Numbers 17-19

Numbers 17‑19  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 7
UM 17-19{Mamma. Tell me, Sophy, why did God destroy Korah and his company?
Sophy. Because they despised God's priests, and thought they had as much right to be priests as Aaron had.
M. Yes; and God destroyed them in awful judgment; but there He taught His people that they must be destroyed too, unless Aaron made atonement for them. If he had not gone in quickly with his censer to make atonement for them, they would all have perished in the wilderness. But Aaron stood for God between the dead and the living, and the dreadful sickness ceased. And now God was going to show them that no one had any right at all, unless he was chosen by God. So He said to Moses, Tell the princes of the twelve tribes to take a rod each, and to write the names of their tribes on each rod, and write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi, And the Lord said, The man's rod whom I shall choose shall blossom, and I will make to cease from me the murmurings that they murmur against you. So Moses laid up the rods before the Lord in the tabernacle; and the next day, when Moses went in, he saw that Aaron's rod for the house of Levi was covered with buds and blossoms and almond fruit.
S. Did they all grow in one night?
M. Yes; that was the wonderful thing that God did to make them believe. Aaron's rod was only a stick like the rest, but God showed, that though the stick had no life or power in itself, yet that He could, if He chose, make blossoms and fruit come from it.
S. Was that to show that God chose Aaron and no one else?
M. Yes. Aaron was a poor, weak man like the rest, but God had chosen him and given him the office of a priest, that he might lead His people into the promised land. And Moses brought out all the rods to show them to the children of Israel, and each one took his own rod. But the Lord told him to put Aaron's rod back again beside the ark, to be kept before Him for a sign against the rebels. And when they saw What the Lord had done, they carne to Moses, and said, We shall all die; whoever comes near the tabernacle of the Lord shall die.
God's grace and goodness seemed to frighten them more than His judgment, for they felt how unfit they were to have to do with Him.
S. Were they glad to have Aaron lo go to God for them then?
M. Yes; and the Lord said to Aaron, You and your family shall bear the iniquity of the holy and place, the iniquity of your priesthood, and the Levites shall he joined with you in the service of the tabernacle; but you and your sons shall keep your priests' office for everything of the altar and within the vail. God gave it as a gift to Aaron and his sons; and everything that the children of Israel offered to the Lord was to be given to the priests.
The Levites were to have no inheritance among the children of Israel, because the Lord was their inheritance. But the children of Israel were to give a tenth part of all their goods to them. These tenth parts were called tithes; and the Levites were to offer a tenth part of the best of the tithes to the Lord, and that was to belong to Aaron. The tithes were the reward of their service in the tabernacle.
Now the Lord told them how they were to be made clean if they met with any defilement in the wilderness. For they had many years still to wander there; because of their unbelief; and the Lord knew that they must meet with many things that would make them unclean and unfit for His presence in the camp. So He said to Moses and Aaron, Tell the children of Israel to bring a red heifer,—that is a young cow,—without a spot upon her, and give her to Eleazar, and he shall bring her outside the camp, and some one shall kill her there; and Eleazar shall take some of her blood with His finger and sprinkle it seven times before the tabernacle. And he shall burn the heifer before Eleazar's face; every part of her, even the blood shall be burnt; and while it is burning the priest shall throw in some cedar wood, scarlet wool, and hyssop. Can you tell me what these things meant?
S. All the things that people are proud of. When they made the leper clean, you told me they took some cedar wood, and scarlet, and hyssop, with the two birds that they offered.
M. I am glad to see you remember that; the cedar is a fine, beautiful tree, and hyssop is a tiny herb, and scarlet is the grandest color man can make; so that these three things took in all human grandeur—the things that man might boast of—and all was thrown into the burning of the heifer. But all who had to do with the burning of the heifer ware unclean until the evening, and had to wash their clothes before they could come into the camp. And one was to gather up the ashes into a clean place outside the camp, and it was to be kept there for purification of sin.
S. What did they do with the ashes?
M. They put some in water, and called it the water of separation. If any one became unclean by accident, if a man died in his tent or any where near him, he was to be sprinkled with the water of separation on the third day, and again on the seventh day; and if he did not do so he remained unclean, and could not come near the tabernacle, but was cut off from Israel.
S. Is the red heifer a figure of the offering of Jesus?
M. Yes. The shedding of His blood, as we said when we talked about the sin-offering, completely put away sin; but saved people have to go through an evil world, and our hearts are careless, and we may forget what Christ has suffered or our sakes, and so we often get unclean by the things we have to pass through. His blood can never be shed again—that could be done only once; but the Holy Spirit shows us how Christ suffered on the cross for us, and how all that we are so foolishly proud of was condemned in His death, just as the cedar wood, scarlet, and hyssop were burnt with the offering; and it is a very bitter thing to our hearts to feel that we have touched something that caused our blessed Lord to suffer, and that even after we have been saved by His blood we let ourselves get unclean in the world; and then it is a great comfort to know that He has put away all the uncleanness too, as is shown in the running water, and the ashes of the heifer with which the children of Israel had to be sprinkled.
Sin was atoned for on the great day of atonement when the High Priest vent inside the vail, but the water of separation was to separate them from the uncleanness of the wilderness.