Sunday, June 8, 2014

Numbers 16

Today's reading in our daily plan is Numbers 16. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • In chapter 12 of Numbers we saw Miriam and Aaron lead a rebellion against Moses. Here a rebellion is led by Korah against Moses and Aaron. Complaining and rebelling against God and the leaders he appoints become a near constant theme with the Israelites at this time.
  • As a Levite, Korah was one of the priests appointed to serve God.
  • Korah and his counterparts charge (in verse 13) that Moses led them out of a "land flowing with milk and honey". What they are referring to was their slavery in Egypt. They were mistreated and oppressed there. But now that Moses hasn't led them where they want to go, they imagine times were good back then and that their current conditions are worse.
  • Moses proposes a test to see who was right, and Korah and his followers arrogantly agree. God punishes them for their rebellion and Moses is vindicated.
  • Somehow (in verse 41) the Israelites blame Moses and Aaron for the punishment the rebels receive. Somehow they didn't learn a lesson from what happened.  And, really, their complaint was not so much against Moses and Aaron as it was against God (see verse 11).
  • God seems to decide to just put an end to these insolent people, as by their behavior and attitudes they have forfeited their right to continue their lives, but Moses and Aaron intercede for them (see verses 4 and 22) and God relents from ending these people.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • We've discussed this before, but the Bible is very clear that life is a gift from God and that when we sin we lose our right to continue to possess this gift. We are shocked when we see people die because of their sin in the Bible, but dying because of sin is not a surprise. That will happen for everyone eventually. The only question is when.
  • The real problem with the Israelites wasn't so much that they complained or questioned. We see people throughout the Bible (including Moses) complain to God and question him, and God tolerates it. The real issue is that the Israelites did not have faith in God. Faith is what saves us from the penalty of our sin (which is losing our right to life). (For more on this, see Romans 4:5, Romans 5:1, Galatians 2:16, and Ephesians 2:8-9.)
  • We see in this chapter, and throughout the Bible, that it is a big deal to God for His people to respect the leaders He's put in place over them (see, for instance, Hebrews 13:17, 1 Timothy 2:1-15, 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, Hebrews 13:7, 1 Timothy 5:17-20, Romans 13:1, Galatians 6:6).

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • In what area of your life are you most apt to complain and not believe in God? Do you struggle to believe that He can heal your marriage, take care of your future, protect your kids, provide for you financially? What practical steps could you take to build up your faith in God in general, and specifically in that area of your life?
  • How could you better honor the leaders God has put in your life?