Today’s selected reading continues in the Old Testament book of Numbers which was written and recorded by Moses the servant of the LORD. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters seventeen through twenty of this Old Testament book. When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find a secondary narrative and account of the LORD drawing a clear distinction between those who claim they are His and those are are truly His. As I sit here today and consider the tremendous reality of what is found within the seventeenth chapter I can’t help but also be drawn to the previous chapter when Korah and those who aligned themselves with him attempted to challenge the authority that was placed upon Moses by the living God Himself. In all reality, I would dare say that you cannot read the seventeenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers without also taking the time to read the sixteenth chapter. What’s more, is that I find it absolutely and incredibly interesting is how these chapters draw a clear and distinctive line between those who claim and state they belong to the living God and those who have truly and indeed been anointed and ordained by the living God. It’s quite remarkable to think about and consider that in the sixteenth chapter we find Korah who was a son of Kohath who was a son of Levi attempting to raise up his hand against the Lord’s anointed in order to secure his own position among the congregation. We dare not miss and lose sight of that which is found in the sixteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers, for within it we find a rebellion of priesthood and princes alike as they mounted a joint rebellion against the authority that was vested in Moses by the LORD God of the Hebrews. I cannot help but be absolutely and completely gripped by the tremendous reality that the rebellion led against Moses in the sixteenth chapter of the book of Numbers was not led by some random individual from among the twelve tribes of Israel, but it was led by one who was among the sons of Kohath who were sons of Levi—those who were given charge over the sanctuary. In all reality, it’s almost as if the ministry of the sanctuary wasn’t enough for Korah and he dared speak against Moses, against the authority that was placed upon Moses, and even against the holiness of the living God. While Korah didn’t offer strange fire before and in the presence of the living God as Nadab and Abihu did who died before the LORD when a fire came out before Him and consumed them, but Korah dared assume more for himself than the charge of the sanctuary and that which was appointed and entrusted unto him. I feel the great need to emphatically declare that there is something incredibly dangerous and tragic about those who attempt to take on more than that which they have been entrusted with, and those who attempt to mount a rebellion against the ordained and appointed authority that was given by the living God.
What we find within the sixteenth and seventeenth chapters of the Old Testament book of Numbers is the LORD God of the Hebrews showing and displaying those who are is by and through supernatural means. If we are to truly understand that which is found within these chapters you must understand that when the LORD drew a distinction between those who were truly His and those who were anointed and ordained by Him, He did so—not according to natural means, but rather through supernatural means. The chapters which are before us in the Old Testament book of Numbers are truly remarkable and astounding, for on two separate occasions the LORD God deliberately and intentionally revealed unto the congregation and assembly those who were truly His, and those who presumed to take upon themselves that which was not given unto them. In the seventeenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers there was no direct challenge to the authority that was placed upon Moses, nor was there any direct challenge which was placed by any among the congregation of the children of Israel, but there was a clear demonstration concerning those who were the LORD’s and those who were truly anointed, ordained and appointed by Him. In order to understand what is before us within these chapters it is absolutely necessary to consider the dialogue which took place between Moses and Korah, and those who threw themselves into alignment with him. It’s necessary to consider that which Korah, the two-hundred and fifty princes who aligned themselves with him, as well as Dathan and Abiram, and even On who were all sons of Reuben. If you begin reading with and from the opening verse of the sixteenth chapter of the book of Numbers you will find the following words which describe the events as they unfolded there in the wilderness. What makes this even more intriguing is when you think about the fact that the congregation of the children of Israel had just been told by the LORD that all those twenty years of age and older would perish in the wilderness and that they could neither return to the land of Egypt, nor enter into the land of Canaan. In the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers you will find the congregation of the children of Israel being told by the living God that their children whom they believed would be a prey for the inhabitants of the land of Canaan would actually enter into the land of Canaan instead of them. What’s more, is when you think about and consider the fact that in the final verses of the chapter you will find the congregation of the children of Israel thinking they could go up into the land of Canaan and take possession of it—even after the living God had declared that an entire generation would fall in the wilderness because of their temptation of the living God.
Before I delve into that which is found in the sixteenth chapter it’s worth noting a strong comparison between an entire generation which not only would and could not enter into the land of Canaan, but also which would perish in the wilderness before the living God, and the generation of the religious which were present during the days of Jesus the Christ. It’s worth noting and pointing out that in the days and generation of Moses there was an entire generation which would and could not enter into the divine rest of the land of Canaan, and would instead find their bodies falling in the wilderness over a period of forty years, while during the days of Jesus there were those among the religious community and system who would and could not enter into the kingdom of heaven because of their hypocrisy. In order to get an idea of that which is found in the fourteenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers it is worth journeying into the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews and read what the author of this epistle wrote concerning that generation which was present during the days of Moses there in the wilderness. If you begin reading with and from the twelfth verse of the third chapter you will find the following words which were written concerning that generation which was present during the days of Moses and Aaron—that generation which not only would and could not enter into the divine rest of the promised land, but also whose bodies would fall and perish in the wilderness. Consider if you will the following words which were written in this New Testament epistle beginning to read with and from the twelfth verse of the third chapter:
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitful ness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; while it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was He grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:12-18).
“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all His works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus (Joshua) had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his won works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:1-13).
The words which we find written in the third and fourth chapters of the New Testament epistle which was written unto the Hebrews were actually not new words which were written, but were found in the Old Testament book of the Psalms. If you begin reading with and from the seventh verse of the ninety-fifth chapter of this Old Testament poetic book you will find the following words which were written by the psalmist: “For He is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest” (Psalm 95:7-11). If you transition back into the seventy-eighth chapter of this same Old Testament book you will find the psalmist speaking in another place concerning this generation which did tempt the living God in the midst of the wilderness—and not only tempted Him, but tempted Him for forty years while they journeyed and wandered in the wilderness. If you begin reading with and from the fifth verse of the seventy-eighth chapter of this Old Testament book you will find the following words which were written by the psalmist concerning this generation which was present before the LORD in the wilderness during a period of forty years. Consider if you will the following words which are found within this chapter in order to not only get a sense of what happened when the ten spies returned from scouting out the land of Canaan, but also what happened during the forty years the congregation of the children of Israel wandered in the midst of the wilderness:
“For He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: that the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments: and might not be as their fathers, a stubbing and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God. The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle. They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law; and forgat His works, and His wonders that he had shewed them. Marvelous things did He in the sight of their fathers, in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan. He divided the sea, and caused them to pass through; and He made the waters to stand as an heap. In the daytime also he led them with a cloud, and all the night with a light of fire. He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths. He brought steams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers. And they sinned yet more against Him by provoking the most High in the wilderness. And they tempted God in their heart by asking meat for their lust. Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, He smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? Can he provide flesh for his people? Therefore the LORD heard this, and was wroth: so a fire was kindled against Jacob, and anger also came up against Israel; because they believed not in God, and trusted not in his salvation: though he had commanded the clouds from above, and opened the doors of heaven, and had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of heaven. Man did eat angels’ food: he sent them meat to the full. He caused an east wind to blow in the heaven: and by His power He brought in the south wind. He rained flesh also upon them as dudes, and feathered fowls like as the sand of the sea: and he let it fall int eh midst of their camp, round about their habitations. So they did eat, and were well filled: for he gave them their own desire; they were not estranged from their lust. But while their meat was yet in their mouths, the wrath of God came upon them, and slew the fattest of them, and smote down the chosen men of Israel. For all this they sinned still, and believed not for his wondrous works. Therefore their days did He consume in vain its, and their years in trouble. When he slew them, then they sought Him: and they returned and inquired early after God. And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer. Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues. For their heart was not right with him, neither were they steadfast in His covenant. But He, being full of compassion, forgave their iniquity, and destroyed them not: yea, many a time turned he turned his anger away, and did not stir up all his wrath. For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. How oft did they provoke Him in the wilderness, and grieve Him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They remembered not his hand, nor the day when he delivered them from the enemy. How he had wrought His signs in Egypt, and his wonders in the field of Zoan: and had turned their rivers into blood; and their floods, they could not drink. He sent divers sorts of flies among them, which devoured them; and frogs, which destroyed them. He gave also their increase unto the caterpillar, and their labour unto the locust. He destroyed their vines with hail, and they sycamore trees with frost. He gave up their cattle also to the hail, and their flocks to hot thunderbolts. He cast upon them the fierceness of his anger, wrath, and indignation, and trouble, by sending evil angels among them. He made a way to His anger; he spared not their soul from death, but gave their life over to the pestilence; and smote all the firstborn in Egypt; the chief of their strength in the tabernacles of Ham: but made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies. And he brought them to the border of his sanctuary, even to this mountain, which his right hand had purchased. He cast out the heathen also before them, and divided them an inheritance by line, and made their tribes of Israel to dwell in their tents. Yet they tempted and provoked the most high God, and kept not his testimonies: but turned back, and dealt unfaithfully like their fathers: they were turned aside like a deceitful bow” (Psalm 78:5-55).
It is clear from the words which are found in the ninety-fifth and seventy-eighth chapters of the Old Testament book of Psalms that the generation which was present in the midst of the wilderness—that generation which had witnessed and beheld the manifestation of the power of God in Egypt and at the Red Sea, and experienced his provision in the wilderness—provoked and tempted the living God over and over and over again. There was an entire generation which would emerge from the slavery and bondage of the land of Egypt, would pass through the waters of the Red Sea, and would even come unto the mountain of God in the wilderness and behold His glory, His presence and His voice, and yet would not enter into the land of inheritance, promise, possession and rest. Instead of that generation which emerged from the land of Egypt and which had passed through the waters of the Red Sea entering into the land of inheritance, promise and blessing, their bodies would fall and die in the wilderness, and their children—an entirely different generation would enter into the land of promise, inheritance and blessing in their place. I wrote and mentioned that there is a strong comparison between an entire generation that would not enter into the rest which was provided by the LORD in the land of Canaan—a land of rest which was unto them inheritance, possession, promise and blessing—and the generation of religious folk during the days of Jesus who would not enter into the kingdom of heaven. During the days of Jesus the Christ there would be those who would not enter into and inherit the kingdom of God because of their hypocrisy in the sight of the living God. In the thirty-first verse of the New Testament gospel of Matthew we find Jesus the Christ speaking unto the chief priests and elders of Israel which had come unto Him asking by what authority He spoke the words He did, and performed the works which He did. When the chief priests and elders of the people of Israel could not answer the question which Jesus presented unto them He responses with the following words which are found in the thirty-first verse of the twenty-first chapter:
“Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publican and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe in him” (Matthew 21:31-32).
WHEN A NEW GENERATION INHERITS THE PROMISED LAND! WHEN HARLOTS AND PUBLICANS INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN! I can’t help but think about and draw a powerful similarity between that second generation in the wilderness which would enter into the land of Canaan to inherit and take possession of it, and the harlots and publicans during the days of Jesus which would enter into and inherit the kingdom of heaven. What’s more, is with that being said, in order for that second generation to enter into the land of Canaan that first generation would have to perish in the wilderness as their corpses would fall to the floor of the wilderness. The harlots and publicans which were alive during the days of Jesus would enter into and inherit the kingdom of heaven because they not only believed the word which Jesus spoke, but they also believed the word which John the Baptist preached and repented at his preaching. The words which are found in the New Testament epistle written unto the Hebrews contain powerful language concerning those who would not be able to enter into the land of Canaan, nor into the rest which the LORD God had for them because of their unbelief and because of the hardness of their hearts. As you read the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter you will find that after countless times of testing and tempting the living God in the wilderness—ten times to be exact—the living God had finally had enough and would have initially destroyed and wiped them out as a whole were it not for the intercession of Moses on their behalf. What we find in the fourteenth chapter is actually astonishing and remarkable when you think about it, for while the LORD God of the Hebrews would have originally destroyed the entire congregation of the children of Israel and made of Moses a nation greater and mightier than they were. Moses, however, was meeker than every other man in that generation and threw himself down before the living God in intercession on behalf of the congregation of the children of Israel. The LORD would hear and answer the cry and intercession of Moses, and He would not destroy and wipe out the entire congregation of the children of Israel, but He would require that that generation—all those which were twenty years of age and older perish in the wilderness while their children would enter into the land instead of them. Consider if you will the words which are found within the fourteenth chapter beginning to read with the tenth verse of the fourteenth chapter:
“And the glory of the LORD appeared in the Tabernacle of the congregation before all the children of Israel. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? And how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they. And Moses said unto the LORD, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (For thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;) and they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou LORD art among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night. Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying, Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness. And now I beseech thee, let the power of my LORD be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying, The LORD is long suffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of thy mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now. And the LORD said, I have pardoned according to thy word: but as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD. Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles, which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not heartened to my voice; surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that provoked me see it: but my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereunto he went; and his seed shall posses it. (Now the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwelt in the valley.) To morrow turn you, and get you into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea. And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, How long shall I bear with this evil congregation, which murmur against me? I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against me. Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me, doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised. But as for you, your carcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness. And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcasses be wasted in the wilderness. After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise. I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die. And the men, which Moses sent to search the land, who returned, and made all the congregation to murmur against him, by bringing up a slander upon the land, even those men that did bring up the evil report unto the land, died by the plague before the LORD. But Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of the men that went to the search the land, lived still. And Moses told these sayings unto all the children of Israel: and the people mourned greatly” (Numbers 14:10-39).
AN EVIL AND UNBELIEVING GENERATION MUST PERISH IN THE WILDERNESS! A NEW GENERATION WILL INHERIT THE PROMISED LAND IN THEIR STEAD! THE DEATH OF EVIL MEN WHO SLANDERED THE LAND OF PROMISE! THE REBELLION OF PRIEST AND PRINCES ALIKE! THE SUPERNATURAL DEATH OF REBELLION IN THE MIDST OF THE ASSEMBLY! THE BLOSSOMING OF THE ROD OF THE ANOINTED! WHEN THE EARTH OPENS HER MOUTH AND FIRE COMES OUT FROM BEFORE THE LORD! I am convinced that in order to understand that which is found and written in the seventeenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers it is absolutely imperative that we first understand that which is found in the previous chapter. In all reality, I would dare say the words and narrative we find in the seventeenth chapter are intrinsically connected to the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter. It is in the sixteenth chapter we find and discover Korah who was one of the sons of Kohath who gathered unto himself vile and base men who would align themselves with his rebellion against the authority which was placed upon Moses. This is actually quite astounding when you think about and consider it, for just a few chapters earlier we find Miriam speaking against Moses concerning the authority which was upon him. The words which Miriam spoke unto Moses centered upon the reality of whether or not the living God had spoken only unto, only through and only by him. The narrative and account goes on to reveal how the glory of the living God appeared in the midst of the congregation of the children of Israel and spoke unto Moses. What happens next is truly remarkable, for what you find immediately after the cloud was lifted up and the glory departed from the tabernacle of testimony was that Miriam was leprous and became white as snow. Even more than this we find that Miriam was put out of the camp for seven days because the plague of leprosy which had come upon her body had made her unclean in the sight of the living God. What an incredible judgment befell Miriam on this day when she dared raise up her voice—not merely against Moses and against the authority that was placed upon Moses, but also against the Lord Himself and the authority that was within the Lord. There is not a doubt in my mind that Korah, Dathan, Abiram and all the two hundred and fifty princes of the congregation of the children of Israel which were famous among them were aware of the striving of Miriam against Moses and the judgment the Lord wrought against her by striking her with leprosy.
As I sit here this morning I can’t help but think about and consider the absolutely incredible and tremendous reality that Korah was so incensed against Moses that even though he beheld and witnessed that which happened to Miriam he still thought it was to lift up his voice and heart against Moses. What’s more, is that not only did Korah think it fit to lift and raise up his voice against Moses, but there were also two hundred and fifty princes among the congregation of the children of Israel who agreed and aligned themselves with him. What is so unique about Korah and his rebellion against Moses was that he was a son of Kohath and was a son of Levi. What’s more, is that the sons of Levi as a whole were taken from among the congregation of the children of Israel and were separated unto the Lord for the purpose of the work of the ministry of the sanctuary. Even more than this, we find that the sons of Kohath were given a very specific purpose and assignment within the work of the ministry of the sanctuary and were given charge over the instruments and furniture of the tabernacle. This is evidenced through the words which Moses spoke unto Korah when he addressed his rebellion against him, for Moses proceeded to ask Korah if it wasn’t a small thing that the living God separated the sons of Levi—including himself—from among the congregation of the children of Israel. What’s more, is that Moses would go on to ask whether it was enough that the living God gave the sons of Levi charge over the sanctuary for the work of the ministry therein. Even more than this, we find Moses asking if Korah and the sons of Levi would desire the priesthood as well. The question Moses asked Korah is actually quite intriguing when you think about and consider the fact that he was already given charge—together with the rest of the sons of Kohath—over the sanctuary and that which was holy, sacred and consecrated before and unto the living God. The question Moses asked Korah was actually quite astounding when you truly take the time to think about and consider it, for it almost seems as though the intentions of Korah was to take unto himself more authority and more power than he was given access to by the living God. Undoubtedly Korah would have witnessed fire coming out from before the Lord and consuming Nadab and Abihu when they offered strange fire before the Lord which He commanded them not to. Undoubtedly Korah would have watched as two of the priests of the Lord—two of the sons of Aaron the high priest himself—were struck down and killed before the Lord by a consuming fire which broke out against them. Korah would have seen how the living God handled rebellion against the living God and would have seen the glory of the Lord in the midst of the people, and even the devouring and consuming fire of the Lord which would break out against those who oppose Him.
What I find to most alarming about the narrative and account of Korah and the rebellion which he mounted against Moses in the midst of the wilderness was the audacity of it. Despite having witnessed how the golden calf was handled, despite witnessing how the LORD handled the unauthorized fire which Nadab and Abihu offered before the LORD, and how the living God consumed them with fire from His presence, and even witnessing and beholding how the living God handled Miriam daring to speak against Moses, Korah still insisted on speaking against Moses in the midst of the congregation and assembly of the children of Israel. What is so absolutely disturbing is when you think about and consider the words which Moses spoke unto Korah who was himself a son of Kohath and a son of Levi. If you turn and direct your attention to the fourth verse of this chapter and begin reading with and from this particular verse you will find some absolutely incredible words which were spoken to that one—perhaps others from the sons of Levi who aligned themselves together with Korah in his rebellion before the congregation of the children of Israel. Beginning to read with and from the fourth verse of the sixteenth chapter you will find the following words which were not only spoken by Moses at the moment when Korah dared raise himself up in the midst of the congregation of Israel, but also written and recorded as a testimony for all who would read the words in the coming generations. Consider if you will the words as they were written in this chapter beginning with the fourth verse:
“And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face: 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. This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company; 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. And Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi: 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? For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the LORD: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him” (Numbers 16:4-11).
Pay close attention to the words which are written and recorded in this particular passage of Scripture, for within these verses you will find Moses asking Korah if it seemed a small thing unto him that the God of Israel separated him from the congregation of Israel, to bring him near to Himself to do the service of the taberancle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them. What’s more, is Moses would go on to speak unto Korah and declare how the living God had brought him near unto Him, and all his brethren the sons of Levi with him, and yet did they also seek the priesthood also? Please don’t miss the incredible importance and significance in what is written and recorded within these verses, for the words which Moses spoke unto Korah not only described the separation that was upon him as he was taken from among the congregation of Israel to be holy unto the LORD, but he was also taken and separated from the congregation of Israel with his brethren, the sons of Levi, for the purpose of the work of the ministry of the sanctuary. Korah was among those who was responsible for abiding in the place of intercession between the sanctuary and the people lest the wrath of God break out against and upon the people, and yet the question that must be asked is what happens when Intercessory grow dissatisfied with their station and with their position. Korah was among the sons of Kohath who were among the sons of Levi who were given charge over the sanctuary and tabernacle, and was among those who were responsible for abiding in between the congregation of the children of Israel and the sanctuary lest the wrath of God break out against the people. What’s so absolutely incredible about that which is found within the sixteenth chapter is that instead of Korah abiding in that place of intercession between the sanctuary and the congregation, he would instead find himself in the place where the wrath and judgment of the living God would break forth and break out against Him. WHEN JUDGMENT COMES UPON THE INTERCESSORS! WHEN JUDGMENT COMES AGAINST THE INTERCESSORS IN THE ASSEMBLY! WHEN JUDGMENT BREAKS OUT AGAINST THE MINISTERS OF THE SANCTUARY! The narrative concerning Korah describes how Moses instructed all the congregation of the children of Israel to remove themselves away from Korah, from Dathan and Abiram, and from all their goods, and all their belongings, and all their household lest they be swept away and consumed in the anger and wrath of the LORD against them. What I find so absolutely captivating within this passage is that this would now be the second time the LORD would be angry with priests of the LORD and those who were consecrated and separated before and unto Him. In the Old Testament book of Leviticus we find the anger and wrath of the LORD breaking out against the sons of Aaron—Nadab and Abihu—when they offered strange fire before the LORD which He neither commanded, nor authorized. Now we find the anger and wrath of the LORD once more being kindled against sons of Levi, for Korah would raise and lift up his voice against Moses, and even against Aaron.
The absolutely remarkable truth that is found within the sixteenth chapter is that Korah was among the sons of Kohath who were ordained and appointed by the living God for the purpose of the work of the ministry of the sanctuary, and yet it would appear that Korah felt completely and absolutely justified in the words which he spoke against Moses, as well as against Aaron. It’s incredibly tragic when instead of doing the work of the sanctuary, Korah instead chose to lift up and raise his voice against Mose and against Aaron his brother who was the high priest anointed with the holy anointing oil in the midst of the congregation of the children of Israel. What I can’t help but ask myself is what Korah should have been doing at this particular moment instead of making the decision to lift up and raise his voice against Moses and against Aaron. If Korah was among the sons of Kohath and was given charge over that which was sacred and holy, what was he not doing that he should have been doing? If I am being honest with myself and with those who are reading the words of this writing, we allow ourselves to be placed in a tremendous and incredible place of compromise and temptation when we cease doing those things which we have been called and chosen by the living God to do. We place ourselves in an incredibly dangerous and precarious place in the sight of the living God when we stop doing that which we know we ought to be doing. What’s more, is I would dare say that we place ourselves in a very dangerous place and position when we cease doing those things which are good and perfect for our lives, and allow ourselves to engage in other endeavors and actions which the LORD has not asked or required of us to do. A perfect example of this narrative and truth is found in the life of David king of Israel. If you turn and direct your attention to the eleventh chapter of the Old Testament book of Second Samuel you will find a period of time within the life of David the king of Israel when he stopped doing that which he had done most of his life, and even that which he should have been doing as king, and as a result of his ceasing doing what he knew he ought to be doing, he allowed himself to be placed in a position and place of compromise. Consider if you will the words which are found in the eleventh chapter beginning with the first verse of the chapter:
“And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joan, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem. And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bath-sheba, the daughter of Elian, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned unto her house. And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child” (2 Samuel 11:1-5).
Perhaps the single greatest reality surrounding the narrative of David king of Israel at this time during his life was that at the time when kings go forth to battle—instead of David going himself with the armies of Israel out to battle, he sent Joan, and his servants with him, and all Israel. Instead of going out to battle at the time when all kings went forth to battle, David chose to remain behind in the city of Jerusalem, and chose to remain and abide in his palace instead of the battlefield. Oh, there is something to be said about those who know what they ought to be doing and yet instead of doing what they ought to be doing they choose to refrain from doing it. It is in the New Testament where we find and read that for him who knows to do right and doesn’t do it, it is considered and counted as sin. Please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this incredible reality, for those who know to do what is right and yet deliberately and intentionally don’t do it—unto them it is actually counted and considered as sin. What we find in the narrative and account of Korah was that he was given charge of the sanctuary, together with his brethren who were the sons of Levi, and there is a part of me that can’t help but wonder what Korah should have been doing instead of lifting up and raising his voice against Moses, and even against Aaron. In the fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers you will find the assignment of Korah who was among the sons of Kohath. If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the fourth chapter you will find the following words which are found within this chapter:
“And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, by the house of their fathers, from thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter into the host, to do the work in the tabernacle of the congregation. This shall be the service of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation, about the most holy things: and when the camp setteth forward, Aaron shall. Come, and his sons, and they shall take down the covering vail, and cover the ark of testimony with it: and shall put thereon the covering of badgers’ skins, and shall spread over it a cloth wholly of blue, and shall put in the staves thereof. And upon the table of shewbread they shall s read a cloth of blue, and put thereon the dishes, and the spoons, and the bowls, and covers to cover withal: and the continual bread shall be thereon: and they shall spread upon them a cloth of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put in the staves thereof. And they shall take a cloth of blue, and cover the candlestick of the light, and his lamps, and his tongs, and his snuffdishes, and all the oil vessels thereof, wherewith they minister unto it: and they shall put it and all the vessels thereof within a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put it upon a bar. And upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue, and cover it with a covering of badgers’ skins, and shall put to the staves thereof: and they shall take the instruments of minister, wherewith they minister in the sanctuary, and put them in a cloth of blue, and cover them with a. Covering of dangers’ s skins, and shall put them on a bar: and they shall take away the ashes from the altar, and a spread a purple cloth thereon: and they shall put upon it all the vessels thereof, wherewith they minister about it, even the censers, the fleshhooks, and the shovels, and the basons, all the vessels of the altar; and they shall spread upon it a covering of badgers’ skins skins, and put to the staves of it. And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vessels of the sanctuary, as the camp is to set forward; after that, the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it: but they shall not touch any holy thing, lest they die. These things are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation. And to the office of Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest pertaineth the oil for the light, and the sweet incense, and the daily meat offering, and the anointing oil, and the oversight of all the tabernacle, and of all that therein is, in the the sanctuary, and in the vessels thereof. And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, Cut ye not off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites: but thus do unto them, that they may live, and not die, when they approach unto the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in, and appoint them every one to his service and to his burden: but they shall not go in to see when the holy things are covered, lest they die” (Numbers 4:1-20).
It is quite clear and quite obvious when reading the words found within the fourth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers that the sons of Kohath were given the charge of carrying the furniture of the Tabernacle when the congregation and assembly of the children of Israel moved according to the command of the LORD. I read the words which are found within this passage and I can’t help but wonder and consider what the sons of Kohath did when the congregation and assembly of the children of Israel remained and abided in a single place—particularly and especially if the cloud tarried over the sanctuary for more than a night, or even a day. What did the sons of Kohath do among the congregation and assembly of the children of Israel so long as the Tabernacle was set up in the midst of the assembly there in the wilderness? Is it possible that what we find and what we read here within this passage is a truly astounding and remarkable picture—perhaps of discontentment with the assignment that was given unto the sons of Kohath? We don’t’ know whether or not there were other sons of Kohath who participated in the rebellion of Korah, so we can’t say what they themselves were doing, but what we can say is that they were all. Separated and made holy before and unto the living God. The sons of Kohath were responsible for carrying the articles and furniture of the tabernacle upon their shoulders during and along the journeys the children of Israel took in the midst of the wilderness. Korah, however, sought to take upon himself that which was neither authorized, nor commanded and instructed by the living God, and Moses’ question is quite telling when you think about and consider it, for Moses asked Korah whether or not he desired the priesthood also. It is possible that Korah desired something beyond his station and beyond what he was ordained and appointed to do by the living God, and the entire purpose and reason for his speaking against Moses and Aaron was to attempt to elevate himself among the congregation and assembly of the children of Israel. It might very well be that Dathan and Abiram—together with all those aligned themselves with them—desired that which was not authorized and appointed unto them, and as a result of their desire they aligned themselves with the rebellion of Korah which spoke against Moss and Aaron. The words which we find within this passage are absolutely and incredibly tragic when you think about and consider them, for there was that one—perhaps others—who should have been abiding in the place of intercession in the midst of the assembly and congregation of the children o fIsrael, and yet instead of interceding on behalf of the congregation they sought to elevate themselves. Instead of abiding in that place of intercession between the congregation and the wrath of God, this son of Levi instead placed himself in the direct path of the wrath of God.
When you come to the seventeenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Numbers you will find the LORD instructing Moses to take from among the congregation of Israel twelve rods—one rod for each tribe according to the head of the household, and the name of each tribe was to be written upon each individual staff. Moses was also to take the staff of Aaron and write the name Levi upon it, and together with all the other staffs they were to be placed in the tabernacle of testimony in order that they might be a sign unto the congregation and assembly concerning those which belonged to the LORD, and those which were truly the LORD’s. Scripture reveals that in the morning after the staffs had abided in the tabernacle of testimony over night, Aaron’s rod not only budded, but also sprouted and blossomed and brought forth almonds. What we must realize and recognize concerning this particular event which took place within the history of the congregation of the children of Israel was that it was not only designed to reveal who truly belonged to the LORD and who was indeed the LORD’s, but it was also to put and bring an end to the murmuring and complaining of the people of the LORD concerning that one—perhaps even those who are anointed. It’s quite intriguing to think about the fact that the narrative and account of Miriam speaking against Moses, and the narrative of Korah together with those who aligned themselves with him, and even the narrative of the rods which were placed in the presence of the LORD all centered upon the absolutely incredible reality of who is anointed of the LORD. If we are being honest with ourselves and with the living God who authored this book of Scripture we must acknowledge that everything we find and everything we read in these chapters centers upon the reality of just who is anointed by the living God. What’s more, is that throughout the generations and throughout history people have always wanted to know and understand who it is that truly has the authority, and who it is that truly has the power. The narratives and accounts found within these chapters are centered upon the dual inquiry of anointing and authority, for not only will men always seek to question who is truly anointed and who truly has authority, but men can and will also seek to challenge and question those who have authority and are anointed of the living God. We dare not miss and lose sight of what is found within these chapters, for the underlying narrative and theme that is woven throughout each of them is that of authority and anointing, and who is truly anointed and who truly has authority from the living God.
We dare not miss and dare not lose sight of this absolutely incredible reality, for to understand this reality will not only help us to understand that which is found within these chapters, but also help us to understand and discern our own hearts. Throughout history man has always questioned and has always desired to know who it is that has authority, and who among us is truly anointed of the LORD. Another example and account of this reality is when David’s men encouraged him to kill Saul when he had the chance and opportunity to do so, and yet instead of killing Saul, David declared and spoke unto them concerning his inability to raise up and lift his hand against the LORD’s anointed. David recognized that Saul was still the anointed of the LORD, and that to stretch forth his hand against him would be to raise his hand against the LORD’s anointed. Oh please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this reality, for if you truly want to understand that which is found within these chapters you need to recognize and understand that everything here is predicated upon the reality concerning who is anointed of the living God and who indeed has authority within their lives and upon them. We must consider the words which are found within these chapters and truly understand how we ourselves—not only view authority and anointing, but we handle and treat those who are anointed, and those who have the authority of God upon them. Everything we find within these chapters hinges upon the reality of anointing and authority, and who exactly is anointed by the living God, and who exactly has been given authority from and by the living God. Oh that we would read the words which are found within this chapter and would understand how we ourselves treat authority and anointing, and our own respect for the anointing and authority of the living God. Oh that we would read the words which are found within these chapters and would truly understand the condition of our hearts concerning the authority and anointing of the LORD, and that which He places and bestows upon others. Oh that we would keep our own hearts from speaking against the anointing and authority of the living God, and that we would keep our feet from seeking to elevate ourselves beyond the place we have been ordained and appointed by the living God.