faces and said, ‘O God, God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, will You be angry with the entire congregation?'”
In the pages of Scripture, Moses will always stand as a giant of intercessory, servant leadership. Time and again, Moses interceded with God to spare both individuals and the entire congregation of Israel. As we will see, intercession means that one man prays for other people and pleads their cause before God.
The Anger of Moses. Moses became very angry over the words of rebellion spoken by Korah, Dathan and Abiram. In Numbers 16:15, we read that Moses became very angry (“יִּחַר“) with Dathan and Abiram for their lies against him. Moses told Yahweh he had done nothing to harm any of them, and in fact, had not taken a single donkey. My friend laughed when he read the donkey part, but we do not deal in donkeys today, as they did then. Notice that Moses, when filled with anger, still prayed and plead his case to Yahweh. After praying, Moses directed Korah and his company (the rebels), along with Aaron, to prepare their fire pans and assemble at the doorway to the tent of meeting (Numbers 16:17-20, page 246).
The Intercession of Moses. Moses had this great quality that his anger hardly ever caused him to lose control and act foolishly. In this case, with Korah and company, Moses had every right to be angry about their lies and rebellion. Now in Numbers 16:21, Yahweh tells Moses that He will consume the entire congregation instantly. Remember that the entire congregation had sided with Korah and company against the leadership of God through Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:19, page 246). Even so, Moses and Aaron fall upon their faces before God. Notice that the rebels in this passage never fall on their faces before God. They stand in their pride, while Moses and Aaron fall down in their humility. Moses prays to Yahweh and says: “O God, God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, will You be angry with the entire congregation?” (Numbers 16:22, page 246). Moses knew that his intercession worked because of the next verse.
Saving Your Friends from Death. Because Moses prayed for the congregation, Yahweh told the congregation to get back from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Numbers 16:24, page 246). Then the congregation moved back, Moses prophesied an unusual death by the ground swallowing the rebels, and God opened the earth and Korah, Dathan and Abiram, with all their households, went down alive into Sheol (Numbers 16:25-34). Moses never allowed his anger to stop him from praying for the congregation. In God’s eyes, they all deserved to die because they had all joined the rebellion, except Moses and Aaron. We can expect ourselves and our friends to do many rebellious acts during our lifetimes. We will always need the intercessory prayers of friends and leaders. Be sure that you do not get so angry with your friends that you stop praying for them, especially when you have good reason to be angry with them.
So we learn more about intercessory prayer, which means we pray for other people and plead their cause before God.
● Rebellion often produces anger in people who receive an unfair attack upon them. Lies, delusions, and attacks can make people very angry.
● Anger should never cause us to lose our spiritual cool. Instead, we should recognize that rebellious people need intercessory prayers, and we should fall on our faces before God and seek His mercy and grace for people living in rebellion. They need repentance, love and restoration, which God may graciously visit upon them.
● True friends pray for other friends caught up in lies and rebellion, no matter how angry their rebellious friends make them. As Christians, we can expect lies to be told about us by both believers and unbelievers. How do we respond to such behavior? Fall on your face and pray for them.
Application for Today
Today I want to spend some time praying for people I know who live in rebellion against God and His plans for their lives. I also intend to keep my anger in check, so that I can pray for people who have made me angry. Are you angry with someone today? Have they lied about you? Are you ready to intercede for them in prayer before the Lord Jesus Christ today?