The Lord’s judgment had fallen upon those who rose up against God’s anointed leaders, but this was not enough to quell rebellious hearts. No, no, God’s chosen people–liberated from slavery, chosen to be a kingdom priests, and possessors of God’s particular promises–were now set on placing blame for what had just transpired on the innocent.
“But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You are the ones who have caused the death of the Lord’s people.”
Previous to God’s judgment of Korah and those involved in the rebellion against Moses, Korah and his coup were graciously provided with an opportunity to be found right before God. Moses had said to them, “…take censers for yourselves, Korah and all your company, and put fire in them, and lay incense upon them in the presence of the Lord tomorrow; and the man whom the Lord chooses shall be the one who is holy.” This was not a situation where a leader was fearful of losing his position of power. No, Moses came to God for a decision, and the circumstances surrounding God’s judgment were fair, equitable, and judicious. The fact that those remaining among the tribes of Israel were blaming Moses for the violent death of their kinsman only demonstrates the fact that their perspectives were entirely wrong and focused on themselves. They saw only what they desired to see, until their eyes were turned toward the tent of meeting…
“It came about, however, when the congregation had assembled against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tent of meeting, and behold, the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared.”
God’s presence and righteous judgment among His people was preparing itself for execution–once again. The high-hand raised against God and His anointed would not stand, and would therefore suffer violence until an attitude of submission and acceptance permeated its community. And so, the heart of man only once again reveals itself–desirous of its own end. In their mind, Moses and Aaron were to blame for the deaths of Korah’s camp and the others. They simply couldn’t see the motivations that caused God’s judgment to ensue. And so it is with all of us, but what happens next in this biblical narrative points to a greater reality that we all must consider…
“Then Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.””
The congregation stood guilty before God. They had raised their hands against His anointed leaders, and God’s judgment was coming down upon them. It was a physical manifestation of the fact that God’s character stands against unrighteousness, and ultimately His wrath will be poured out against perpetrators of His holy standards. The congregation–by their own actions–is guilty and on the brink of entire decimation–until…
“Then they fell on their faces. Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense on it; then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the Lord, the plague has begun!” Then Aaron took it as Moses had spoken, and ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. He took his stand between the dead and the living, so that the plague was checked.”
In the face of complete devastation, the leaders–accused of the people’s death–came to the rescue. Moses and Aaron stepped in as mediators, and they stayed the hand of God. Incredible. God has once again shown that His presence among men is accompanied by leaders who stand in for the congregation, and point to a greater reality when God’s own Son will do the same.
How Does this Apply to Us Today?
Approximately 1,400 years after this event took place in history, there was a carpenter from the town of Nazareth who would make the claim that His death and subsequent resurrection were necessary to deal with mankind’s sin.
Guilty. Ashamed. Alone. The dilemma of every soul without the saving belief that Jesus Christ died in their place to pay the penalty for their sin. God’s hand moved in judgment against the congregation of Israel the day they rose up against Moses and blamed him for the death of their kinsman. It was stayed, but only for a time. While one would like to think that mankind’s perspectives have changed since that time, this is simply not the case. How many wars have ensued since this event took place with Moses? How many broken homes? How many broken marriages? How many abused and abandoned kids and spouses? How many nations oppress their people under systemic genocide and subjugation? How many coups have been raised up against those in power until they are in power only to find their power is lost to others hungry for power?
Mankind’s desire from birth is for himself and herself. There is no hope to change their vision. Glasses can’t fix their vision. Contacts can’t fix their vision. Not even Lasik can fix mankind’s vision of the world, of God, of themselves, of others, and where this life is headed. And, as a result, they stand condemned before a holy God for pursuing their own ends. No good thing in the history of mankind has ever been performed without some desire of selfishness–except one.
God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law to redeem those who are under the law. Jesus, like the Moses of old, stepped in. But, He didn’t just stay the hand of God only to be once again raised against a rebellious humanity. No, no, the God-man received the plague, the punishment, the wrath of God–stored up against mankind–on behalf of mankind in order to provide a way for mankind to be reconciled to God.
Glory to our God. We have a Mediator who doesn’t just stay the hand of God, but receives its–once and for all–violent execution. This is yet another reason Why Christ Had to Die…— October 6, 2017