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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 16

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-50

Chapter 16

Now we get to chapter sixteen and this guy Korah, who is brought into mention in the book of Jude, has gotten the conspiracy together. He is of the tribe of Levi and he said, "Hey Moses, you take too much upon yourself. You've got the whole thing tied up with your family. You've appointed your brother as the high priest. Look, we're Levites and we have just as much right to offer the sacrifices to the Lord as does Aaron and we want to have a part in the service to God, more than just carrying this tent around." So Moses said, "All right. You get your little band together, two hundred and fifty guys, and you get your incense burners and you bring them with fire in them tomorrow and incense and we'll see what the Lord will do."

Well, Korah stirred up the Israelites. He gathered a big crowd around and the people were all, you know, "incensed". Yeah, Moses taking too much upon himself, whole family deal. He's just, you know, putting his family in there and all. And they were really gathered against Moses and Aaron again. And Korah the Levite was the leader of this insurrection and rebellion. And there were a couple of other fellows that Moses commanded to come and they said, "We're not gonna do it. We don't have to obey you." Dathan and Abiram.

We'll not come up ( Numbers 16:11 ):

Is it a small thing that you brought us out of Egypt and you haven't brought us up into the land? We're not in the land; this is a wilderness place? You didn't keep your word. You think we're gonna listen to you now? We don't have to come up. And so there was a real mutiny, rebellion in the camp. Korah and Abiram and all, and so Moses gathered the congregation of Israel together and he said, "Okay, you guys. You don't want to come out you just stand there in your tents with your families and kids. And all of you that want to go along with this you just stand over there. If this thing be of the Lord, then let the Lord do a new thing. Rather than you guys going on and dying natural deaths, let the Lord open up the earth and swallow you alive right down into the pit." And no sooner had Moses said it then the earth opened up and Korah and the whole rebellious troop went right down into the pit. The earth closed up again and a great fear came upon Israel.

And all of Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: Lest the earth would swallow them up also. And fire came up from the LORD, and consumed these two hundred and fifty guys with their incense burners ( Numbers 16:34-35 ).

These guys that were wanting to offer incense and all, the fire of the LORD wiped them all out. So Moses said, "All right, now take these little incense burners that were made of brass and flatten them out into plates and use these brass plates to cover the altar as a constant reminder that no one intrudes into the office of the priesthood except he be anointed and called of God." And so those brass plates over the altar were a continual reminder to the people that God had anointed and appointed the family of Aaron to the priesthood and no man takes that office unto himself or presumptuously. That is to just keep men from rising up and saying, "Well man, I'm priest over you. Now I'm the spiritual one and the holy one and I have an inside track with God".

Now in the New Testament there was to be no priesthood at all. That whole system was abolished by Jesus Christ who has become our great High Priest and has entered into heaven for us and has opened the door for all of us to have free access unto God through Him. And in the church of Ephesus, the Lord commended them in that they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which was the establishing of the priesthood laity in which the Lord said, "I hate" to the church of Pergamos rebuked them because that which was rejected by the church of Ephesus was accepted by the church of Pergamos. Thou hast there the deeds of the Nicolaitans and the Lord again declared his hatred of it. Why? Because Jesus died to make free access for every one of you to come into heaven and each of you are equally close to God.

God's ear is open to your prayer and to your cry just as readily as He is to my prayer or my cry. I am no closer to God than you. I am no more spiritual than you. I have no more access to God than you. I have no privileges that you do not have. We are all one together in Jesus Christ; equally privileged, equally blessed and equal opportunities for each of us to come before God at any time. And that's a glorious thing to me that God has broken down any kind of barriers that would hold men back and away from God. And I feel that it is dangerous in the church to set up a spiritual hierarchy, whether we call it priesthood or shepherding or anything else. Where I say to the person, "Now look, I'll go to God for you and I'll tell you what God wants you to do with your life. Now don't you trust in yourself, you trust in me and I'll get God's word and God's direction for you. So if you wanna, you know, buy a new car you come to me first and I'll tell you whether or not you should and all".

Hey I feel like Moses, Lord I didn't conceive all these people, I can't handle all that kind. I wouldn't want to carry that kind of a load. I don't want to shepherd or lord over you. I'm your servant. I'm here as God's ambassador to declare God's love and God's truth and God's Word to you. I'm here to serve you not to lord over you, not to tell you or not to try to direct your life but to tell you, "hey, you seek the Lord. You seek guidance from him." Cause I might tell you something that's absolutely wrong and then you come back and say, "You told me to do that and, man, look what happened". I've counseled too many people who've come back and said, "Man, you told me this and ooh boy. I really messed up, you know. It's just rotten, you know." That's why I don't like to counsel anymore. Man, I don't like that kind of responsibility. You seek the Lord and you let God guide you.

And so they made these plates and they were a memorial that no stranger which is not of the seed of Aaron should come near to offer incense before the LORD that they be not like Korah, and his company: [verse forty] And on the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, and said, You have killed the people of God ( Numbers 16:39-41 ).

Oh at this point I would have said, "Forget it!" Now they come to Moses said, "You've killed the people of the Lord" because the earth had opened up and swallowed these guys and the fire came out and consumed them. Now they're trying to blame Moses. Oh, oh, oh, oh, I couldn't take it. And so, boy the anger of God was really kindled against the people at this point. Moses and Aaron went in before the Lord and Moses said to Aaron, "Hey, get the incense and go out because the plague has already started. The people are beginning to drop like flies and you stand between the living and the dead and make intercession." So Moses grabbed the incense and he went out and he stood between the living and the dead to stop the plague of God that was wiping out these people for their murmuring.

There's a beautiful picture of intercession; standing between the living and the dead. And we as Christians often do this, our intercession for those that are lost.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Numbers 16". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/numbers-16.html. 2014.
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