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Numbers 16:12-15

A Rejected Leader

12 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab: which said, We will not come up: 13 Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us? 14 Moreover thou hast not brought us into a land that floweth with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up. 15 And Moses was very wroth, and said unto the LORD, Respect not thou their offering: I have not taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them.


After speaking to Korah and the Levites about their rebellion, Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, to come to the tabernacle where judgment was to be made. Either they had left during his talk with them or they had not come to begin with. Nevertheless, we are told that they refused to come up to the tabernacle and defiantly rejected Moses' authority.

The message that Dathan and Abiram sent back to Moses was insulting to both Moses and the Lord. "Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a land that floweth with milk and honey,.." They referred to Egypt as the land flowing with milk and honey. It was a land of plenty, but never could have been said to be "flowing with milk and honey." The inference was that they were far better fed in Egypt than they were in the wilderness.

"...to kill us in the wilderness," They would certainly die in the wilderness, but not by starvation. They would die of old age after being forced by God to wander in the wilderness for forty years as punishment for refusing to enter the land of Canaan. Dathan, Abiram and all of the other adults, with the exception of Moses, Aaron, Caleb and Joshua, had brought the present unfortunate circumstances upon themselves by their previous refusal to trust in the Lord.

"...except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us?" It seems men always need someone on whom to blame their own miseries. I remember a time when I tried to lead a prisoner, who had been sentenced to serve ten years for his crimes, to the Lord. He was a very proud and arrogant man. When I suggested that he learn to humble himself before the Lord, he accused me of trying to make him bow down to my authority. Of course, that was not true, but he continued to tell people that for many years right up until the time of his death. Dathan and Abiram were making the accusation that Moses had brought them out of Egypt just so he could make himself their ruler. This implied, of course, that they were better off under the authority of their Egyptian slave masters than they were under all of the burdensome laws that Moses had given them.

Furthermore, the pair claimed that Moses had failed to keep his promise to them. He had not brought them to a land flowing with milk and honey. This was not true. He had led them to the promised land, but they had refused to enter. How many times I have seen men come right to the foot of the cross and then reject the offer of the only salvation that is available to them! Those same men will curse God for the miserable and hopeless lives that they have made for themselves.

"Wilt thou put out the eyes of these men?" What punishment would Moses want to inflict on Korah, Dathan, Abiram and the two hundred and fifty men who followed them in this rebellion? Would he sink so low as to put out the eyes of all of them? "We will not come up. We reject your authority and will no longer obey you."

This angered Moses and he, as he was accustomed to do, took the problem to the Lord. This time he requested that God would not accept the offering of incense, which they were to bring in their censors to the tabernacle. He swore to God that he had taken nothing from them, not even one donkey, and that he had never done anything to harm any of them.

Before The Throne:

Pray for those who would reject the freedom offered under authority of Jesus Christ, preferring the bondage of sin instead. Ask the Lord to break their hardened hearts before it is too late for them to be saved. Pray that God would always keep you from the temptation to resist spiritual authority and to lead you to properly resolve any conflicts that might rise between you and your church leaders.

For Further Study:

(v.12)
** Prov 29:9; Isa 3:5; 1Pet 2:13-14; Jude 1:8;

(v.13) ** out of a. Num 11:5; Exod 1:11, 22; Exod 2:23; ** to kill. Num 20:3-4; Exod 16:3; Exod 17:3; ** thou make. Exod 2:14; Ps 2:2-3; Luke 19:14; Acts 7:25-27,35;

(v.14) ** Moreover. Num 36:8-10; Exod 3:8, 17; Lev 20:24;

(v.15) ** very wroth. Num 12:3; Exod 32:19; Matt 5:22; Mark 3:5; Eph 4:26; ** Respect. Num 16:6-7; Gen 4:4-5; Isa 1:10-15; ** I have not. 1Sam 12:3-4; Acts 20:33-34; 1Cor 9:15; 2Cor 1:12; 2Cor 7:2; 2Cor 12:14-17; 1Th 2:10;

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