Numbers 16* The rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram Korah contends forthe priesthood. (1-11) Disobedience of Dathan and Abiram.(12-15) The glory of the Lord appears The intercession of Mosesand Aaron. (16-22) The earth swallows up Dathan and Abiram.(23-34) The company of Korah consumed. (35-40) The people murmurA plague sent. (41-50)1-11 Pride and ambition occasion a great deal of mischief bothin churches and states. The rebels quarrel with the settlementof the priesthood upon Aaron and his family. Small reason theyhad to boast of the people's purity, or of God's favour, as thepeople had been so often and so lately polluted with sin, andwere now under the marks of God's displeasure. They unjustlycharge Moses and Aaron with taking honour to themselves; whereasthey were called of God to it. See here, 1. What spiritlevellers are of; those who resist the powers God has set overthem. 2. What usage they have been serviceable. Moses soughtinstruction from God. The heart of the wise studies to answer,and asks counsel of God. Moses shows their privileges asLevites, and convicts them of the sin of undervaluing theseprivileges. It will help to keep us from envying those above us,duly to consider how many there are below us. 12-15 Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram to bring theircomplaints; but they would not obey. They bring very falsecharges against Moses. Those often fall under the heaviestcensures, who in truth deserve the highest praise. Moses, thoughthe meekest man, yet, finding God reproached in him, was verywroth; he could not bear to see the people ruining themselves.He appeals to God as to his own integrity. He bade them appearwith Aaron next morning, at the time of offering the morningincense. Korah undertook thus to appear. Proud ambitious men,while projecting their own advancement, often hurry on their ownshameful fall. 16-22 The same glory of the Lord that appeared to place Aaronin his office at first, #Le 9:23|, now appeared to confirm himin it; and to confound those who set up against him. Nothing ismore terrible to those who are conscious of guilt, than theappearance of the Divine glory. See how dangerous it is to havefellowship with sinners, and to partake with them. Though thepeople had treacherously deserted them, yet Moses and Aaronapproved themselves faithful shepherds of Israel. If others failin their duty to us, that does not take away the obligations weare under to seek their welfare. Their prayer was a pleadingprayer, and it proved a prevailing one. 23-34 The seventy elders of Israel attend Moses. It is our dutyto do what we can to countenance and support lawful authoritywhen it is opposed. And those who would not perish with sinners,must come out from among them, and be separate. It was in answerto the prayer of Moses, that God stirred up the hearts of thecongregation to remove for their own safety. Grace to separatefrom evil-doers is one of the things that accompany salvation.God, in justice, left the rebels to the obstinacy and hardnessof their own hearts. Moses, by Divine direction, when all Israelwere waiting the event, declares that if the rebels die a commondeath, he will be content to be called and counted an imposter.As soon as Moses had spoken the word, God caused the earth toopen and swallow them all up. The children perished with theirparents; in which, though we cannot tell how bad they might beto deserve it, or how good God might be otherwise to them; yetof this we are sure, that Infinite Justice did them no wrong. Itwas altogether miraculous. God has, when he pleases, strangepunishments for the workers of iniquity. It was verysignificant. Considering how the earth is still in like mannerloaded with the weight of man's sins, we have reason to wonderthat it does not now sink under its load. The ruin of othersshould be our warning. Could we, by faith, hear the outcries ofthose that are gone down to the bottomless pit, we should givemore diligence than we do to escape for our lives, lest we alsocome into their condemnation. 35-40 A fire went out from the Lord, and consumed the twohundred and fifty men that offered incense, while Aaron, whostood with them, was preserved alive. God is jealous of thehonour of his own institutions, and will not have them invaded.The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord. Thecensers are devoted, and, as all devoted things, must be madeserviceable to the glory of God. This covering of the altarwould remind the children of Israel of this event, that othersmight hear and fear, and do no more presumptuously. They broughtdestruction on themselves both in body and soul. Thus all whobreak the law and neglect the gospel choose and love death. 41-50 The gaping earth was scarcely closed, before the samesins are again committed, and all these warnings slighted. Theycalled the rebels the people of the Lord; and find fault withDivine justice. The obstinacy of Israel notwithstanding theterrors of God's law, as given on mount Sinai, and the terrorsof his judgments, shows how necessary the grace of God is tochange men's hearts and lives. Love will do what fear cannot.Moses and Aaron interceded with God for mercy, knowing how greatthe provocation was. Aaron went, and burned incense between theliving and the dead, not to purify the air, but to pacify anoffended God. As one tender of the life of every Israelite,Aaron made all possible speed. We must render good for evil.Observe especially, that Aaron was a type of Christ. There is aninfection of sin in the world, which only the cross andintercession of Jesus Christ can stay and remove. He enters thedefiled and dying camp. He stands between the dead and theliving; between the eternal Judge and the souls undercondemnation. We must have redemption through His blood, eventhe remission of sins. We admire the ready devotion of Aaron:shall we not bless and praise the unspeakable grace and lovewhich filled the Saviour's heart, when he placed himself in ourstead, and bought us with his life? Greatly indeed hath Godcommended his love towards us, in that while we were yetsinners, Christ died for us, #Ro 5:8|.
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