Numbers 16 & 17. The Israelites aren’t taking too kindly to their new reality.
Numbers 16 & 17. The Israelites aren’t taking too kindly to their new reality.
“Papa’s Bible Stories” brings the Bible to life for your kids. For each episode, I pick a Bible story to talk to my very own kids about. The stories are entirely Bible-based, scripture is quoted at every opportunity, and the kids are always pointed to the Bible as the authority. And we’re not afraid of having a little fun too! It is my hope and prayer that your kids will be excited to explore God’s Word for themselves after hearing each and every episode. #bible #stories #kids #children #adventist #sda
Now last we left the Israelites, they had refused to enter the Promised Land…and so God punished them – God banished the Israelites from the Promised Land…they could not enter the Promised Land for 40 years…that is to say long enough for all the adults (those 20 years and older) to die…Promised Land would be for the next generation. Now…as you can imagine…this might have been a very hard pill for the Israelites to swallow. God was basically telling them that they would be stuck wondering in the wilderness…moving from place to place…always living in tents…never having a real home…until the day they died. They would never have any land, they would never build their homes, they would never grow any crops. And just like anyone who gets punished…the Israelites had a choice…they could either humbly accept their punishment…accept that they had really messed up and that their punishment was fair…or…they could try to fight it. And what do you kidzos think that the Israelites did? Well…you guessed it…the Israelites were going to try to fight it.
Now among the Israelites was a man named Korah. Korah was a Levite…from the same tribe as Moses and Aaron…and in fact Korah was Moses and Aaron’s cousin. And being a Levite, Korah’s family (who were called the Kohathites) had an important job…to help take care of the Tabernacle. So, naturally Korah was an important person among the Israelites. And one day not long after they had been banished from the Promised Land, it seems that Korah decided that he’d had enough of Moses and Aaron. Who were Moses and Aaron to tell them that they couldn’t go into the Promised Land? Who were Moses and Aaron to say that they all had to die in the wilderness? Who made them the kings of Israel? What gave them the right to tell everyone what to do? Weren’t they all God’s people after all?
You see, God didn’t speak to the Israelites directly. God’s way of speaking to people, both then and now, is often through prophets…which in this case was Moses and Aaron. But Korah decided that Moses and Aaron weren’t prophets…that God wasn’t speaking to the Israelites through them…and instead Korah decided that Moses and Aaron were just making things up. That it was Moses and Aaron who were being so hard on them. God wouldn’t punish them like this…I mean…they were the Israelites, the children of Abraham…the children of promise. Now of course we know that Moses and Aaron were just repeating what God had told them to say. And the Israelites had lots of proof that Moses and Aaron were prophets…even just recently with the 10 spies dying of the plague after giving a bad report. But Korah really didn’t want to believe that God had punished them…Korah didn’t want to believe that they were all going to die in the wilderness. Instead, it was much easier to believe that Moses and Aaron were the problem…to believe that Moses and Aaron had just randomly decided to banish them from the Promised Land…because it’s always easier to blame your problems on someone else.
And so, with this kind of thinking in his head, Korah decided that something needed to be done about Moses and Aaron…and he started talking to his neighbours. Now, two of Korah’s neighbours were very important leaders of the tribe of Reuben…Dathan and Abiram. And…wouldn’t ya know…they agreed with Korah…. Yah…now that we think about it, there’s no way that God would do this to us…this is just a problem with Moses and Aaron…they are ruling us like dictators…and we need to do something! And from there, the three of them started talking with other neighbours…convincing them that Moses and Aaron were the bad guys and that something needed to be done about them. And those neighbours talked with other neighbours…who talked with other neighbours…and after lots of talking, most of the Israelites became convinced…and they all decided that it was time to get rid of Moses and Aaron.
And then one day they decided that it was time do more than just talking…it was time to actually do something. And the Bible say that Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and 250 princes of the people stood up in front of all the Israelites and directly addressed Moses and Aaron and said, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?” (Num. 16:3) And with this public challenge, Korah and his friends had made it official…the Korah rebellion had begun.
Now, even though almost all the Israelites had been talking about this for a while, it seems that this rebellion completely surprised Moses, because the Bible says that, “when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face” (16:4)…just like he had done when the Israelites had decided they didn’t want to go into the Promised Land. I mean…Korah was his very own cousin! (Though perhaps Moses shouldn’t have been quite so surprised since his very own sister and brother had rebelled against Moses not that long ago.) But, unlike the last time that Moses was laying with his face in the ground, it seems the Lord spoke to Moses. Because when Moses stood up, he did so with purpose…Moses knew exactly what to do.
After Moses had stood up, he looked directly at Korah and the 250 princes, and said, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near Him.” (16:5) Basically, what Moses was saying is, “Ok…you guys want to take over for me and Aaron? Fine, but to do our jobs you will need to talk to God and go right up to Him just like we do.” And Moses continued, “Do this: take censors, Korah and all your company; put fire in them and put incense in them before the Lord tomorrow, and it shall be that the man whom the Lord chooses is the holy one.” (16:6-7) Now everyone knew that taking censors and going before the Lord was something that only Aaron and his sons were supposed to do…it was part of the priest’s job…which Korah and his friends were trying to take over. So the challenge was very simple…you guys think that you can take over…well prove it…tomorrow let’s all go before God with censors and see what happens. And with that, the showdown with Korah and the 250 princes was scheduled…tomorrow we’ll find out who was who.
Now while Moses was dealing with Korah and the 250 princes, it seems that Dathan and Abiram had snuck away. And Moses, perhaps thinking that Dathan and Abiram were maybe not quite so committed as Korah, tried to talk to them on their own. And Moses called them to come to his tent by themselves. But they defiantly refused, and said to Moses, “We will not come up! Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us? Moreover you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!” (16:12-14) So what they were basically saying is that when they left Egypt (which they called a “land flowing with milk and honey”…conveniently forgetting that they were also slaves in that land) that Moses promised that they would end up in a good land. But instead (according to them) Moses had trapped them in the wilderness. And not only that, but they were accusing Moses of being a cruel leader…someone who would poke out the eyes of someone who dared to challenge him. It seems that Dathan and Abiram were even more determined to rebel against Moses and Aaron than even Korah was.
Now, notice kidzos that the showdown was set to the next day. And this was done on purpose…the idea being to give everyone some time to cool off and really think through what they were doing. I mean…did Korah and his friends really think that Moses and Aaron were the bad guys and that they were the good guys? Did they really think that they could walk up to the tabernacle and survive? I mean…not too long ago Nadab and Abihu had been killed for just for being careless with God’s instructions about the Tabernacle…never mind doing it on purpose.
But did Korah and his friends change their minds after sleeping on it? No. No…unfortunately not. The next morning, Moses and Aaron woke up…and there they all were…Korah and all the 250 princes…all with their censors ready to go up to the tabernacle. They were going to go through with it. Because Dathan and Abiram weren’t Levites, they weren’t with Korah’s group…they were still at their tents…but they were still rebelling nonetheless. And so, Moses and Aaron joined Korah’s group and they all headed up to the tabernacle. And while they approached the tabernacle, Korah…probably thinking that this was going to be some glorious rebellion against the powers of evil…even started gathering all the Israelites to come with them. Korah wanted everyone to see their victory over Moses and Aaron.
And so, the stage was set. There was Korah and the 250 princes standing just outside the door of the sanctuary. And behind them, just outside the tabernacle, was almost all the Israelites (probably including Dathan and Abiram)…all of them in rebellion. And then there was Moses and Aaron…just the two of them…all alone. What was going to happen? How could Moses and Aaron possibly stand against all of the Israelites? What was God going to do? Well…we will find out all about it…next time.