Dave Burnette's Commentary

Numbers Chapter 16

Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Moses
Date Penned: (1450-1410 BC)
Overview: A Record of Israel's Unbelief (c 1-27)
Theme: Wandering in The Wilderness (c 15-21)
Message: Rebellion in the Camp (v 1-50)

Numbers 16 Commentary

(16:1-3) A Priesthood that Served God - Korah and his associates had seen the advantages of the priesthood in Egypt. Egyptian priests had great wealth and political influence, something Korah seemed to want for himself. Korah may have assumed that Moses, Aaron, and his sons were trying to make the Israelite priesthood the same kind of political machine, and he wanted to be a part of it. He did not understand that Moses' main ambition was to serve God rather than to control others.

(16:8-10) Some Priests Served Themselves -  Moses saw through the rebels' charge to their true motivation -some of the Levites coveted the power of the priesthood. Like Korah, we often desire the special positions God has given others. Korah had significant, worthwhile abilities and responsibilities of his own. In the end, however, his ambition for more caused him to lose everything. Inappropriate ambition is greed in disguise. Concentrate on finding the special purpose God has for you instead of wishing you were in someone else's shoes.

(16:13-14) Focusing on Our Problems - One of the easiest ways to fall away from following God is to look at our present problems and exaggerate them. Dathan and Abiram did just that when they began to long for better food and more pleasant surroundings. Egypt, the place they had longed to leave, was now looking better and better they were ready to look past the slavery and taskmasters because they were thinking about the mouthwatering food! These two men and their followers had completely lost their perspective. When we take our eyes off God and start looking at ourselves and our problems, we begin to lose our perspective as well. Overrating problems can hinder your relationship with God. Don't let difficulties make you lose sight of God's direction for your life.

(16:26) Following Rebels - The Israelites were told not to even touch the belongings of the wicked rebels. In this situation, doing so would have shown sympathy to their cause and agreement with their principles. Korah, Dathan, and Abram were directly challenging Moses and God. Moses clearly stated what God intended to do to the rebels (16;28-30). He did this so that everyone would have to choose between following Korah or following Moses, God's chosen leader. When God asks us to make a fundamental choice between siding with wicked people or siding with him, we should not hesitate to commit ourselves to be 100 percent on the Lord's side.

(16:27-35) Korah's Sons Survive -  Although the families of Dathan and Abiram were swallowed up, the sons of Korah were not wiped out (see 26:11).

(16:41) Bitterness Follows Rebellion - Just one day after Korah and his followers were executed for grumbling and complaining against God, the Israelites started all over with more muttering and complaining. Their negative attitude only caused them to rebel even more and to bring about even greater trouble. It eroded their faith in God and encouraged thoughts of giving up and turning back. The path to open rebellion against God begins with dissatisfaction and skepticism, then moves to grumbling about God and present circumstances. Next comes bitterness and resentment, followed finally by rebellion and open hostility. If you are often dissatisfied, skeptical, complaining, or bitter-beware! These attitudes lead to rebellion and separation from God. Any choice to side against God is a step in the direction of letting go of him completely and making your own way through life.

Dave Burnette's Life Application

What is Your Motivation?

Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter making an application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Many applications can be made from each day's text. Today we continue the book of Numbers with Chapter 16 and in today's text we see Israel has rejected the Promise land and is now in there 40 years in wandering in the wilderness. Today we see Korah, Dathan, and Abiram rebel against Moses to attempt to overtake his leadership position desiring the power and wealth that came with this position. Moses had a heart to serve the Lord and the Lord showed Himself strong taking the rebellious men and opening the ground swallowing them up. In making application we see the price of rebelling against the leadership in the house of God or trying to gain position with the wrong motives comes with a tremendous price. How about you? What are your motives for serving the Lord? Are they one of love and devotion to the Lord or are they self serving to you for political and social gain? Let us learn from Korah and check our motives for serving the Lord lest we too see the judgement of God in our lives.


Numbers 16

Numbers 16

 1Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men:

 2And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown:

 3And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?

 4And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face:

 5And he spake unto Korah and unto all his company, saying, Even to morrow the LORD will shew who are his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near unto him: even him whom he hath chosen will he cause to come near unto him.

 6This do; Take you censers, Korah, and all his company;

 7And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the LORD to morrow: and it shall be that the man whom the LORD doth choose, he shall be holy: ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi.

 8And Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi:

 9Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?

 10And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also?

 11For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the LORD: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him?

 12And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab: which said, We will not come up:

 13Is 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?

 14Moreover 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.

 15And 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.

 16And Moses said unto Korah, Be thou and all thy company before the LORD, thou, and they, and Aaron, to morrow:

 17And 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.

 18And 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.

 19And 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.

 20And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,

 21Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.

 22And 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?

 23And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

 24Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.

 25And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him.

 26And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of their's, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.

 27So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children.

 28And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind.

 29If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me.

 30But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.

 31And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:

 32And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.

 33They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.

 34And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also.

 35And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.

 36And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

 37Speak unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, that he take up the censers out of the burning, and scatter thou the fire yonder; for they are hallowed.

 38The censers of these sinners against their own souls, let them make them broad plates for a covering of the altar: for they offered them before the LORD, therefore they are hallowed: and they shall be a sign unto the children of Israel.

 39And Eleazar the priest took the brasen censers, wherewith they that were burnt had offered; and they were made broad plates for a covering of the altar:

 40To be a memorial unto the children of Israel, that no stranger, which is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before the LORD; that he be not as Korah, and as his company: as the LORD said to him by the hand of Moses.

 41But 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.

 42And 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.

 43And Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of the congregation.

 44And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

 45Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. And they fell upon their faces.

 46And 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.

 47And 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.

 48And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.

 49Now they that died in the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died about the matter of Korah.

 50And Aaron returned unto Moses unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the plague was stayed.


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