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Num 16:1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men;

Num 16:2 and they rose up before Moses with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the congregation, men called to lead the assembly, men of renown.
Num 16:3 They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, You take too much on yourself, since all the congregation are holy, each one of them, and Yahweh is among them. Why then lift yourselves up above the assembly of Yahweh?
Num 16:4 When Moses heard it, he fell on his face,
Num 16:5 and he spoke to Korah and to all his company, saying, In the morning Yahweh will show who are His, and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him. Even him whom He shall choose He will cause to come near to Him-
Paul in 2 Tim. 2:24,25 makes a series of allusions to Moses, which climax in an invitation to pray like Moses for the salvation of others:
“The servant of the Lord [A very common title of Moses] must not strive [As Israel did with him (Num. 26:9)] but be gentle unto all [The spirit of Moses] apt to teach [As was Moses (Ex. 18:20; 24:12; Dt. 4:1,5,14; 6:1; 31:22)], patient [As was Moses], in meekness [Moses was the meekest man (Num. 12:3)] instructing those that oppose themselves [at the time of Aaron and Miriam’s self-opposing rebellion] if God peradventure will give them repentance [i.e. forgiveness] [“Peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin” (Ex. 32:30)]"- and he prayed 40 days and nights for it. And note too: 2 Tim. 2:19 = Num. 16:5,26; 2 Tim. 2:20 = Num. 12:7; 2:21 = Num. 16:37; 2 Tim. 2:22 = Num. 12:2; 16:3; 2 Tim. 2:26 = Num. 16:33. This is quite something. The height of Moses’ devotion for His people, the passion of his praying, shadowing as it did the matchless intercession and self-giving of the Lord, really is our example. It isn’t just a height to be admired. It means that we will not half-heartedly ask our God to ‘be with’ brother x and sister y and the brethren in country z, as we lie half asleep in bed. This is a call to sustained, on our knees prayer and devotion to the salvation of others. For the Judaists, an appeal to be like Moses, to emulate him in teaching, was blasphemous; for they considered Moses at such a level that he could never be imitated. Yet Paul urges timid Timothy and all teachers to realistically be Moses to our audience.


Num 16:6 Do this: take censers, Korah, and all his company,
Num 16:7 and put fire in them, and put incense on them before Yahweh tomorrow; and it shall be that the man whom Yahweh chooses, he shall be holy. You have gone too far, you sons of Levi!
Num 16:8 Moses said to Korah, Hear now, you sons of Levi!
Num 16:9 Is it a small thing to you, that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of Yahweh, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them-
They didn’t consider servanthood within the family of God to be a very great honour; they wanted leadership and personal honour from those they would be over. This is the great paradox, the acme of humility, that serving is actually an honour. But there are so few who really grasp this. Leadership, like respect, is something which can never be demanded nor sought after if we are truly God’s people. Notice that to serve others in God’s family is to come “near to [God] Himself”.

"Come near before Yahweh" is usually translated "offer [sacrifice] before Yahweh", and is translated that way multiple times. Although rarely (Ex. 16:9; Lev. 9:5) it is used of the congregation coming near before Yahweh. But the congregation didn't generally want to come before Yahweh, and so He chose just the Levites to come before Yahweh (Num. 8:10; 16:9 s.w.). It was God's intention that all Israel should be His servants, a nation of priests. But He changed and ammended His approach, and chose just the Levites for this. We see here how open God is to change, so that by all means He may have relationship with His people. Under the new covenant, all believers are part of a royal priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5) as He initially intended even under the old covenant. And yet there is always the tendency to leave the priestly work to specialists rather than perceiving our personal call to do it.


Num 16:10 and that He has brought you near, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you? Do you seek the priesthood also?-
Coming near to Yahweh was something which should have been done on will and initiative of the people. But just as God brought Israel out of Egypt when they wanted to remain there, so He caused the Levites to come near to Him. This is an example of how His Spirit works upon human lives, to bring people unto Him when otherwise they would not have made the required distance of movement towards Him.


Num 16:11 Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against Yahweh; and Aaron, who is he that you murmur against him?-
 
- see on Num. 26:9. Israel’s rejection of Moses was a rejection of the God who was working through Moses to redeem them. Thus Korah and his followers “strove against Moses... when they strove against Yahweh” (Num. 26:9 cp. 16:11). Moses understood that when Israel murmured against him, they murmured against Yahweh (Ex. 16:2,7; Num. 17:5; 21:5). They thrust Moses away from them (Acts 7:27,39) - yet the same word is used in Rom. 11:2 concerning how God still has not cast away Israel; He has not treated them as they treated Him through their rejection of Moses and Jesus, who manifested Him.


Num 16:12 Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab; and they said, We won’t come up.
Num 16:13 Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, but you must also make yourself a prince over us?-
Stephen in Acts 7 stresses the way in which Moses was rejected by Israel as a type of Christ. At age 40, Moses was "thrust away" by one of the Hebrews; and on the wilderness journey the Jews “thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt" (Acts 7:27,35,39). This suggests that there was far more antagonism between Moses and Israel than we gather from the Old Testament record- after the pattern of Israel's treatment of Jesus. It would seem from Acts 7:39 that after the golden calf incident, the majority of Israel cold shouldered Moses. Once the point sank in that they were not going to enter the land, this feelings must have turned into bitter resentment. They were probably unaware of how Moses had been willing to offer his eternal destiny for their salvation; they would not have entered into the intensity of Moses' prayers for their salvation. The record seems to place Moses and "the people" in juxtaposition around 100 times (e.g. Ex. 15:24; 17:2,3; 32:1 NIV; Num. 16:41 NIV; 20:2,3; 21:5). They accused Moses of being a cruel cult leader, bent on leading them out into the desert to kill them and steal their wealth from them (Num. 16:13,14)- when in fact Moses was delivering them from the house of bondage, and was willing to lay down his own salvation for theirs. The way Moses submerged his own pain is superb; both of their rejection of him and of God's rejection of him from entering the Kingdom. The style of Moses' writing in Num. 20:12-14 reveals this submerging of his own pain. He speaks of himself in the third person, omitting any personal reflection on his own feelings: "The Lord spake unto Moses... Because you believed me not... you shall not bring the congregation into the land... and Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the King of Edom...". Likewise all the references to “the Lord spake unto Moses” (Lev. 1:1). Moses submerged his own personality in writing his books. 

Num 16:14 Moreover you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We won’t come up.
Num 16:15 Moses was very angry, and said to Yahweh, Don’t respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, neither have I hurt one of them-
Yet he was the humblest man on planet earth at the time (Num. 12:3). Anger isn’t advisable for us, as it can easily lead us into sin; but of itself, anger isn’t necessarily incompatible with humility. Yet here Moses' faith slipped for a moment; because his spirit was provoked by Israel, so that he spoke unadvisedly with his lips and was therefore barred from entering the land (although maybe such an apparently temporary slip was the reflection of deeper problems?). Yet it does seem uncharacteristic, a tragic slip down the graph of ever rising spirituality. There must have almost been tears in Heaven. Being easily provoked was one of Moses' characteristics; consider how he turned himself and stormed out from Pharaoh (Ex. 10:6; 11:8); how his anger waxed hot when he returned from the mount, how he went out from Pharaoh in great anger, how he first of all feared the wrath of Pharaoh and then stopped fearing it; how Moses was "very wroth" at Israel's suggestion that he was appropriating the sacrifices for himself; how he was "angry" with Eleazer (Ex. 32:19; 11:8; Num. 16:15; Lev. 10:16,17). This temperament explains his swings of faith. Was the Lord Jesus likewise afflicted?


Num 16:16 Moses said to Korah, You and all your company go before Yahweh, you, and they, and Aaron, tomorrow;
Num 16:17 and let each man take his censer, and put incense on them, and each man bring before Yahweh his censer, two hundred and fifty censers; you also and Aaron, each his censer.
Num 16:18 They each took his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood at the door of the Tent of Meeting with Moses and Aaron.
Num 16:19 Korah assembled all the congregation against them to the door of the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of Yahweh appeared to all the congregation-
 
v. 19
describes "the common death of all men" as being "visited after the visitation of all men"; visiting is very much Angelic language, and thus indicates that an Angel consciously causes a man to die (by taking his breath away).


Num 16:20 Yahweh spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying,
Num 16:21 Separate yourselves from among this congregation that I may consume them in a moment!
Num 16:22 They fell on their faces, and said, God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and will You be angry with all the congregation?-
It’s clear from the record in this chapter that the architect of the rebellion was Korah, the “one man” whom Moses referred to (see too :40,49; Jude 11). But he influenced others to sin, and they were still guilty for their sin. Although God doesn’t count people as guilty merely by association, He expects us not to identify ourselves with sinful behaviour- hence verses 23-25 are God’s response to Moses’ concern that God might be indiscriminately applying the unfair principle of ‘guilt by association’.


Num 16:23 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Num 16:24 Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Get away from around the tent of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram!’
Num 16:25 Moses rose up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him.
Num 16:26 He spoke to the congregation, saying, Depart, I beg you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins!
Num 16:27 So they went away from the tent of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side; and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood at the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little ones.
Num 16:28 Moses said, Hereby you shall know that Yahweh has sent me to do all these works; for they are not from my own mind-
 
- see on Jn. 5:19; Jn. 8:28.

Num. 16:28 LXX: “Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the Lord hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of myself”. The ideas of know, sent me, do these works, not of myself are so frequent in John: Jn. 13:35; 8:28,42; 7:3,28; 5:30,36; 10:25,37; 14:10; 15:24; 17:4.

“The Lord hath sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of myself” (Num. 16:28 LXX) is the basis of  “I do nothing of myself, but as the Father taught me” (Jn. 8:28).

 


Num 16:29 If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then Yahweh hasn’t sent me.
Num 16:30 But if Yahweh make a new thing, and the ground open its mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain to them, and they go down alive into Sheol; then you shall understand that these men have despised Yahweh.
Num 16:31 It happened, as he made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground split apart that was under them;
Num 16:32 and the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who appertained to Korah, and all their goods-
Korah’s sons didn’t die (Num. 26:11); they separated themselves from their father and his supporters in time. There are times when our loyalty to the Lord will result in us having to experience some kind of separation from family members who choose not to go the Lord’s way; Jesus foretold this would happen frequently (Mt. 10:34-37).


Num 16:33 So they, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into Sheol; and the earth closed on them, and they perished from among the assembly.
Num 16:34 All Israel that were around them fled at their cry; for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up!-
These people who “were around them” were saved by grace, considering the warning of :24-26, that whoever stood near those men would also perish. All the time in the Old Testament we are seeing examples of people breaking God’s law and yet being saved by grace.


Num 16:35 Fire came forth from Yahweh, and devoured the two hundred and fifty men who offered the incense.
Num 16:36 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Num 16:37 Speak to Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, that he take up the censers out of the burning, and scatter the fire yonder, for they are holy,
Num 16:38 even the censers of these sinners against their own lives. Let them be made beaten plates for a covering of the altar; for they offered them before Yahweh, therefore they are holy; and they shall be a sign to the children of Israel-
The example of sinners from previous generations ought to be a warning to us. Asaph in Psalm 73 explains how he struggled with the fact that sinners appear to have a blessed life and the righteous suffer; but when he entered the sanctuary, “then understood I their end” (Ps. 73:17), probably a reference to him beholding the plates on the altar made from the censers of these sinners.


Num 16:39 Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers, which those who were burnt had offered, and they beat them out for a covering of the altar,
Num 16:40 to be a memorial to the children of Israel, to the end that no stranger, who isn’t of the seed of Aaron, comes near to burn incense before Yahweh; that he not be as Korah, and as his company - as Yahweh spoke to him by Moses.
Num 16:41 But on the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, You have killed Yahweh’s people!-
The Hebrew for "murmur" is the word for "stop", and is usually translated in that way. The idea is that they didn't want to go further on the journey; they wanted to return to Egypt. Despite the wonder of the Red Sea deliverance. Their hearts truly were in Egypt. This sense of not wanting to go onwards towards the Kingdom, to put a brake on God's saving process, is the same temptation which in essence afflicts all God's people who have started the journey with Him.


Num 16:42 It happened, when the congregation was assembled against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the Tent of Meeting; and behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of Yahweh appeared.
Num 16:43 Moses and Aaron came to the front of the Tent of Meeting.
Num 16:44 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
 
v.
44-50 God again wants to destroy Israel and make of Moses' family a new people. Again, for the third time, Moses knows God well enough, he has enough faith, enough humility and enough true love for Israel to ask God- successfully- to relent from this. That God wanted to do this three times shows His great love for Moses.


Num 16:45 Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment! They fell on their faces.
Num 16:46 Moses said to Aaron, Take your censer, and put fire from off the altar in it, and lay incense on it, and carry it quickly to the congregation, and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from Yahweh! The plague has begun-
Again we see Moses acting on his own initiative to persuade God to change His intended plan. Moses and Aaron could only have brought about this change of mind in God by intense, fervent prayer and desire- and it was for people who had just tacitly supported a revolution against them. No matter how much we are slandered and manipulated against by our brethren, they are still God’s people and we should respect them and intercede for them as that.


Num 16:47 Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly; and behold, the plague has begun among the people: and he put on the incense, and made atonement for the people.
Num 16:48 He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stayed-
 
Aaron ought to have died for his flouting of the first commandment in making the golden calf; but Moses’ intercession alone saved him. And afterwards, deeply conscious of his experience, Aaron made successful intercession for the salvation of others (Num. 14:5; 16:22). The way he holds the censer with fire from the altar of incense, representing his prayers, and “stood between the dead and the living [as a mediator]” (Num. 16:48) is a fine picture of the height to which he rose.


Num 16:49 Now those who died by the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, besides those who died about the matter of Korah.
Num 16:50 Aaron returned to Moses to the door of the Tent of Meeting, and the plague was stayed.