Moses was under attack again. This time it was Korah and 250 well known community leaders. Driven by a lust for power, they presented themselves before Moses demanding he justify his appointment as their leader. “We are all holy” he cries emboldened by the gang behind him, “So why do you set yourself above us?!”
Moses fell face down in horror then he warned them that they had just provoked God. He instructed them to turn up in the morning with their censors and await God’s judgement on the matter.
They weren’t happy! They berated Moses and Aaron for bringing them from the land of luxury to the desert. Nevertheless the 250 turned up next morning before the Tent of Meeting as instructed. God came to the tent in glory demanding that Moses and Aaron step aside and let him to put an end to the nation once and for all. They plead for mercy for those who weren’t personally involved and God graciously grants their petition.
However he is not about to let the instigators get away with their plot to overthrow his appointed government. So as soon as Moses has moved the people away from the tents of Korah and two of his senior henchmen, Dathan and Abirim the ground opens up and swallows them along with all their possessions. It was as if they had never existed. Then the 250 holding their censors before the tent were consumed by fire from Heaven. Judgment was swift, public and precise.
The people were terrified thinking that this was the end of them all, but by next morning their terror turned into self-righteous indignation. They were on Moses’ doorstep again accusing him of killing the Lord’s people.
What were they thinking? How is it that humans can be so terrified of upsetting idols that can do nothing, yet stand brazen before a God who can shake the very foundations of the earth? These are the people who will seek to kill a man for being raised from the dead and then actually kill the one who raised him.
Anyway God had really had a gutful and sent a plague through the whole nation which would have wiped them all out entirely had not Aaron run through the huge assemble with his censer burning, to make atonement for them. The plague stopped, but only after 14,700 people had died.
How do you handle this? I was talking to someone recently who said he was Christian but had no time for the Old Testament because he could not believe in the God that existed back then. “He was far too tough and too brutal”; he said. He’s inadvertently joined the ranks of the brazen Israelites.
We humans have an incredible knack for making out that we are more compassionate and gracious than God. We seem to forget that the fairest thing God could have done is to wipe out the whole human race and have done with us forever. We can be thankful that God is not into human fairness, but grace. Part of that grace is expressed in his willingness to give us a forewarning of the consequences of rejecting his right to rule.
As Paul says “It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance”. God finds no joy in the death of a sinner but we can be thankful that he takes upon himself the onerous task of removing those that would endanger the lives of his people. How do you feel about God displaying his judgment here on earth? You can be thankful or incensed depending on how quickly you learn your lessons in life.