Numbers 16


God stands behind His appointed leaders mightily


1 Now Korah, the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: 2 And 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: 3 And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, You take too much on yourselves, since all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: why then do you lift yourselves up above the congregation of the LORD?


  • Korah was Moses cousin.
  • All God’s people are holy but all are not appointed to lead.
  • God had prepared Moses for 80 years before He set him over Israel.
  • What Moses does about this shows why He is God’s leader.
  • He was humble; he took the problem to God and did what God said.


4 And when Moses heard it, he fell on his face: 5 And he spoke to Korah and to all his company saying, Tomorrow the LORD will show who is his, and who is holy; and will cause him to come near to him: those whom he has chosen he will cause to come near him. 6 Do this; Take fire pans, Korah, and all his company; 7 And put fire in them, and put incense in them before the LORD tomorrow: and it will be that the man whom the LORD chooses, he will be holy: you take too much on yourselves, you sons of Levi. 8 And Moses said to Korah, Please listen, you sons of Levi: 9 Does it seem a small thing to you that the God of Israel has 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 to them? 10 He has brought you near to him, and all your brothers, the sons of Levi with you: do you seek the priesthood also? 11 This is why both you and all your company are gathered together against the LORD: and who is Aaron that you murmur against him?


  • Positions of authority do not make people happy.
  • No matter how high you go it is not high enough to replace the relationship with God that fills our hearts to overflowing.
  • If these people had been focusing on the first and great commandment to love God with all our being, then they would have been content (Deuteronomy 6:5 + Matthew 22:37).
  • Hebrews 13:5 Let your behavior be without covetousness; and be content with what you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, or forsake you.
  • Revelation 1:6 And has made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.


12 And Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab: who said, We will not come up: 13 Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land that flows with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness, must you also seize dominion over us? 14 Moreover you have not brought us into a land that flows with milk and honey, or given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: will you bore out the eyes of these men? We will not come up. 15 So Moses was furious and said to the LORD, Do not respect their offering: I have not taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them.


  • They have forgotten the whip of the Egyptian taskmaster.
  • They remember Egypt as ‘milk and honey.’
  • Moses did not use a taskmasters whip.
  • These people have been freed from the yoke of slavery.
  • God rains bread from waven for them to eat and gives them water from the rock.
  • He rains quail on their camp.
  • Moses took no wages for leading and judging the people and this was how they treated him.


16 And Moses said to Korah, you and all your company come before the LORD, you, them, and Aaron, tomorrow: 17 And every man take his fire pan and put incense in them and bring you before the LORD every man his fire pan: two hundred and fifty fire pans: also you and Aaron, each his fire pan. 18 And they took every man his fire pan, put fire in them, laid incense on it, and stood in the door of the tabernacle of the congregation with Moses and Aaron. 19 And Korah gathered all the congregation against them to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation.


  •  Ezekiel 1:26 And above the expanse that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, like a sapphire stone: and on the throne was the likeness of a man above upon it. 27 And I saw as the color of amber, like the appearance of fire around inside it; from his loins upward and from his loins downward I saw the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about. 28 Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain was the appearance of the brightness around it. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.


He is the God of the spirits of all flesh


20 And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron saying, 21 Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment. 22 And they fell on their faces and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, will one man sin, and will you be furious at all the congregation? 23 And the LORD spoke to Moses saying, 24 Speak to the congregation saying, Get away from around the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. 25 And Moses rose up and went to Dathan and Abiram; the elders of Israel followed him. 26 And he spoke to the congregation saying, Get away, I beg you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins. 27 So they got away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, their wives, their sons, and their little children. 28 And Moses said, By this you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of my own mind. 29 If these men die as other men die, and they are visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD has not sent me. 30 But if the LORD makes a new thing, and the earth opens her mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit; then you will understand that these men have provoked the LORD. 31 And it happened, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart that was under them: 32 And the earth opened her mouth, swallowed them up, their houses, and all the men that belonged to Korah, and all their goods. 33 They, and all that belonged to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. 34 And all Israel that were around them fled at their cry: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also. 35 Fire came out from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense.


  • God is not angry with all His people when some of them sin.
  • Deuteronomy 24:16 The fathers will not be put to death for the children, neither will the children be put to death for the fathers: every man will be put to death for his own sin.


36 And the LORD spoke to Moses saying, 37 Speak to Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest, to take up the fire pans out of the burning and scatter the fire far away; for they are hallowed. 38 Let the fire pans of these sinners against their own souls be made into broad plates for a covering of the altar: for they offered them before the LORD, therefore they are hallowed: and they will be a sign to the children of Israel.


  • Notice where the blame belongs: ‘sinners against their own souls.’ They did it to themselves.
  • God had the fire pans made into a warning sign.


39 So Eleazar the priest took the brass fire pans with which those that were burned up had offered; and they were made into broad plates to cover the altar: 40 To be a memorial to the children of Israel, that no man who is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before the LORD; that he not be like Korah, and as his company: as the LORD said to him by the hand of Moses. 41 But on the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron saying, You have killed the people of the LORD.


  • Did Moses and Aaron have the power to send out fire like this?
  • Did they have the power to open the ground to swallow up Dathan and Abiram and their families?
  • After fire from God had consumed 250 of their leaders they still had no fear.
  • God had shown His will.
  • Grumbling is evidence of life’s greatest unbelief. It says, God can’t take care of it.
  • Murmuring and complaining becomes a habit. We need to train our thinking not to grumble.
  • Job 1:21And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked will I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God foolishly.


42 And it happened, 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. 43 And Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of the congregation. 44 Then the LORD spoke to Moses saying, 45 You get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment. And they fell on their faces. 46 And Moses said to Aaron, Take a fire pan, put fire in it from off the altar, put on incense, go quickly to the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for wrath has gone out from the LORD; the plague has begun. 47 And Aaron took what Moses commanded and ran into the midst of the congregation; and behold, the plague had begun among the people: so he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. 48 He stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stopped. 49 Those that died in the plague were 14,700, beside those that died about the matter of Korah. 50 And Aaron returned to Moses to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation: and the plague was stopped.


  • God has always desired to dwell in the midst of His people.
  • But often He has to judge instead.
  • This plague is a picture of us. We have rebelled against God. Christ steps in between the Father and us and prevents our being cast into the Lake of Fire forever.
  • We need to be careful to follow and not rebel against God’s chosen authorities.
  • One assistant pastor died of a heart attack while speaking against the pastor that he assisted.
  • James 3:2 2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body._
  • We can always find things to say against others since only Christ the LORD is perfect.
  • Romans 5:9-10 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we will be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we will be saved by his life.


                                            Numbers 17


God decides who leads


1 And the LORD spoke to Moses saying, 2 Speak to the children of Israel, have every one of them take of a rod according to the house of their fathers, all their princes, twelve rods, according to the house of their fathers: write every man’s name on his rod. 3 You are to write Aaron's name on the rod of Levi: one rod will be for the head of the house of their fathers. 4 Then lay them in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you. 5 And the man's rod that I choose, will blossom: and I will stop the murmurings of the children of Israel against me, by which they murmur against you. 6 So Moses spoke to the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod one for each prince one, according to their fathers' houses, twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. 7 And Moses laid the rods before the LORD in the tabernacle of witness. 8 And it happened the next day Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi budded: it brought forth buds, bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.


  • Making the rods blossom and yield almonds was the signature of God—only God can make life where there is death, that is, resurrection.
  • The rods were dead.
  • God brought life forth out of them.
  • God settled the leadership controversy; He knows all the hearts.
  • He decides who is in charge. Jesus’ eternal priesthood was confirmed by resurrection.


9 And Moses brought out all the rods from before the LORD to all the children of Israel: and they looked, and every man took his rod. 10 And the LORD said to Moses, Bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a sign against the rebels; and you will take away their murmurings from me, that they not die. 11 And Moses did this: he did what the LORD commanded him. 12 And the children of Israel spoke to Moses saying, Behold, we are dying, we are perishing, we are all perishing. 13 Whoever comes anywhere near the tabernacle of the LORD will die: will we be consumed with dying?


  • God had Moses keep a reminder so they would not forget whom God had chosen as leader.
  • He has made a way for us to approach Him without fear; God made a way that we may approach Him as sinners and live.
  • When God looks at those who have believed in Jesus death for their sins He sees no sin, but the perfect life of His Son. This is an astounding gift. No gift will ever compare to this.
  • Matthew 27:51-53 And, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks split; 52 And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.
  • Daniel 2:21 He changes the times and the seasons: he removes kings, and sets up kings: he gives wisdom to the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.
  • James 4:8-10 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.


                                            Numbers 18


1 And the LORD said to Aaron, You, your sons, and your father's house with you will bear the iniquity of the sanctuary: and you and you sons with you will bear the iniquity of your priesthood. 2 Also bring with you your brothers from the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, to be joined to you, and minister to you: but you and you sons with you will minister before the tabernacle of witness. 3 They will keep your charge, and the charge of all the tabernacle: only they will not come near the vessels of the sanctuary and the altar, so that neither they, nor you die also. 4 They will be joined to you, and keep the charge of the tabernacle of the congregation, for all the service of the tabernacle: and a foreigner will not come near you. 5 And you are to keep the charge of the sanctuary, and the charge of the altar: that there be no more wrath on the children of Israel.


  • This was in response to the cry of the people in Numbers 17 that they were all going to die, being near God’s tabernacle.
  • God changed the way things were being done to protect the people.
  • His rules and instructions protect us.
  • God always tells why. We just need to read thoroughly and attentively. “so that there is no more wrath on the children of Israel.”
  • Every plague was wrath from our holy God against disobedience, rebellion and complaints.
  • 1Peter 2:24 Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose wounds you were healed.
  • Exodus 3:5 And he said, Do not draw near here: take your shoes off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.


6 I, behold, I have taken your brothers the Levites from among the children of Israel: they are given to you by the LORD as a gift, to do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. 7 Therefore you and you sons with you will keep your priest's office for everything that pertains the altar, and inside the veil; and you will serve: I have given your priest's office to you as a service of gift: and the foreigner that comes near will be put to death.


  • John 4:34 Jesus said to them, My food is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.


8 The LORD gave these further instructions to Aaron: I have put the priests in charge of all the holy gifts that are brought to me by the people of Israel. I have given these offerings to you and your sons as your regular share. 9 This will be yours of the most holy things, reserved from the fire: every oblation of theirs, every grain offering of theirs, and every sin offering of theirs, and every trespass offering of theirs which they give to me will be most holy for you and for you sons. 10 You are to eat it in the most holy place; every male will eat it: it will be holy to you. 11 And this is yours; the wave offering of their gift, with all the wave offerings of the children of Israel: I have given them to you, to your sons, and to you daughters with you, by a statute forever: every one that is clean in your house will eat of it.


God provided a living for His priests through the offerings of the people


12 All the best of the oil, all the best of the wine, of the wheat, of the first fruits of those that they offer to the LORD, these I have given you. 13 Whatever is first ripe in the land that they bring to the LORD will be yours; every one that is clean in your house may eat of it. 14 Every thing devoted in Israel will be yours. 15 Every thing that opens the womb in all flesh, which they bring to the LORD, whether it is of men or animals, will be yours: nevertheless the firstborn of man you are surely to redeem, and the firstling of unclean animals you are to redeem. 16 And those that are to be redeemed from a month old you are to redeem, according to yours estimate, for the money of five shekels, by the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs.


  • He gave them the best.
  • He redeemed us, bought us back to God from evil, at the greatest price ever paid for anything.
  • 1 Peter 1:18 You were not redeemed with corruptible things like silver or gold from your vain way of living. But with the precious blood of Christ, as a lamb without blemish and without spot.


17 But the firstling of a cow, the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, your are not to redeem; they are holy: you are to sprinkle their blood on the altar, and burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a sweet savor to the LORD. 18 And the flesh of those will be yours, like the wave breast and like the right shoulder is yours. 19 All the wave offerings of the holy things which the children of Israel offer to the LORD, I have given to you and to your sons and your daughters with you, by a statute forever: it is a covenant of salt forever before the LORD to you and to your seed with you.


  • Salt was their preservative in the ancient world.


God was their inheritance


20 And the LORD spoke to Aaron, Your will have no inheritance in their land, neither will your have any part among them: I am your part and your inheritance among the children of Israel. 21 And behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service that they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. 22 From now on the children of Israel must not come near the tabernacle of the congregation, so they not bear sin and die. 23 But the Levites will do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they will bear their iniquity: it will be a statute forever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel that they have no inheritance. 24 But the tithes of the children of Israel that they offer as a wave offering to the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said to them, Among the children of Israel they will have no inheritance.


  • Would you rather have the gift, or the giver of all things?
  • Do we think our Creator is like us?Or do we consider the awesome genius of the one who created all things. Do we consider His power that spoke all things into being (Psalm 33:6, 9, Genesis 1) and sustained them since then (Colossians 1:17).
  • Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Do not fear, Abram: I am your shield, and your exceeding great reward.
  • 1 Chronicles 16:29-30 Give to the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. 30 Fear before him, all the earth: the world also will be stable, that it be not moved.


25 And the LORD spoke to Moses saying, 26 Speak to the Levites, and say to them, When you take the tithes from the children of Israel which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you are to offer up a wave offering of it for the LORD, a tenth part of the tithe. 27 This, your wave offering, will be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and like the fullness of the winepress. 28 You must present one-tenth of the tithe received from the Israelites as a gift to the LORD. From this you must present the LORD’s portion to Aaron the priest. 29 Out of all your gifts you are to offer every wave offering of the LORD, all the best of it, even the hallowed part out of it. 30 Therefore say to them, When you have waved the best from it, then it will be counted to the Levites as the increase of the threshing floor, and as the increase of the winepress. 31 You may eat it in every place, you and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation. 32 And you will bear no sin because of it, when you have set apart the best of it: neither will you profane the holy things of the children of Israel, so that you not die.


  • God forbid polluting the holy things on punishment of death.
  • The tithe of the people was given to the Levites as wages but they were in turn to give a tenth of it also to the LORD by giving it to the high priest.




SUMMARY: Numbers 16-18


  • The LORD stands behind His appointed leaders mightily
  • He chooses leaders, separates them, and brings them near to Himself
  • He is the God of the spirits of all flesh
  • His glory appeared
  • His fire came out and consumed the rebellious
  • He stopped the murmuring against Him
  • He protected the people by appointing the Levites
  • He provided wages for the priests and Levites serving at the tabernacle from the offerings of the people
  • He was their inheritance