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Numbers 16:41-50

The Servants of Sin

41 But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD. 42 And it came to pass, when the congregation was gathered against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the tabernacle of the congregation: and, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared. 43 And Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of the congregation. 44 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 45 Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. And they fell upon their faces. 46 And Moses said unto Aaron, Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the LORD; the plague is begun. 47 And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. 48 And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed. 49 Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah. 50 And Aaron returned unto Moses unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the plague was stayed.


Is this not the most incredible story that we have studied so far? God had crushed the rebellion of Korah. The horrible sight of the families of Korah, Dathan and Abiram being swallowed up by the earth was still fresh in the minds of the people. The ashes of the two hundred and fifty men who followed them were still smoldering in the camp, and the smell of burning flesh was still fresh in their nostrils. The congregation had been spared a similar fate only because of the intercession of Moses and Aaron. Yet, the word of God records that "On the morrow" there was a new rebellion.

The children of Israel murmured and accused Moses and Aaron of killing "the people of the LORD." Moses and Aaron had done nothing more than to pray for all of them. They had nothing to do with the deaths of the rebels. It should have been evident to everyone that God had cast His judgment against them. They were not the people of the LORD, but sinners who looked to serve only their own interests. But it is typical of sinners to call that, which is evil, good and that, which is good, evil.

As the crowd gathered around Moses and Aaron to do who knows what to them, the cloud of the LORD once again appeared to them over the tabernacle and the glory of the LORD shined forth. Moses and Aaron immediately went to the tabernacle to seek the will of God and perhaps also for protection from the angry mob. "For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock." (Psalms 27:5)

At the tabernacle, the LORD warned them to separate themselves from the congregation, because He was going to destroy the whole bunch. Then, Moses and Aaron fell on their faces again to make intercession for the people. This scene had become much too common during Israel's journey through the wilderness. God always responded to their prayers by sparing the majority of the people, but the worst of the sinners were made an example to the rest.

After praying, Moses told Aaron to take fire from the altar and to place it in his censer with some incense. Then he was to go among the people and make an atonement for them. As Aaron did that, he became a type of Christ, demonstrating remarkable courage and faith to save the very sinners who wished to kill him. A dangerous plague had begun in the camp, but Aaron ran to the people and stood between the dead and the living making an atonement for them with his censer. Notice the difference between the censers of Korah's followers and the censer of Aaron. The first brought death, while the other brought fogiveness.

In all, fourteen thousand seven hundred people died from the plague. Their story reminds us of how desperately we need a Savior. The people of Israel were no different than the people of today. Sinners never learn from their mistakes. "Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." (John 8:34) Sin is worse than the Egyptian Pharaoh. It will never let you go. That is why the people could have witnessed the destruction of Korah and company one day and on the very next day committed the exact same offense.

Like the congregation of Israel needed Aaron to make an intercession, so we need Jesus Christ to intercede for us. The difference is that "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) When we come to Jesus, He cleanses us from all unrighteousness and there is no more condemnation... ever.

Before The Throne:

If you do not have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, but you feel that you are being drawn to Him, surrender your life to Him today. Learn to love Him more than anything, anyone and even more than your own life. Pray and give yourself to Him. Ask Him to show you His plan for your life. Be persistent and obey what He tells you to do.

For Further Study:

(v.41)
** all the. Num 16:1-7; Num 14:2; Ps 106:13, 23, 25-48; Isa 26:11; ** Ye have. Num 16:3; 2Sam 16:7-8; 1Kgs 18:17; Jer 37:13-14; Jer 38:4; Jer 43:3; Amos 7:10; Matt 5:11; Acts 5:28; Acts 21:28; 2Cor 6:8;

(v.42) ** the glory. Num 16:19; Num 14:10; Num 20:6; Exod 16:7, 10; Exod 24:16; Exod 40:34-35; Lev 9:23;

(v.45) ** Get you up. Num 16:21, 24, 26; ** And they. Num 16:22; Num 20:6; 1Chr 21:16; Matt 26:39;

(v.46) ** from off. Lev 9:24; Lev 10:1; Lev 16:12-13; Isa 6:6-7; Rom 5:9-10; Heb 7:25-27; Heb 9:25-26; Re 8:3-5; ** and put. Ps 141:2; Mal 1:11; ** an atonement. Exod 30:7-10; Lev 16:11-16; 1John 2:1-2; ** there is wrath. Num 1:53; Num 8:19; Num 11:33; Num 18:5; Lev 10:6; 1Chr 27:24; Ps 106:29;

(v.47) ** and ran. Matt 5:44; Rom 12:21; ** and behold. Ps 106:29; ** and he put. Num 16:46; Deut 33:10-11; Isa 53:10-12;

(v.48) ** Num 16:18, 35; Num 25:8-11; 2Sam 24:16-17, 25; 1Chr 21:26-27; 1Thess 1:10; 1Tim 2:5-6; Heb 7:24-25; Jas 5:16; John 5:14;

(v.49) ** fourteen thousand. Num 16:32-35; Num 25:9; 1Chr 21:14; Heb 2:1-3; Heb 10:28-29; Heb 12:25;

(v.50) ** Num 16:43; 1Chr 21:26-30;

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