Death in the Wilderness // Numbers 16:12-22
12. Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, “We will not come!
13. Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert? And now you also want to lord it over us?
14. Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you gouge out the eyes of these men? No, we will not come!”
15. Then Moses became very angry and said to the LORD, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.”
16. Moses said to Korah, “You and all your followers are to appear before the LORD tomorrow–you and they and Aaron.
17. Each man is to take his censer and put incense in it–250 censers in all–and present it before the LORD. You and Aaron are to present your censers also.”
18. So each man took his censer, put fire and incense in it, and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
19. When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the glory of the LORD appeared to the entire assembly.
20. The LORD said to Moses and Aaron,
21. “Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.”
22. But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, “O God, God of the spirits of all mankind, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?”
The Good Ol’ Days (16:12–15)
Have you ever looked back on the past and nostalgically longed for “the good ol’ days”? There is a danger in longing for the blessings of the past, as it can lead to ungratefulness and dissatisfaction. In verses 12–14, Dathan and Abiram look at their present problems and exaggerate how bad they have it now compared to their past life in Egypt. Though they were slaves there, that time is looking better and better in their memories—at least they had good food. They take their eyes off God and focus only on their circumstances, completely losing their perspective.
Moses’s Request for Mercy (16:16–22)
Moses presents the rebels with a challenge that will allow the LORD to choose who will be His true priests. The 250 rebels are to come before the entrance to the tent of meeting with their censers—metal pots used to burn incense in priestly worship. Only priests are permitted to enter the tent of meeting, so it is audacious of these men to show up the next morning with censers in hand. God is so angry at these rebels that He says He will destroy the entire assembly, but Moses and Aaron plead for mercy on their behalf. Just as Moses interceded for the Israelites, Christ intercedes for us today. It is only because of God’s mercy displayed through Christ that we are forgiven and spared from the judgment we deserve.
– Are you joyful in your present circumstances? God’s will for your life is in the present. Do not look back on your “glory days” or live for future possibilities. Keep your eyes on God, and keep the right perspective.
– Do you ever take for granted your standing before God? Thank God for Jesus, who intercedes for you and has purchased your pardon in full.