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Numbers 16:16-22

Pray for your Enemies

16 And Moses said unto Korah, Be thou and all thy company before the LORD, thou, and they, and Aaron, to morrow: 17 And take every man his censer, and put incense in them, and bring ye before the LORD every man his censer, two hundred and fifty censers; thou also, and Aaron, each of you his censer. 18 And they took every man his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood in the door of the tabernacle of the congregation with Moses and Aaron. 19 And Korah gathered all the congregation against them unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the congregation. 20 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, 21 Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment. 22 And they fell upon their faces, and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?


Moses summoned Korah and the two hundred and fifty rebellious men who had followed him to appear before the Lord and Aaron at the door of the tabernacle. Each of them was to bring their censor filled with incense and bring them before the Lord. This was an opportunity for them to repent, because they knew what had happened to Nadab and Abihu when they brought strange fire in their censors into the tabernacle.

Korah and his followers obeyed and stood in the tabernacle, but they also gathered the rest of the congregation of Israel to support their rebellion at the tabernacle's door. Evil men with a thirst for power and notoriety will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. The memory of Nadab and Abihu meant nothing to Korah and company. He was like an alcoholic who knows the consequences of his addiction but ignores and even denies them. Sin is the worst addiction afflicting mankind and no one is immune to it. One small taste of sin leads to an obsession for more. The small taste of power over two hundred and fifty led Korah to entice the whole congregation to follow him.

Then the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole congregation. This was most likely the cloud that had rested over the tabernacle. John Gill suggested, "...in which was seen a glory, a brightness and splendour, or such coruscations and flashes of lightning as were very unusual and amazing, and plainly showed the Lord was there." There was no doubt that things were now getting serious.

Then God told Moses and Aaron to get safely away from the crowd and to give Him space to work. He would destroy the whole lot of them in a moment. This was not the first time that God had threatened to wipe out the entire nation and start over again with just Moses. We can be certain that they all remembered what happened when they had made and worshiped the golden calf. At that time the Levites were the only ones on God's side. Now they are the ones leading the rebellion against Him.

"And they fell upon their faces (ie. Moses and Aaron), and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?" This was the way of Moses, who was said to have been meeker than any other man. He made no accusations, demanded no revenge, and did not boast that his enemies were going to get what they deserved.

Jesus taught us to be like Moses. "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" (Matthew 5:44) That seems to have been Moses' philosophy and it is one that we should all adopt. It is amazing what happens when we love and pray for our enemies.

Lastly, it is important to note that the prayers of Moses and Aaron did not change God's mind. He knows what we desire and need before we ask and He knows whether or not we will ask Him. His answers to our prayers are therefore already built into His plans for us. Nevertheless, if there is no prayer, there can be no answer. The intercessory prayer of faithful men like Moses and Aaron will accomplish much.

Before the Throne:

Who are those who have no love for you, who despitefully use you or who desire to do you harm? To pray for them in earnest, you must first forgive them, really, fully and often. Then fall down on your face and earnestly pray for them to be forgiven by God and to be saved by the blood of Christ.

For Further Study:

(v.16)
** Be thou. Num 16:6-7; ** before. 1Sam 12:3, 7; 2Tim 2:14;

(v.17) ** 1Sa 12:7

(v.19) ** Korah. Num 16:1-2; ** and the glory. Num 16:42; Num 12:5; Num 14:10; Exod 16:7, 10; Lev 9:6, 23;

(v.21) ** Separate. Gen 19:15-22; Jer 5:16; Acts 2:40; 2Cor 6:17; Eph 5:6-7; Rev 18:4; ** that I may. Num 16:45; Num 14:12, 15; Exod 32:10; Exod 33:5; Ps 73:19; Isa 37:36; Heb 12:28-29;

(v.22) ** they fell. Num 16:4, 45; Num 14:5; ** the God. Num 27:16; Job 12:10; Eccl 12:7; Isa 57:16; Zech 12:1; Heb 12:9; ** one man sin. Gen 18:23-25, 32; Josh 7:1-26; 2Sam 24:1, 17; Rom 5:18; 1Cor 13:7;

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