Numbers 15-16

Numbers 15‑16  •  7 min. read  •  grade level: 7
UM 15-16{Mamma. In our chapter tonight, we learn how God is above all the foolishness and unbelief of His people. Their wretchedness does not alter Him one bit. Like the sun in the heavens, which shines on, shedding its light and heat upon all around it; nothing can stop its shining—not all the rain or clouds or storms—they may keep us from seeing and feeling its pleasant light and heat, but the sun is shining all the while, as bright and as powerful as ever—and God would have us believe it. Yesterday we read how the people He had chosen for Himself rebelled against Him, and despised the pleasant land, and lost it for themselves; but God said, I am not changed; my word is the same: the children of these very men shall possess the land, and Caleb and Joshua shall have it; and now He said to Moses, Tell the children of Israel something more about the time when they shall have come into the land.
Sophy. Perhaps that was to make them quite sure that God had forgiven them, and that He would bring them in.
M. Yes. He spoke to Moses as if they were in the greatest favor; for He said, When any one brings me a free-will offering, he shall bring some wine for a drink-offering. Now wine, as we have seen before, was an expression of joy—there was to be joy in all their sacrifices of sweet savor. And there should be the same law for themselves and for the stranger that dwelt in their land. And if they did anything ignorantly, that is, when they did not know it was wrong, they were to offer sacrifices and their sin should be forgiven; but if any one sinned presumptuously, that is, willfully, God did not say they might offer a sacrifice for him; that person was to be put to death, because he had despised the word of the Lord and broken His commandment. And one day they found a man gathering sticks on the Sabbath day, and they shut him up until the Lord said what should be done to him, And the Lord said he must be put to death. Then all the congregation stoned him outside the camp.
S. Was that because he had broken God's commandment about doing no work on the Sabbath day?
M. Yes. He had willfully broken God's law. God would not allow disobedience to Him to go unpunished in His camp. And now He said to Moses, Tell the children of Israel to make fringes in the borders of their garments, and on the fringe they are to put a ribband of blue. All the children of Israel were to wear it, that they might look on it, and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, instead of following that which their own eyes admired, or what was in their foolish hearts to wish for. I told you before that blue was the heavenly color, so God's people were to have heavenly ways, and the borders of their garments, which might trail upon the earth, were to have a fringe and ribband of blue.
S. That is a very pretty thought. It was too good for such naughty people.
M. But nothing could be too good or too great for God to do for the people that He loved; even though they so often turned His grace into an excuse for their own evil. And so it was now: for Korah, one of those favored Kohathites, and two men called Dathan and Abiram, with two hundred and fifty princes, rose up against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, You take too much upon you, for all the Lord's people are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why, then, do you set yourselves up above the rent? They thought they might do without Moses and Aaron, now that God had allowed all to wear the ribband of blue. Korah, who had his own place as a Levite in the service of the tabernacle, was setting himself up against those whom God had appointed to stand before Mm, as His priest and mediator. And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face.
S. How grieved he must have been!
M. Then Moses said to Korah and his company, To-morrow the Lord will show who are His, and who is holy: for the Lord will cause those whom He has chosen to come near to Him. And now, do you all take censers, and put fire in them and incense before the Lord to-morrow; for you take too much upon you, you sons of Levi. And Moses said to Korah, Is it a small thing that the God of Israel has separated you, to bring you near Himself to do the service of the tabernacle—and do you want to be priests also? And this is the reason you are gathered together against the Lord. What is Aaron, that you murmur against him?
S. Did they do as Moses said next day?
M. Yes; and Korah gathered all the people against Moses and Aaron, to the door of the tabernacle.
Then the glory of the Lord appeared, and the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, Separate yourselves from this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment. And they fell on their faces, and said, O, God! shall one man sin, and wilt thou be angry with all Then the Lord said, Tell them all to go quite away from those three wicked men. And Moses did so, and said, Do not touch anything of theirs, or you will be destroyed in all their sine. And the people obeyed, and the three wicked men were left alone, and Dathan and Abiram came out of their tents, and stood at the door with their wives and their children. And Moses raid, Now, if the Lord does some new thing, you will believe that these men have displeased Him. And when Moses had done speaking, the ground opened under their feet, and swallowed. them up, and their houses and their goods, and they went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed over them, and all Israel saw it, and heard the cry they gave as the earth closed over them, and they were terrified and fled; for they knew that they had sinned in listening to those wicked men. And the Lord sent a fire that destroyed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.
S. How very, very dreadful! But why did Moses tell the naughty men to offer incense?
M. Because they presumed to despise the priesthood of Aaron, and dared to say that they were as holy as he, and God chose this way to show who was holy and whom He had chosen to come near Him. But after the men were dead, He said to Eleazar the priest, Take up the two hundred and fifty censers and scatter the fire—for they are holy, because they were offered to the Lord—and let the censers be made into broad plates for a covering for the altar; and it became a sign in Israel, that they might remember that no stranger, who was not of the family of Aaron, might come near to offer incense to the Lord. But the next day all the people murmured against Moses and Aaron, and said, You have killed the people of the Lord; and as they looked towards the tabernacle, the cloud covered it, and the glory appeared. And the Lord again said He would destroy them; but Moses said to Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire in it off the altar, and put incense, and go quickly in to the congregation, and make atonement for them; for the Lord is very angry, and the plague is begun. And Aaron did so, and he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped. But a great many of the people died of it. And Aaron came back to Moses, to the door of the tabernacle.
To-morrow we shall read how the Lord taught them that the priesthood which they wickedly despised was entirely of God.