April 18, 2011
The Rebellion of Korah
“But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘You are the ones who have caused the death of the LORD’S people.'”
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I have met people who make an entire life out of grumbling and blaming others for everything. Instead of repenting over their own sin, they ignore their own sin and try to place responsibility for sin elsewhere, anywhere except themselves. During the rebellion of Korah, the congregation failed to learn the essential lessons Yahweh taught them through the destruction of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. They completely ignored the bronze plating added to the altar. Indeed, the congregation had not come to the point where they owned their own rebellion, confessed their sin, and had faith in Yahweh’s forgiveness.
The Indictment by Grumbling–You Caused the Death of the LORD’S People. In Numbers 16:41, all the congregation of Israel grumbled (“יִּלֹּנוּ”) against Moses and Aaron. This problem with murmuring and grumbling plagued Israel. Having seen yesterday what happened to Korah and his family, they still assembled against Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16:42). After the entire congregation assembled and murmured against Moses and Aaron, the congregation turned toward the tent of meeting. The cloud of Yahweh covered the tent of meeting and the glory of the LORD appeared. At that point, I would be very concerned about what happened just yesterday when the same glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation (Numbers 16:19). Yahweh had made it perfectly clear to everyone that Yahweh Himself had opened the ground and swallowed the rebels, and fire came down from heaven to consume the two hundred and fifty with their censers. Those rebels had sinned at the cost of their lives. The specific charge here is that Moses and Aaron had caused their deaths. According to the rebels, Moses and Aaron should be held responsible.
The Omniscient God Hears Every Grumble and Warns Moses and Aaron. In Numbers 16:45, God told Moses and Aaron to get away from among this congregation, “that I may consume them instantly.” You will never say anything, or murmur anything, or grumble about anything, that God has not already known. In fact, because of God’s omniscient ears, eyes, mind, and heart (remember God is spirit (John 4:24), so I am speaking in figures of speech), you will never even think anything that God does not know what you are thinking. Remember how often Jesus confronted people about their attitudes and thoughts, even before they spoke them aloud? (see, for example, Matthew 9:4). We have here the instant response of God to the grumbling indictment of the congregation of Israel. Always remember that the congregation does not establish truth, only God is true, and acts in truth in all His ways. The indictment of grumbling brought by the congregation was not truthful, but based upon further lies (John 8:44). Just because everyone said it, it never makes it true. Resist any temptation to be caught up in the sin of the masses, because they all may be sinfully wrong.
Moses and Aaron Fell on Their Faces–Again. Moses and Aaron had been wrongfully indicted, charged with a crime they never committed, and now, once again, fell on their faces before Yahweh (Numbers 16:45). Let me emphasize here the urgency of their pleading to God before He acted. Sometimes, the emergency of sin is so great you must fall down right there, right away and start pleading with God to hold back His judgment upon sin, to seek grace and mercy for sinners. We all need friends like Moses and Aaron, and we need to be friends like Moses and Aaron for our spiritual friends. Moses and Aaron were not smarting and fretting about false charges, they fell right into intercessory prayer for the entire congregation.
Moses and Aaron Make Atonement. In the Old Testament, like the New Testament, only the blood of Jesus Christ, shed voluntarily on the cross of Calvary, makes permanent atonement for sin (Hebrews 9:11-12). The blood of bulls and goats never took away sins (Hebrews 10:4). Therefore, when we read that Moses and Aaron made atonement for the sins of the congregation, we understand that they provided a temporary covering for sin, as an act of obedience and a plea for grace by faith to the living God, Yahweh. Moses and Aaron knew that only Yahweh could stop the wrath of Yahweh going forth among the people in rebellion (Numbers 16:46). Only faith in God pardoning their sin took away sin in the Old Testament, just like in the New Testament (Romans 4:1-12).
Taking Your Stand between the Dead and the Living. Aaron stood between the living and the dead as the plague swept through the congregation in rebellion (Numbers 16:48). He held the censer, put on the incense, and made atonement for the people (Numbers 16:47). Today, the people of countries all around the world often live in rebellion against God. We can spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them, and stand between the dead and the living. Moses and Aaron witnessed the death of 14,700 rebels, besides those people who died on account of Korah (Numbers 16:48-49). Notice that God leaves no doubt that Korah, not Moses and Aaron, were responsible for the rebellion and death of the people who participated directly in Korah’s sin. In the next chapter, God takes even further steps to show that Aaron had been His choice for priest, by having a rod from each tribe of Israel placed before the LORD, and then only Aaron’s rod budded. This final sign was intended to put an end to all rebellion and all grumbling against Moses, Aaron and especially Yahweh (Numbers 17:1-12).
So we learn more about grumbling against God today.
● God hears every grumbling thought and word. When you place the blame for your sin upon other people, and grumble about them, God knows. Stand up, confess, and be freed up from sin.
● God has commissioned each believer to stand between the dead and the living, and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some will hear, believe and live.
● When you confront lies and rebellion that include attacks against you, remember to fall on your face and pray for that person attacking you without cause. God never needs to hear testimony to know who is telling the truth. He already knows and will take appropriate action. We need to pray immediately for the people grumbling that God would have grace and mercy upon them.
Application for Today
Today I will think about how God knows all of my thoughts and words. He hears every grumble, and knows every problem. I will have faith in God’s grace and love, because He took care of my grumbling and lies. I pray that I will stand today between the dead and the living, spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Life, the Savior of the world, so that people may live by faith in Him alone. Today, you have a choice: (1) you could say, well, those grumbling rebels have attacked me and God and they deserve to die; or, (2) you can fall on your face and pray, and then take your stand for the grace of God between the dead and the living, and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with rebels. Where will you stand today?