Evening Bible Study
The people had
become transformed from a band of delivered slaves, to an organized fighting
God had ordered Moses to send spies into the Promised Land so the people would know what it
was all about.
But ten of the spies came back with such a discouraging report, that the
people rebelled and decided they didn’t want to go into the Promised Land. God said that they would have to wait forty
years before they’d be ready.
The book of Numbers covers that forty year period of Israel wandering in
16:1-40 Korah’s Rebellion
16:1-3 Korah Rebels
: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,
– “bald” (show “Kojak” pic)
He is from the tribe of Levi,
the tribe that was assigned to be the helpers or support group for Aaron and
He is also of the family of Kohath (not Kojak), which is the family that the priests came
from. His family was the one responsible
for moving the Ark and all the important Tabernacle pieces. Aaron was also from the family of Kohath.
– “belonging to a fountain”
In the movie “The Ten
Commandments”, he was played by Edward G. Robinson, that fellow who was famous
for playing “gangsters”.
– “my father is exalted”
Dathan and Abiruam were of the tribe of Reuben.
Their tribe had no direct responsibilities with the worship at the
I don’t know if it’s important, but the tribe of Reuben was descended from
Jacob’s oldest son
Reuben. Even though their tribe could
have technically been considered the leader tribe, coming from the “firstborn”
son, it was the tribes of Joseph and Judah who typically led the nation.
I think you could make a case of these rebels being the leaders who “missed it by that
: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
– shem – name; reputation, fame,
These were men that everyone considered to be “important” in the nation of
You probably ought to be a bit careful when people start telling you how
“important” you are.
The Bible says:
(Pr 16:18 NKJV) Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.
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
:3 you take too much – “you have assumed far too much authority”, or “you
have gone too far,” or “you are overreaching yourselves”
These fellows think that Moses has made himself out to be some sort of
:3 all the
congregation is holy -
The entire book of Leviticus was meant to be a manual for the priests and
Levites, but it’s theme was all about “holiness”.
God was very concerned that if He was going to dwell among the Israelites,
that they needed to learn holiness lest He destroy them.
sons Nadab and Abihu learned the hard way about what happens when you don’t
take God’s holiness
To Korah and his group, they thought that since God had indeed been in
their midst with the pillar of cloud and fire hanging over the Tabernacle, that
this meant that all the people were holy and that they all ought to have a
share of the priestly and leadership duties.
Careful with criticism
It’s easy to criticize something that a ministry is doing when you’re on
the outside of the leadership loop. The
problem is that you may not be aware of all the things that have gone into
making all the decisions.
These fellows think that Moses has made himself to be king. They weren’t there when Moses was called by
God and Moses kept trying to back out of God’s call on his life.
Pastor David Hocking had a moral failure.
He was removed from being the pastor of Calvary Church in Tustin.
When David was struggling with all this, Pastor Chuck reached out and took David under his
arm. He spent a lot of time with
David. He counseled him. He worked at restoring David to the ministry.
Chuck took a lot of flack from people who weren’t involved. A lot of people criticized Chuck. We know that David appreciated Chuck’s trace.
We need to be careful when it comes to judging other ministries, or other
(Ro 14:4 NKJV) Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he
stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him
There are some issues that are definitely important, definitely worth being
But sometimes we do more damage than good when we criticize a situation
without really knowing what is going on.
Note: Some of the
principles we’re going to look at tonight will almost seem wrong. We’ll be looking at the dangers of rebelling against
Some of us are almost going to be tempted to take the side of Korah and his
friends. We may at times feel like they
are right, that Moses is being a bit too much of a tyrant.
There’s something in our American
DNA that seems to make us think that rebellion is right. It’s almost as if we pass it on to our kids.
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time to stand up against evil men. But sometimes we give ourselves way too much
latitude on this. Sometimes the real
issue is about us learning submission and not about being a “hero” against
injustice that might not really be injustice.
: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!”
– these are the metal tools used to burn incense.
Incense is a picture of prayer in the Bible.
(Ps 141:2 NKJV) Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up
of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
The last time we saw a censer
being used was when Nadab and Abihu brought “profane fire” (Lev. 10) into God’s
presence, fire came from God’s presence, and they died.
:7 whom the LORD
I like the way Moses wants to handle this.
He isn’t going to do the arm twisting himself. He isn’t going to debate with these fellows
about who would make a better leader.
God got him into this mess, God is going to have to get him out of
it. He is leaving it up to God.
:7 you take too much – Moses uses
their own words back at them. They are
the ones who have gone too far.
: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?
:11 Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the
LORD. And what is Aaron that you complain against him?”
:8 sons of Levi
The tribe of Levi (Korah’s tribe) was already in a pretty special position,
being chosen to serve in the tabernacle.
But they wanted more. They wanted to
be the boss.
Flourish where you are.
We need to be careful to find our place in the Lord, in the body, and grow
Every part of the body is important and has its place
(1 Co 12:15–17 NKJV) —15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am
not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should
say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of
the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the
whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?
Sometimes we can get to thinking about what it would be like to be another
part of the body. We can become consumed
with the idea of getting to that particular spot. All the while, the place where we really are
is being neglected.
The road to promotion
There are several ways to get yourself promoted.
1. You push your way in.
2. You let God handle it.
You can see this illustrated by the way that two different fellows became
king of Israel.
He kissed up to the people and criticized everything his father
did. Then one day organized a coup and
overthrew his father. Later he was defeated
and lost his throne.
He waited and waited.
Saul even tried to kill him. Even though the prophet Samuel told him he would
be king, and even though he had a couple of opportunities to criticize and even
kill Saul, he waited for God to take care of it. All the while he stayed faithful, doing the
things he was called to do (fight Philistines).
(Lk 16:10–11 NKJV) —10 He who is
faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in
what is least is unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been
faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true
Don’t despise the days of small things. Just be faithful where God has planted you. Let
God take care of it.
Jesus told a
(Lk 14:7–11 NKJV) —7 So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He
noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: 8 “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding
feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be
invited by him; 9 and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give
place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. 10
But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he
who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will
have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. 11 For whoever exalts
himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Let God do the promoting.
16:12-14 We won’t
:12 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, but they
said, “We will not come up!
: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!”
Somehow they are under the impression that Moses has done all this stuff by
himself. They think that Moses is the
one who brought them out of Egypt. They
have forgotten what God had done.
They think that Moses is going to pull one of his fancy tricks and kill
15:15-19 Censers in
:15 Then Moses was very angry, and said to the LORD, “Do not respect their
offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them.”
I like the fact that even though Moses was angry here, he still took the
whole thing back to God to let God take care of it.
:15 not taken one
donkey – Moses was not someone who had taken bribes. He hadn’t used his position to make himself
:16 And Moses
said to Korah, “Tomorrow, you and all your company be present before the
LORD—you and they, as well as Aaron.
:17 Let each take his censer and put incense in it, and each of you bring
his censer before the LORD, two hundred and fifty censers; both you and Aaron,
each with his censer.”
:18 So every man took his censer, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and
stood at the door of the tabernacle of meeting with Moses and Aaron.
:19 And Korah gathered all the congregation against them at the door of the
tabernacle of meeting. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the
:19 gathered all
the congregation – You see a little bit of Korah’s method here. He doesn’t just get the guys with the censers
to show up, but he wants to put huge pressure on Moses and so he gets “all the
congregation” to show up.
Yet God showed up as well.
:20 And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,
:21 “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume
them in a moment.”
God says He is going to wipe out the entire nation. The last time this happened (Num. 14), Moses
prayed for the people and God didn’t wipe them out.
: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?”
Moses and Aaron pray for the congregation.
They pray for the people following Korah.
They pray for God not to punish the entire nation because of the sin of a
: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
: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
The people are warned to move away from Korah.
: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.
: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.”
:30 rejected the
LORD – Because God was the one who had put Moses in the place of
leadership, the real issue these rebels had wasn’t with Moses, but with God.
:28 by this you
shall know –
It’s important that the people understand what was really behind Moses
being the leader of the nation.
Moses didn’t win an election. Moses
had been drafted by God to lead.
It’s not just ordinary earthly, human power that’s being displayed, but
supernatural power being displayed.
Moses’ whole point here is that there needed to be an extraordinary,
supernatural event take place, something totally out of Moses’ hands, that it
would prove that God had chosen Moses.
If Moses was
the leader only because he had an army of thugs who killed everyone who
disagreed with him, then his leadership had a problem.
What makes Moses’ leadership different was the display of God’s power.
Paul had his criticizers too.
(1 Co 4:18–20 NLT) —18 Some of you have
become arrogant, thinking I will not visit you again.19 But I will come—and
soon—if the Lord lets me, and then I’ll find out whether these arrogant people
just give pretentious speeches or whether they really have God’s power.20 For
the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.
Paul is saying “put your miracles where your mouth is”.
This can apply to the area of prophecy.
(Dt 18:22 NKJV) —22 when a prophet speaks
in the name of the Lord, if the
thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has
spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
If the person is truly a prophet of God, what they “predict”
will come true.
Sometimes you might wonder about why we have to take the
Bible so seriously. What if it was just
another religious book like all the other religions of the world?
The Bible is unique because it has something supernatural
involved that no other religious book has.
The coming of Jesus alone was detailed in over 300
The Bible speaks of future events with the same kind of
certainty as if they had already happened.
2. The Word.
The problem with only limiting our judgment based upon power, is that there
is another powerful entity in the universe, Satan.
Satan too can perform some pretty hefty tricks now and then.
(Dt 13:1–5 NKJV) —1 “If there arises among
you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2
and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying,
‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to
the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know
whether you love the Lord your
God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and
obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of
dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away
from the Lord your God, who
brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of
bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away
the evil from your midst.
The whole bottom line here is that if a person displays
some supernatural power, they had better be telling you to follow the LORD
(Yahweh), as revealed in the Scriptures, or else they’re in big trouble.
: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.
That was a pretty serious demonstration of power, of something
:34 Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said,
“Lest the earth swallow us up also!”
:35 And a fire came out from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and
fifty men who were offering incense.
:36 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:
: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.
Even though the men had been burnt to a crisp, God had accepted the bronze
censers and they now belonged to God.
– The old King James says they were “hallowed” … which reminds me of a story …
The day finally arrived: Forrest Gump dies and
goes to Heaven. He is met at the Pearly
Gates by Saint Peter himself. The gates
are closed, however, and Forrest approaches the gatekeeper. Saint Peter says,
“Well Forrest, it’s certainly good to see you.
We have heard a lot about you. I
must inform you that the place is filling up fast, and we’ve been administering
an entrance exam for everyone. The tests
are fairly short, but you need to pass before you can get into Heaven,” Forrest
responds, “It shore is good to be here Saint Peter. I was looking forward to
this. Nobody ever told me about any entrance exams. Shore hope the test ain’t
too hard; life was a big enough test as it was.” Saint Peter goes on, “Yes, I know Forrest. But, the test I have for you is only three
questions. Here is the first: What days
of the week begin with the letter ‘T’?
Second, how many seconds are there in a year? Third, what is God’s first name?” Forrest
goes away to think the questions over. Forrest returns the next day and goes up
to Saint Peter to try to answer the exam questions. Saint Peter waves him up
and asks, “Now that you have had a chance to think the questions over, tell me
your answers.” Forrest says, “Well, the
first one, how many days of the week begin with the letter ‘T’? Shucks, that one’s easy; that’d be Today and Tomorrow!” The
saint’s eyes opened wide and he exclaims, “Forrest! That’s not what I was
thinking, but... you do have a point though, and I guess I didn’t specify, so I give you credit for that
answer.” “How about the next one” says Saint Peter, “how many seconds in a
year?” “Now that one’s harder,” says Forrest.
“But, I thunk and thunk about that, and I guess the only answer can be twelve.” Astounded, Saint Peter says, “Twelve! Twelve!
Forrest, how in Heaven’s name could you
come up with twelve seconds in a year?” Forrest says, “Shucks, there gotta be
second, February second, March
second.......” “Hold it,” interrupts
Saint Peter. “I see where you’re going
with it. And I guess I see your point,
though that wasn’t quite what I had
in mind. I’ll give you credit for that
one too.” “Let’s go on with the next and
final question,” says Saint Peter, “can
you tell me God’s first name?” Forrest
says, “Well shore, I know God’s first
name. Everybody probably knows it. Its Howard.” “Howard?” asks Saint Peter. “What makes you think it’s Howard?” Forrest answers, “It’s in the prayer.” “The
prayer?” asks Saint Peter, “Which prayer?” “The Lord’s Prayer,” responds
Forrest: Our Father, which art in
Heaven, Howard be thy name......”
: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
: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.
So, every time you came near the altar, you’d see this hodge-podge of brass hammered onto the
A child would ask, “Daddy, why did they do such a sloppy job in making that
It was to remind them just who was to be a priest.
Do you think the Orthodox Jews are concerned about having the proper people
be priests when they start sacrifices some day soon on the Temple Mount? Yes.
I think it’s interesting that now they have discovered a common genetic
code among those who claim to be descendants of Aaron, proving that they are
what they say they are.
16:41-50 More Complaints
:41 On the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel
complained against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the
Moses killed these people?
Do they really think Moses made the ground open up?
It seems that we always want someone to blame for everything…
: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
– kaphar – to cover, purge, make
Usually this is a word we associate with sacrifice, that the blood of a
sacrifice “atones” or “covers” a person’s sins.
Here it is the smoke from the incense that will “cover” the people from the
wrath of God.
:46 take a censer
Aaron is now going to take that same censer he used previously in the
contest against Korah, and is going to offer up incense to God. By offering incense, this indicates that
prayer is being made.
Note: the difference that one
little censer will make compared to what devastation that 250 in the wrong
hands can do.
It grieves me to see so many churches where prayers are nothing more than
memorized words and rituals. To me, the
damage that people can do when they play act their “religion” is devastating.
But the real thing, real prayer, is awesome.
(Jas 5:16 NKJV) Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another,
that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails
When you see trouble coming, pray.
This sounds kind of obvious, but sometimes the last thing we think about
when we’re in trouble is praying.
I have to confess, that sometimes when I am counseling with people about
their problems, I can sometimes take a bit too humanistic approach and think
that I might be able to come up with some brilliant solution on my own that
will magically solve all their problems.
On doctor TV shows, the brilliant physician or detective enters the room,
instantly assesses the problem and astounds everyone with his amazing solution.
In reality, life isn’t so easy to figure out.
Things aren’t always what they seem.
Every once in a while I have the brilliant notion that we ought to pray
about a person’s problems.
It is amazing what prayer can do.
(Ps 34:4 NKJV) I sought the Lord,
and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.
: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
: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.
:49 stood between
– It seems as if you could have actually seen the plague spreading over the
people as they began to fall in waves.
Aaron rushes out with his incense and stands in front of the wave of
Standing in the gap
Aaron taking his incense - incense is all tied up in prayer.
It was to be a physical representation of the spiritual thing of prayer.
It had a beautiful fragrance.
It ascended up into heaven, before God’s throne.
He stopped the wave of death by standing between the living and the
dead. He “stood in the gap”.
Ezekiel lived in a very wicked time, when the nation had been carried off
to Babylon because of the judgment of God.
(Eze 22:30 NLT) —30 “I looked for someone who might rebuild the wall of
righteousness that guards the land. I searched for someone to stand in the gap
in the wall so I wouldn’t have to destroy the land, but I found no one.
God describes prayer as a “wall” that protects people.
It is a beautiful example of what we too, as priests, should be about
There are a lot of people facing God’s judgment.
One of the most important things we can do is pray.
Don’t get me wrong – some people are a little too late
with their prayers.
When a person has already died, it’s too late. The Catholic church might teach people to
pray for the dead, but after death it’s too late.
We need to pray for the living.
We need to reach out to the living.
Beauty from ashes
You might think that this would be the last you’d ever hear from Korah or
his family. It sounded as if they were
all wiped out. Not so.
You will find that some of Korah’s family survived.
(Nu 26:11 NKJV) Nevertheless the children of Korah did not die.
They became very important in the life of the nation of Israel.
become “gatekeepers” in the Temple:
(1 Ch 26:19 NKJV) These were the divisions of the gatekeepers among
the sons of Korah …
become worship leaders and songwriters.
Some of your favorite songs were written by the “sons of Korah”.
(Ps 42:title–3 NKJV) — To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of the Sons of Korah. 1 As the
deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. 2 My soul
thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God? 3
My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me, “Where
is your God?”
Are you in a place of rebellion with someone who is in authority over you?
(1 Pe 2:18–25 NKJV) —18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not
only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable,
if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20
For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it
patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is
commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also
suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22
“Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was
reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but
committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins
in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for
righteousness— by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep
going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
When you follow the way of Korah, you just live a life of
being “burned up” all the time.
When you follow the way of Jesus, you learn to commit the
mess to the Lord, you don’t strike back, others are healed through it, and God