Numbers 15 Ė 17

 

In Chapter 15:1-16 God talks to Moses and instructs him to tell the children of Israel that when they enter the promise land and them make their various sacrifices God wants it done in a specific way. When you think about God continually reminds the children of Israel how do things his way we can clearly see how important it is for us do things his way. This a concept that the religious world really needs to think about. They are constantly adding to and taking away from the word of God to suite their needs but I can promise you they will not be happy when it comes to the judgment day.

 

2 Thessalonians 1:6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you,7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,

 

From passages like these we learn a great lesson to pay very close attention to Gods will and not our own. Now the Lordspeaks to Moses again,

 

Numbers 15:17 Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,18 "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you come into the land to which I bring you,19 'then it will be, when you eat of the bread of the land, that you shall offer up a heave offering to the LORD.20 'You shall offer up a cake of the first of your ground meal as a heave offering; as a heave offering of the threshing floor, so shall you offer it up.21 'Of the first of your ground meal you shall give to the LORD a heave offering throughout your generations.

 

Again we see God teaching the principle that we are to give our best or our first to God. The word heave simple contribution.

 

In verse 22 Ė 31 we find out what is to be done with those who break God commandsunintentionally and intentionally. First it deals with the congregation. If the entire congregation commits some sort of sin and they didnít realize it then they are to

 

Numbers 15:24 .. offer one young bull as a burnt offering, as a sweet aroma to the LORD, with its grain offering and its drink offering, according to the ordinance, and one kid of the goats as a sin offering.25 'So the priest shall make atonement for the whole congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them, ..

 

If an individual sin unintentionally they are to offer up a female goat for their sin and they to will be forgiven. However, if someone does it on purpose knowing full well what they are doing they are to be cut off from the camp and their guilt be left on them.

 

From these verses we see how destructive sin can be. Even when a person sins unintentionally there was a need for a sacrifice to be made. When think about these laws it really causes me to be thankful that we are no longer under the law of Moses but under the system of grace. I am sure that we have all sinned unintentionally from time to time and may still not be aware today that we have sinned against God but I believe thatthe grace of God covers these things. However, I personally think that its important that we not only ask God forgivenessfor the sins that we know that committed but to ask for forgiveness for those sins that we donít know that we committed just as the children had to make offering for those sins they didnít know they had committed.

 

Numbers 15:32 Now while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day.33 And those who found him gathering sticks brought him to Moses and Aaron, and to all the congregation.34 They put him under guard, because it had not been explained what should be done to him.35 Then the LORD said to Moses, "The man must surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp."36 So, as the LORD commanded Moses, all the congregation brought him outside the camp and stoned him with stones, and he died.

 

Again, we see seriousness of God for his people to obey his commands. When I think about this story it reminds of how denominations view the church of Christ. They will say oh those poor people they are so strict they need to loosen up and just love God. They will make statements such as God doesnít care about the small matters like the use of musical instruments or weather or not we partake of the Lords Supper on a weekly basis because he just wants us to love him and his grace will cover the rest. This is why there is so many denominations is because many do not take God word serious. This man inour story probably thought, ah there is not harm is gathering sticks its not that much God will over look it. But, we see what happened to him and while this did take place under the OT the same seriousness to keep the word of God is applies to the NT as well. Why else would Paul make such statementsas;

 

1 Corinthians 4:6 ††Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other.

 

Galatians 1:6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel,7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

 

Lets this man who decided to pick up sticks and break the command of God to serve as example to us as Christians today to take the word of God seriously and not to allow ourselves to think that we can get away with abusing Gods grace.

 

 

Numbers 15:37 Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,38 "Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners.39 "And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined,40 "and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God.41 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God."

 

Notonly didGod remind them by word he made them start wearing these tassels so that they could remember thatthey are to obeyGods commands. This was another memorial that God into place.

 

In chapter 16 a rebellion takes place.

 

Numbers 16:1 Now Korah the son of Izhar,(yitz Ė har) the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan (daw Ė than) and Abiram (ab-ee-rom) the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men;2 and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown.3 They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?"

 

Here we go again, these men think that they are equally qualified to be the leaders of the congregation and they accuse Moses of making himself greater than everyone else. Which simply is not true and we can see this in Moses response.

 

Numbers 16: 4 So when Moses heard it, he fell on his face;5 and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, "Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him. That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him.6 "Do this: Take censers, Korah and all your company;7 "put fire in them and put incense in them before the LORD tomorrow, and it shall be that the man whom the LORD chooses is the holy one. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!"8 Then Moses said to Korah, "Hear now, you sons of Levi: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 work of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to serve them;10 "and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also?

 

Notice Moses doesnít act like dictator here and command the people to kill these men. No, instead he bids them to let God decided thismatter. First Moses talks to the Levies and beginto see what their motivation is to take part in this rebellion. It seems that the Levites were beginning to thank highly of themselves because God had separated themout for a specific purpose. If you will remember not all the Levites could priest and only the descendants of Aaron could be high priest. It appears they did not like that rule because Moses ask them are you seeking the priesthood as well? This is common thing that you can read about in history. Many of the rebellions that are started is because agroup of people decide they donít like the rules and so they try to over throw the leaders so they can be in power and make their own rules. Now this can work when it man that is making the rules but whenGod makes the rules a rebellion is futile and thatís exactly what these men are about to find out.

 

After this Moses tries to talk to these other men that were involved in this rebellion but the refused to come to him and notice what they say.

 

Numbers 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, that you should keep acting like a prince over us?14 "Moreover you have not 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 will not come up!"

 

Here more false accusations directed at Moses andas continue on the next verses you find that this makes Moses mad and he ask God not to accept their offerings because Moses had not brought any harm to these men. The next day the 250 and Moses and Aaron light their censors and then the glory of the Lord appears to them and God tell Moses and Aaron to separate themselves from the congregation and he will wipe them all out.But, notice what Moses does,

 

Numbers 16:22 Then they fell on their faces, and said, "O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?"

 

Now Moses wasnít happy that these men were rebelling but he did not want the whole congregation to have to pay for these men. So look at Gods solution.

 

Numbers 16:23 So the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,24 "Speak to the congregation, saying, 'Get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.' "25 Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him.26 And he spoke to the congregation, saying, "Depart now from the tents of these wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins."27 So they got away from around the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, with their wives, their sons, and their little children.28 And Moses said: "By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will.

 

Moses wants them to understand that none of things that he has done starting from the time there were in Egypt until now were his doings. In fact you might remember that Moses didnít want to do the Lords bidding in the beginning and he made all kinds of excuses of why he shouldnít do it but finally he accepted command and had been doing Gods bidding ever since.

 

Numbers 16:29 "If these men die naturally like all men, or if they are visited by the common fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me.30 "But if the LORD creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected the LORD."31 Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them,32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods.33 So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly. 34 Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, "Lest the earth swallow us up also!"

 

Can you imagine how scary that was to see the ground literally open and underneath these men and their family and to watch themfall deep into the earth because of the rebellion. No wonder the children of Israel ran away from that place in fear. But, it didnít stop there because God sent out a fire that consumed those 250 that had participated in this rebellion.

 

Numbers 16:37 "Tell Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, to pick up the censers out of the blaze, for they are holy, and scatter the fire some distance away.38 "The censers of these men who sinned against their own souls, let them be made into hammered plates as a covering for the altar. Because they presented them before the LORD, therefore they are holy; and they shall be a sign to the children of Israel."39 So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers, which those who were burned up had presented, and they were hammered out as a covering on the altar,40 to be a memorial to the children of Israel that no outsider, who is not a descendant of Aaron, should come near to offer incense before the LORD, that he might not become like Korah and his companions, just as the LORD had said to him through Moses.

 

Once again we see God setting up a memorial for all the children of Israel to remember what happen when you try to rebel against God. As dramatic an event this was you would think that the children of Israel would think twice about complaining are rebelling against God again. However, we know that the track record of these people has not been good and once again they willfail to let the message of God sink in and whatís sad is that they do it the very next day.

 

Numbers 16:41 On the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, saying, "You have killed the people of the LORD."42 Now it happened, when the congregation had gathered against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tabernacle of meeting; and suddenly the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared.43 Then Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of meeting.44 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,45 "Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment." And they fell on their faces.46 So Moses said to Aaron, "Take a censer and put fire in it from the altar, put incense on it, and take it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from the LORD. The plague has begun."47 Then Aaron took it as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the assembly; and already the plague had begun among the people. So he put in the incense and made atonement for the people.48 And he stood between the dead and the living; so the plague was stopped.49 Now those who died in the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those who died in the Korah incident.50 So Aaron returned to Moses at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, for the plague had stopped.

 

It is times like these whenI read about the children of Israel that I simply do not understand. How could they see such a miraculous event just the day before and have the gall to turn on Moses and rebel against God once again. If Moses was not there leader a great many of the people would have already been dead. But, Moses over and over again had saved these rebellions hard headed Jews by appealing to God. Almost 15,000 people lost their lives because they were rebelling against God. God offers one more solution to appease the rebels.

 

Numbers 17:1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and get from them a rod from each father's house, all their leaders according to their fathers' houses -- twelve rods. Write each man's name on his rod.3 "And you shall write Aaron's name on the rod of Levi. For there shall be one rod for the head of each father's house.4 "Then you shall place them in the tabernacle of meeting before the Testimony, where I meet with you.5 "And it shall be that the rod of the man whom I choose will blossom; thus I will rid Myself of the complaints of the children of Israel, which they make against you."6 So Moses spoke to the children of Israel, and each of their leaders gave him a rod apiece, for each leader according to their fathers' houses, twelve rods; and the rod of Aaron was among their rods.7 And Moses placed the rods before the LORD in the tabernacle of witness.8 Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds.9 Then Moses brought out all the rods from before the LORD to all the children of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod.10 And the LORD said to Moses, "Bring Aaron's rod back before the Testimony, to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put their complaints away from Me, lest they die."11 Thus did Moses; just as the LORD had commanded him, so he did.12 So the children of Israel spoke to Moses, saying, "Surely we die, we perish, we all perish!13 "Whoever even comes near the tabernacle of the LORD must die. Shall we all utterly die?"

 

This miracles of budding of the rod would forever show that preeminence of Aaron and that he is the God chosen high priest. At the end of this chapter we see the fear of death expressed by the children of Israel but really donít see a true repentance offered here just a fear for their life.