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Ambassador Baptist Church
1926 Babcock Blvd
Pittsburgh, PA 15209
(412)822-7255
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February 18, 2007

Numbers 16-17
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Numbers
Chapter 16
  1. Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men:
  2. And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown:
  3. And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?
  4. And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face:
  5. And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him.
  6. This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company;
  7. And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the LORD to morrow: and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy: ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.
  8. And Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi:
  9. Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?
  10. And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also?
  11. For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the LORD: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him?
  12. And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab: which said, We will not come up:
  13. Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?
  14. Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up.
  15. And Moses was very wroth, and said unto the LORD, Respect not thou their offering: I have not taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them.
  16. And Moses said unto Korah, Be thou and all thy company before the LORD, thou, and they, and Aaron, to morrow:
  17. And take every man his censer, and put incense in them, and bring ye before the LORD every man his censer, two hundred and fifty censers; thou also, and Aaron, each of you his censer.
  18. And they took every man his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood in the door of the tabernacle of the congregation with Moses and Aaron.
  19. And Korah gathered all the congregation against them unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation.
  20. And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
  21. Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.
  22. And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?
  23. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
  24. Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.
  25. And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him.
  26. And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.
  27. So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children.
  28. And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind.
  29. 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.
  30. But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.
  31. And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:
  32. And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
  33. They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.
  34. And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also.
  35. And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.
  36. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
  37. Speak unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, that he take up the censers out of the burning, and scatter thou the fire yonder; for they are hallowed.
  38. The censers of these sinners against their own souls, let them make them broad plates for a covering of the altar: for they offered them before the LORD, therefore they are hallowed: and they shall be a sign unto the children of Israel.
  39. And Eleazar the priest took the brasen censers, wherewith they that were burnt had offered; and they were made broad plates for a covering of the altar:
  40. To be a memorial unto the children of Israel, that no stranger, which is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before the LORD; that he be not as Korah, and as his company: as the LORD said to him by the hand of Moses.
  41. But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD.
  42. And it came to pass, when the congregation was gathered against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the tabernacle of the congregation: and, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared.
  43. And Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of the congregation.
  44. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
  45. Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. And they fell upon their faces.
  46. And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun.
  47. And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people.
  48. And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.
  49. Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah.
  50. And Aaron returned unto Moses unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the plague was stayed.


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Numbers
Chapter 17
  1. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
  2. Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods: write thou every man's name upon his rod.
  3. And thou shalt write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi: for one rod shall be for the head of the house of their fathers.
  4. And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you.
  5. And it shall come to pass, that the man's rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you.
  6. And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers' houses, even twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron was among their rods.
  7. And Moses laid up the rods before the LORD in the tabernacle of witness.
  8. And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.
  9. And Moses brought out all the rods from before the LORD unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod.
  10. And the LORD said unto Moses, Bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not.
  11. And Moses did so: as the LORD commanded him, so did he.
  12. And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish.
  13. Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the LORD shall die: shall we be consumed with dying?


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Thought for the day:
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 Numbers 16 contains a fascinating look into God's protection of those that He has called into spiritual leadership. At the end of chapter 15, a man is discovered gathering sticks on the Sabbath, which was a direct violation of God's commandments. He was brought to Moses, and God instructed Moses to have him stoned to death for his sin. Chapter 16 opens with Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, along with 250 leaders of Israel, coming to Moses and Aaron to complain about their leadership. While the Bible does not expressly say that the two incidents are related, I believe that there is a strong possibility that they are. I believe that Korah and his henchmen did not approve of the decision of Moses. On the surface, they probably thought that they had a legitimate argument: after all, he was just gathering sticks. What harm can there be in that? However, the man was in violation of the law, and Moses was simply carrying out the commands of the Lord ("Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him", Numbers 15:31).

 Korah and the others felt that they had the right to tell God's chosen leaders what to do. In verse three they state,

"Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?"
In other words, they are reprimanding Moses and Aaron for being the leaders that God had called them to be. Their opinion is that since they were all part of God's chosen nation, and because they were of the tribe of Levi, this entitled them to make some of the decisions that Moses and Aaron were making. They accused the two leaders of setting themselves up above the rest of the people. In reality, it was God Who had put them into leadership positions. In Hebrews 5:4 it is written
"And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron".
Moses was called of God in Exodus 3:12:
"And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain".
Korah's real problem was that he was filled with pride, and was in rebellion against God, for it was God that had chosen Moses and Aaron. Moses understands this, for he says in verses 9-10
"Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them? And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also?"
Korah was not content with the service of the Levites that he had been given., He wanted more, and attempted to get it through rebellion against God's chosen leaders. Look at the extent to which the rebels will slander their leaders. In verses 13-14 Dathan and Abiram complain,
"Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us? Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men?"
It was not Moses' fault that the Israelites were not in the land of Canaan. It was the fault of rebels like Dathan, Abiram and Korah! Yet they blamed Moses for their problems.

 Leaders are not above sin, nor above making mistakes. Leaders should only be followed to the extent that they are following Christ ( I Cor. 11:1 - "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ"), and a leader is held to a higher level of accountability ( James 3:1) and a greater amount of discipline ( I Tim. 5:20) should he fail. However, we should remember that God has placed people in positions of leadership according to His good pleasure, and they should not be rebelled against. Hebrews 13:17 states,

"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."
Korah refused to do this, and he and his family were punished in a most profound way to prove that God was displeased with their behavior ( Num. 16:32-35). His name is forever linked with those who live among God's people and yet act in rebellion against the Lord ( Jude 1:11). May each one of us determine that we will submit to our God-given authority, to respond Biblically to the God Who leads us, and to follow the leaders that He chooses to give us.

Pastor Dr. Mark J Montgomery

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