Notes on Numbers 16-17

One fascinating story in the book of Numbers that rarely gets discussed in church is that of Korah leading a rebellion with the sons of Levi. As usual, the children of Israel were murmuring (complaining) about wandering through the desert. They once again longed for the days of being slaves in Egypt. Despite having watched God kill their friends and family with a plague, the Levites decided to take their shot at standing against the LORD.

Moses told Korah and 250 of his followers to light incense before God. Aaron and his followers were told to do the same. Korah managed to wrangle up even more people, but God allowed Moses and Aaron to convince all those extra people to leave.

Moses told them “If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me. But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up. . .ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD” (Num. 16:29-30).

The earth did open and swallow Korah and his family before closing in around them. He then sent a fire to burn up the other 250 men. God once again showed his favor for Moses and his intolerance for insubordination.

Immediately following this spectacular spectacle, the children of Israel complained AGAIN, this time blaming Moses and Aaron for the deaths of Korah and his followers.

This is a picture of what happens to us today. When God passes judgment, rather than acknowledge the power of God, skeptics blame human beings for what should otherwise be considered a supernatural event. When an opportunity doesn’t work out, it’s because of “karma” or having negative thoughts.

The power of “positive thinking” can only take us so far, it is GOD who gets us the rest of the way!

As punishment for this murmuring, God sent another plague that killed 14,700 more people.

In chapter 17, God shows the Israelites that Aaron would be the spiritual leader of the people. He was God’s final authority among the tribes. Now that the children of Israel were finally scared for their lives, would they actually begin to show Moses and Aaron some respect? Would they stop murmuring against God who continually judged them by sending miraculous ways of killing anyone who openly opposed him?

I suppose we will see.

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