April 12, 2011
Numbers 16:3, Page 245
The Rebellion of Korah
Words of Rebellion Today
“They assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?'”
We have been reading about the life of the people of Israel during their Exodus from Egypt under Moses and their travel through the wilderness for forty years. God has shown Aaron, Miriam and all the people that God has chosen Moses to lead them, and God speaks with him mouth to mouth, unlike how God speaks to all other prophets.
Korah and Two Hundred Fifty Leaders Rebel. In Numbers 16:1-3, we see a rebellion form among the entire congregation of Israel, led by Korah. “Men of renown” assembled together against Moses and Aaron. The rebellion centers upon two claims: (1) everyone in the congregation of Israel is holy; and (2) Aaron and Moses exalt themselves above the assembly of the LORD. Notice that God had already used Moses and Aaron to lead them out of Egypt and out of bondage. Now the rebels want to turn away from being led by Yahweh and His appointed leaders, turning instead to a rule by the majority, for they claim their own holiness. Yahweh will teach the people of Israel a potent lesson.
The Humility of Moses. The LORD had already described Moses as the most humble (“עָנָו“) man on the face of the earth (Numbers 12:3, page 237). When Moses heard this question from Korah and his company, Moses fell on his face (Numbers 16:4, page 245). Anytime Moses falls on his face before people, the people should immediately become very worried about what is going to happen next (remember Number 14:5, page 240). Humility in the Bible should never be confused with an inability to act, or a shrinking back in fear. Moses trusted God and did not exalt himself, even after God used him to deliver every person in rebellion standing before him today from the bondage of Egypt yesterday. This act of falling down before the accusers should have immediately signaled the rebels that Moses was not a man to exalt himself. God had elevated him to leadership. Likewise, God had chosen Aaron as the mouthpiece of Moses (Exodus 14:12-13, page 93). We should all strive in our lives to exemplify this Godly humility and humble ourselves before God and our enemies.
Tomorrow God Will Show Who Is His and Who Is Holy. The first claim that the rebels made concerned the holiness of all Israel. In Numbers 16:5, page 145, Moses now states that tomorrow God will show who is His, and who is holy (“הַקָּדוֹשׁ“). This concept of holiness bears greatly upon the central theme of Exodus. God demands and teaches the people of Israel to treat God as holy at all times. God separates men to serve Him in special ways, and like priests, they are holy to the LORD. In this case, Moses prophecies that tomorrow Yahweh will make known who is His and who is holy. God now will answer the first claim of the rebels, that everyone is holy before God. Moses alerts everyone that God will distinguish His own from everyone else who merely claims to be holy.
Tomorrow God Will Bring Near One He Chooses. In Numbers 16:5, page 245, Moses prophecies against and addresses the second claim of the rebels: that Moses and Aaron have exalted themselves above the congregation. Now Moses replies to the rebels: you demand of God proof that Yahweh has chosen Moses, then we will see whom Yahweh brings near to Himself tomorrow. The very act of challenging Yahweh to act to reaffirm the leadership of Moses signals the unholiness of the people, and their distance from God. The Lord Jesus makes us holy by His blood on the cross, to wash away our sins and clothe us in His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21, page 1809). God brings people (who really were never a people in God’s eyes), makes them holy by the grace of God and washes them in the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ, makes them into the people of God, holy and blameless before God (Ephesians 2:11-22, pages 1828-1829). Now we all live as the people of God in Christ Jesus.
So we learn that more about humility and rebellion today.
● When anyone comes against another brother with a charge of exalting himself, the one making the charge should carefully examine himself and Scripture before taking any action. Consider casting the speck out of your own eye before attacking another person (Matthew 7:3, page 1510; see also 1 Timothy 5:19, page 1858).
● Words of rebellion spring from a heart in rebellion against the Lord Jesus. If you are not near the Lord Jesus, living in His holiness, then your heart remains in rebellion against Him. If you receive His forgiveness, He will allow you to draw near in His holiness.
● All of us tend to live in rebellion, except for the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and His power. Rebellion constitutes one form sin against God. We must live by faith by listening to and following behind Yahweh Who is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Application for Today
Today I pray that I will not speak words of rebellion to the Lord Jesus. I do not want to exalt myself above anyone, and especially not against the plans and purposes of God for my life. Today, I know that God has chosen me by His grace, and drawn me near to Himself, making me perfectly holy through the blood of Jesus Christ shed for me. Are you living in holiness or rebellion today?