Parashah 38: Korach "bald"
"B'midbar (In the desert / wilderness)(Numbers) 16:1-18:32 Psalm 5
Sh'mu'el Alef (1 Samuel) 11:14-12:22 Acts 5:1-11
by Messianic Teacher Dr. Daniel Boley
1 Now Korach the son of Yitz'har, the son of K'hat, the son of Levi, along with Datan and Aviram, the sons of Eli'av, and On, the son of Pelet, descendants of Re'uven, took men and 2 rebelled against Moshe. Siding with them were 250 men of Isra'el, leaders of the community, key members of the council, men of reputation.
• Korach [Korah] is the Hebrew קֹרַח [ko-rakh] from קָרַח [kah-rakh] meaning to depilate, or make oneself bald
◦ קָרַח is found in such passages as Lev 21:1-6 (see verse 5) and Jer 16:5-9 (see verse 6).
▪ Pulling out the hair or “to shave a bare place on the front part of the head above the eyes … are two modes of expressing passionate mourning for the dead which were forbidden to the Israelites in the law, yet which remained in use among the people … in honour of the dead.” (Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament)
▪ A custom of the pagan forbidden to the Jews, Lev 19:28; Deut 14:1, and which appears now to have prevailed among them; because, having become idolaters, they conformed to all the customs of the pagan. They tore their hair, rent their garments, cut their hands, arms, and faces. These were not only signs of sorrow, but were even supposed to give ease to the dead, and appease the angry deities. (Adam Clarke's Commentary)
• In just the last parashah (in Numbers 14) the leaders had led the people to discount, deny, and rebel against the LORD, verse 5, Moshe and Aharon fell on their faces, Y'hoshua and Kalev tore their clothes, verse 6, and tried to talk some sense into them.
◦ The people's response to this Godly intercession? Verse 10: the whole community were saying they should be stoned to death ... until the glory of Adonai appeared. The LORD was about to destroy them, but Moshe interceded for them, and instead of immediate death the LORD sent them into the desert for 40 years.
• Now this parashah opens with a number of the current leaders rebelling, including two of the Levites.
◦ They were “leaders of the community, key members of the council, men of reputation.”
▪ Good, bad, or anywhere in between leaders lead.
• Like leader, like people. We need to be careful and prayerful about who we allow to be our leaders.
• Those who are in leadership need to be prayerfully careful how they lead; especially the community of God.
• Those following need to be continually in prayer for leadership.
◦ How often do we lift up our pastors, rabbis, ministers, elders, cantors, and teachers in prayer?
▪ When was the last time we let them know it?
▪ Why not take a moment now to pray for them?
▪ Why not take the opportunity to encourage them with a note, email, text, or call right now?
◦ Nationally, good, bad, or anywhere in between the Sovereign LORD allows us to have the type of leader we want and / or deserve.
▪ As salt and light have preserving properties, we are to help preserve our societies by praying and interceding for others (especially our leaders); sharing the life-giving, life-changing Word of God; and living life as those who have been redeemed from the curse of sin, death, and hell.
• You are salt for the Land. But if salt becomes tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except being thrown out for people to trample on. You are the light for the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. (Matt 5:13-14, emphasis original)
• Pray for each other. James 5:16
◦ “Pray” here is a present imperative in the original Greek of this letter. A present imperative is a “Commitment to a long term way of doing something. A command to keep on doing an action as one's general habit or life-style. Repeat each time this situation arises!” (Discovery Bible New Testament, Chicago; Moody Press)
• First of all, then, I counsel that petitions, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for all human beings, 2 including kings and all in positions of prominence; so that we may lead quiet and peaceful lives, being godly and upright in everything. 3 This is what God, our Deliverer, regards as good; this is what meets His approval. He wants all humanity to be delivered and come to full knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim 2:1-4, emphasis original)
• Therefore, there is no longer any condemnation awaiting those who are in union with the Messiah Yeshua. 2 Why? Because the Torah of the Spirit, which produces this life in union with Messiah Yeshua, has set me free from the “Torah” of sin and death. 3 For what the Torah could not do by itself, because it lacked the power to make the old nature cooperate, God did by sending His own Son as a human being with a nature like our own sinful one [but without sin]. God did this in order to deal with sin, and in so doing He executed the punishment against sin in human nature, 4 so that the just requirement of the Torah might be fulfilled in us who do not run our lives according to what our old nature wants but according to what the Spirit wants. (Rom 8:1-4, emphasis original)
3 They assembled themselves against Moshe and Aharon and said to them, “You take too much on yourselves! After all, the entire community is holy, every one of them, and Adonai is among them. So why do you lift yourselves up above Adonai's assembly?”
• How many times had it been shown that it was the LORD Who chose, appointed, commissioned, and placed Moses and Aaron in the positions they had?
• And still the accusations come, “You take too much on yourselves! … Why do you lift yourselves up above Adonai's assembly?”
◦ Any degree of self pride blinds us. The greater the degree of self pride, the greater the degree of blindness: especially blindness to our own faults and shortcomings.
▪ This is very different from pride in the accomplishments of others.
• For instance, the pride a parent feels when their child makes wise decisions, overcomes some difficulty, or has their diligence paid off by passing their class in school.
◦ These are opportunities for a parent to affirm and love their child with a approving look, a hand on the shoulder, a hug, and an encouraging word.
▪ Seize the opportunities!
• We need to confront what is bad and evil, just as we need to consistently weed the garden, but
• We need to be just as diligent to acknowledge, affirm, and build up what is good, and right, and just.
• These men were blind to the things of God. They were the ones who were taking too much on themselves and lifting themselves above Adonai's assembly.
◦ There is an old adage that when we point a finger at another, there are three pointing at ourselves.
• “After all, the entire community is holy, every one of them”
◦ This was the goal, but it was in the far distance, and humanly unachievable.
▪ Now if you will pay careful attention to what I say and keep My covenant, then you will be My own treasure from among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; 6 and you will be a kingdom of cohanim for Me, a nation set apart. (Ex 19:5-6)
• The term “set apart” here (translated “holy” in some Bibles) is the Hebrew word קָדוֹשׁ [kah-dosh] meaning:
◦ Strong's: sacred (ceremonially or morally); (as noun) God (by eminence), an angel, a saint, a sanctuary
▪ from קָדַשׁ [kah-dahsh] meaning:
▪ Strong's: to be (causatively, make, pronounce or observe as) clean (ceremonially or morally)
▪ BDB: to consecrate, to sanctify, to prepare, to dedicate, to be hallowed, to be holy, to be sanctified, to be separate
◦ BDB: sacred, holy, the Holy One, a saint, set apart
▪ Such was God's plan for His people, if they would only obediently and consistently walk in His ways and His love.
• How much more is this His plan for those who know Yeshua?!
◦ Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb? (1 Pet 1:18-19)
◦ Immersed (baptized) in the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh)? (Matt 3:11)
◦ Who are His temple, indwelt by His Ruach Kodesh? (1 Cor 6:19)
◦ Who are His body? (1 Cor 12:27)
▪ This is who we are in Messiah.
• To act differently is to deny the LORD and all He has done for us.
• To sin is to act contrary to who we are in Messiah and give the adversary (שָׂטָן [satan]) inroads into our life.
▪ The masculine plural form of “holy” in Hebrew is קדושים. Here it is spelled קדשים (with the central ו missing).
• The ו (vav) represents a nail, peg or hook; it binds together, and also leaves its mark. ו has a numerical value of 6. It was on the sixth day that the LORD culminated His creation with the making of mankind.
◦ What holds man together, at his very heart, is the holiness of God making its mark on every aspect of our lives.
▪ Without that we gravitate more and more to acting like animals, which He also created on the sixth day.
▪ Normally speaking, it is certain animals that are offered by fire on the altar to the LORD. Putting themselves forward as these men did, without the mark of God's holiness in their hearts, they were consumed by fire before the LORD.
◦ Pride, arrogance, insubordination, etc. are not holy. As these men approached the LORD these things within them were purged. Unfortunately, they were so filled with these things that the purging killed them.
▪ As we come before the Holy, Righteous, Pure, Just God, one of two things occur:
• Either we will allow Him to change us to become a little more like Him,
• Or we will change directions and back away from Him.
◦ The decision is ours. What choice do we make?
• Invoking the LORD's name they try to bypass any human authority.
◦ As if the LORD will not, or can not, defend His own name.
◦ Forgetting or ignoring that the LORD is a God of order, and normally works within the order He has established
▪ e.g. Moses and Aaron here, His apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers (e.g. Eph 4:11), elders (e.g. 1 Tim 5:17), deacons (e.g. 1 Tim 3:8-10) ….
▪ When He does work outside of the normal order He has established (which is always His prerogative) it is by definition a “miracle.”
4 When Moshe heard this he fell on his face.
• This is a position of humility and prayer.
• Here and there throughout Scripture we read of people falling on their faces in the presence of the LORD, e.g.:
◦ Gen 17:3 Avram fell on his face, and God continued speaking with him ...
◦ Gen 17:17 At this Avraham fell on his face and laughed ...
◦ Lev 9:24 Fire came forth from the presence of Adonai, consuming the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.
◦ Num 16:22 They fell on their faces and said, “Oh God, God of the spirits of all humankind, if one person sins, are you going to be angry with the entire assembly?”
◦ Josh 5:14 “No,” he replied, “but I am the Commander of Adonai's army; I have come just now.” Y'hoshua fell down with his face to the ground and worshipped him …
◦ Josh 7:6 Y'hoshua tore his clothes and fell to his face on the ground before the ark of Adonai until evening …
◦ 1 Kings 18:39 When all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “Adonai is God! Adonai is God!”
◦ 1 Chr 29:20 … All the community blessed Adonai, the God of their ancestors, bowing their heads and prostrating themselves before Adonai and before the king.
◦ 2 Chr 20:18 Y'hoshafat bowed his head with his face to the ground; while all Y'hudah and the inhabitants of Yerushalayim fell dow before Adonai, worshipping Adonai
◦ Ezek 1:27 … This was how the appearance of the glory of Adonai looked. When I saw it, I fell on my face …
◦ Ezek 3:23 … The glory of Adonai was there, like the glory I had seen by the K'var River; and I fell on my face. (See also Ezek 9:8; 11:13; 43:3; 44:4.)
◦ Matt 17:5 While He was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them; and a voice from the cloud said, “This is My Son, Whom I love, with Whom I am well please. Listen to Him!” 6 When the talmidim heard this they were so frightened that they fell face down on the ground.
◦ Matt 26:39 Going on a little farther, He fell on His face, praying …
◦ Luke 5:12 Once, when Yeshua was in one of the town, there came a man completely covered with tzara'at. On seeing Yeshua, he fell on his face and begged Him, “Sir, if you are willing, you can make me clean.”
◦ Rev 7:11 All the angles stood around the throne, the elders and the four living beings; they fell face down before the throne and worshipped God …
◦ Rev 11:16 The twenty-four elders sitting on their thrones in God's presence fell on their faces and worshipped God
• It is common in some congregations to see people fall over backwards, reportedly under the power of the Holy Spirit.
◦ It is interesting to note that the only place in Scripture where it is specifically mentioned that people fell over backwards in the presence and power of the LORD is in John 18:
4 Yeshua, Who knew everything that was going to happen to Him, went out and asked them, “Whom do you want?” 5 “Yeshua from Natzeret,” they answered. He said to them, “I AM.” Also standing with them was Y'hudah, the one who was betraying Him. 6 When He said, “I AM,” they went backward from Him and fell to the ground.
◦ Could this difference in doctrine be an aspect of what Jesus referred to in Matt 15:9?
5 Then he said to Korach and his whole group, “In the morning, Adonai will show who are His and who is the holy person He will allow to approach Him. Yes, He will bring whomever He chooses near to Himself. 6 Do this: take censers, Korach and all your group; 7 put fire in them; and put incense in them before Adoani tomorrow. The one whom Adonai chooses will be the one who is holy! It is you, you sons of Levi, who are taking too much on yourselves!”
• We are not told what time of day this took place, but putting off the actual “showdown” until the next morning would allow for these men to come to their senses, have a change of heart, and repent.
◦ The LORD is slow to anger and always gives us plenty of time to turn away from our stupidity and do things His way – if we will only listen and do it!
▪ Adonai passed before him [Moses] and proclaimed: “YUD-HEH-VAV-HEH!!! Yud-Heh-Vav-Heh [Adonai, the LORD] is God, merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace and truth; 7 showing grace to the thousandth generation, forgiving offenses, crimes and sins; yet not exonerating the guilty, but causing the negative effects of the parents' offenses to be experienced by their children and grandchildren, even by the third and fourth generations.” (Ex 34:6-7, cf Num 14:18-19)
▪ The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, He is patient with you; for it is not His purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins. (2 Kefa [Peter] 3:8)
• Had all these men forgotten what happened to Aaron's two eldest sons when they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD? (See Lev 10:1-2)
◦ Yes, their offering may have been patterned after something used in idol / demon worship, but it's an indication that they didn't really understand the LORD, or the things of God as well as they thought they did. In this way Korah and his followers are making the same mistake.
• Had all these men forgotten what happened when Aaron and Miriam had challenged Moses, and Miriam was stricken with tzara'at? (See Num 12)
◦ At that time the LORD had challenged them, “... Why weren't you afraid to criticize My servant Moshe?” (Num 12:8)
• If we are not careful we can become jealous of what another has, but
◦ We are looking at the situation with blinders on; from a very narrow point of view.
▪ Not seeing the whole truth of the situation as it currently is,
▪ Nor what the person has gone through to get to where they now are
◦ Korah and his followers saw the position, honor, and respect Moses and Aaron had, without seeing the years of heartache, trial, testing, exposure to the elements, and perseverance they had to be taken through to prepare them for the task at hand.
◦ They saw the end result and wanted it now, without being willing to pay the price true price.
• Each cell in the body has a purpose and a function, and a proper place where the LORD has placed it.
◦ Cells with similar purpose and function are brought together to form organs, and organs work together to form systems. The various systems function together to help the body as a whole work well.
◦ If any of those cells, organs, or systems were to move out of place, it could spell disaster for the body.
◦ The same holds true for within the body of Messiah.
▪ While each of us is given a spiritual gift (or gifts) when we finally come to our senses and accept His gift of life, it is the Holy Spirit Who determines who gets what gift (see 1 Cor 12:4-7).
▪ Others may have the same or a similar gift, but that's okay!
• That is the Holy Spirit's prerogative, and
• there should never be competition within the body!
◦ We have an enemy, an adversary, and he is not flesh and blood (see Eph 6:10 ff)
8 Then Moshe said to Korach, “Listen here, you sons of Levi! 9 Is it for you a mere trifle that the God of Isra'el has separated you from the community of Isra'el to bring you close to Himself, so that you can do the work in the tabernacle of Adonai and stand before the community serving them? 10 He has brought you close and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you. Now you want the office of cohen too! 11 That's why you and your group have gathered together against Adonai! After all, what is Aharon that you complain against him?”
• Look at all the LORD has given you! Why aren't you satisfied with that, that you want something else?
• You are despising what the LORD has given you?!!
• You have gathered together against the LORD, not a man!
◦ This was all the LORD's doing, not some human invention.
◦ Leadership in God's house is not a matter of human choice, preference, decision, or whim.
▪ It is a holy office, not to be entered lightly.
▪ Leadership in the things of God is directly accountable to the LORD
• It is a position of great responsibility and those in such an office will be more severely judged by the LORD for all that is said and done (James 3:1)
◦ May the LORD help us to
▪ represent Him accurately
▪ speak His Word clearly
▪ seek His face constantly
▪ follow His precepts faithfully
▪ and may He forgive us for those times we have knowingly or unknowingly taught the ideas of man as something from God.
▪ For at whatever level we teach, whether in the home or on the air-waves, in the congregation or in the written word, for that level of responsibility the LORD will hold us accountable.
• All of which brings us back to the need to be regularly, consistently, daily lifting up our leaders in prayer!
12 Then Moshe sent to summon Datan and Aviram, the sons of Eli'av. But they replied, “We won't come up!
• Datan and Aviram were part of the conspiracy (vs 1) and refused to be accountable to leadership.
◦ This is a very dangerous position
▪ God has established leadership for our
• leading – guiding – instruction
• accountability – blessing – protection
▪ Stepping outside the “umbrella” of Godly leadership exposes us directly to the attacks of the enemy who seeks only to steal, kill, and destroy us (now and eternally) (John 10:10)
13 Is it such a mere trifle, bringing us up from a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert, that now you arrogate to yourself the role of dictator over us?
• Now they're claiming that harsh slavery in Egypt was really “milk and honey”
◦ it was healthy for us
◦ it was sweet to us … it was good and pleasant !?!
▪ We must guard against any tendency to minimize or romanticize past situations of abuse, neglect, sadness, or misery.
▪ We must also guard against any tendency to exaggerate what the situation really was.
▪ We need to honestly assess what was and what is, and all the LORD has done for us to get us to this time and place.
• We also need to honestly assess what can be in the LORD and run after Him.
• Remember this, and stand firm. Keep it in mind, you rebels. 9 Remember things that happened at the beginning, long ago – that I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. (Isa 46:8-9, emphasis added)
• “Because you didn't remember the condition you were in when you were young, but enraged Me with all these things, therefore I will bring [the consequences of] your ways on your own head,” says Adonai ELOHIM. “You committed these obscenities in addition to all your other disgusting practices!” (Ezek 16:43, emphasis added)
• Give thanks to Adonai! Call on His name! Make His deeds known among the peoples. 2 Sing to Him, sing praises to Him, talk about all His wonders. 3 Glory in His holy name; let those seeking Adonai have joyful hearts. 4 See Adonai and His strength; always seek His presence. 5 Remember the wonders He has done, His signs and His spoken rulings. (Ps 105:1-5)
14 You haven't at all brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, and you haven't put us in possession of fields and vineyards. Do you think you can gouge out these men's eyes and blind them? We won't come up!”
• Never mind the truth of the matter
◦ that we were among those who had a bad attitude,
◦ denied all the LORD has done for us, and
◦ rebelled against Him (see Num 14:1-11).
◦ Never mind that we helped mess things up for everybody,
▪ we still want the goods and the honor too!
▪ We want all the benefits and blessings of godly obedience without any of the responsibility.
• Do you think you can blind us to what's happening here, Moses? We know what's really going on!
• We won't come up! I don't have to do what you say, you're not the boss of me!
15 Moshe was very angry and said to Adonai, “Don't accept their grain offering! I haven't taken one donkey from them, I've done nothing wrong to any of them.”
• “angry” here comes from the Hebrew word חָרָה [khah-rah] meaning:
◦ Strong's: to glow or grow warm; figuratively (usually) to blaze up, of anger, zeal, jealousy
◦ BDB: to be hot, to furious, to burn, to become angry, to be kindled
• “very” here comes from מְאֹד [meh-ōd] meaning:
◦ Strong's: properly, vehemence, i.e. (with or without preposition) vehemently; by implication, wholly, speedily, etc. (often with other words as an intensive or superlative; especially when repeated)
◦ BDB: exceedingly, much as a substantive; might, force, abundance, as a masculine noun; muchness, force, abundance, exceedingly (force, might; exceedingly, greatly, very (idioms showing magnitude or degree) (exceedingly; up to abundance, to a great degree, exceedingly; with muchness, muchness)
• In English we might say that Moses was “boiling mad,” “red hot,” or “furious,” and yet
• his response was a prayer, a petition, to the All-Mighty!
◦ Never seek revenge, my friends; instead, leave that to God's anger; for in the Tanakh it is written, “Adonai says, 'Vengeance is My responsibility; I will repay.'” (Rom 12:19; cf Deut 32:35; Heb 10:30)
▪ … Then all the Messianic communities will know that I am the One Who searches minds and hearts, and that I will give to each of you what your deeds deserve. (Rev 2:23)
• But for the grace and mercy of God we are all in trouble!
▪ If we take revenge, which is the LORD's prerogative, we presume to assume His place.
• The LORD is a “gentleman” and will allow us to act, but
◦ our actions may cause untold damage to ourselves and others
◦ whereas He is able to act with a surgical precision that our doctors and military can only marvel at
• Once we take action, once we take revenge, spiritually the accounts may be considered cleared and there is no longer reason for God to act
◦ When we have been hurt in some way, that wound is a result of the Fall (directly or indirectly).
▪ With the Fall, spiritual, physical, and emotional / mental sin, sickness, pain, rot, decay, death, etc. entered the world.
• If we hold on to the hurt, we are holding on to something that will infect us; and could eventually kill us.
▪ As we open our hands and our hearts to forgive the person that hurt us, we release the hurt into the hands of the LORD, Who is very able to deal with that person.
• For Adonai-Tzva'ot has sent me on a glorious mission to the nations that plundered you, and this is what He says: “Anyone who injures you injures the very pupil of my eye. 9 But I will shake My hand over them, and they will be plundered by those who were formerly their slaves.” Then you will know that Adonai-Tzva'ot sent me. (Zech 2:8-9 (12-13))
• Forgiveness is not for the sake of the person who hurt us. They may not realize or even care that they hurt us. Forgiveness is for our own sake, and to leave the situation in God's hands.
• Forgiveness is not the same as trust. We can forgive someone and still not trust them. Trust comes slowly over time and must be earned.
◦ “'… Forgive us what we have done wrong, as we too have forgiven those who have wronged us. 13 And do not lead us into hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One. For kingship, power and glory are Yours forever. Amen.' 14 For if you forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others their offenses, your heavenly Father will not forgive yours.” (Matt 6:12-15)
16 Moshe said to Korach, “You and your group, be there before Adonai tomorrow – you, they and Aharon. 17 Each of you take his fire pan and put incense in it; every one of you, bring before Adonai his fire pan, 250 fire pans, you too, and Aharon – each one his fire pan.”
• This was something the high priest was to do. Something Aharon, as high priest, was allowed to do, because the LORD had made him holy [set apart] for this type of service.
◦ People and things which are dedicated to the LORD, set apart as holy to Him, are either totally separated to His service or totally consumed by fire.
▪ There is no half way. Whatever is dedicated to the LORD is His.
• This was part of the problem with Hananyah (Ananias) and Shappirah (Sapphira) in Acts 5, in our B'rit HaDashah reading for this parashah.
◦ They brought most of the money from the sale to the LORD, which was not a problem. The money was theirs to work with as they saw fit.
▪ The problem was that they said that all the money from the sale was LORD's, while they held on to part of it. They said it was all His; so He took all.
▪ Wanting the accolades of giving it all, (like they had seen Barnabas receive in the last verses of Acts 4,) they tested the Holy Spirit and lost everything.
18 Each man took his fire pan, put fire in it, laid incense on it and stood at the entrance to the tent of meeting with Moshe and Aharon. 19 Korach assembled all the group who were against them at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Then the glory of Adonai appeared to the whole assembly.
• Although they would not submit to his leadership they did here what Moshe said.
• The two groups had assembled; and then “the glory of Adonai appeared to the whole assembly.”
◦ That the LORD appeared is a terrible, fearful, wonderful thing.
◦ That He appeared to the whole assembly indicated the seriousness of the situation.
20 Adonai said to Moshe and Aharon, 21 Separate yourselves from this assembly; I'm going to destroy them right now!
• The LORD makes clear, decisive, definite distinctions; sometime with surgical precision.
◦ There are times when He calls us to do the same.
• “destroy” here comes from the Hebrew word כָּלָה [kah-lah] meaning
◦ Strong's: to end, whether intransitive (to cease, be finished, perish) or transitive (to complete, prepare, consume): -accomplish, cease, consume (away), determine, destroy (utterly), be (when … were) done, (be an) end (of), expire, (cause to) fail, faint, finish, fulfill, x fully, x have, leave (off), long, bring to pass, wholly reap, make clean riddance, spend, quite take away, waste.
◦ BDB: to accomplish, to cease, to consume, to determine, to end, to fail, to finish, to be complete, to be accomplished, to be ended, to be at an end, to be finished, to be spent
▪ here in the Piel verb form: to complete, to bring to an end, to finish; to complete (a period of time); to finish (doing a thing); to make an end, to end; to accomplish, to fulfill, to bring to pass; to accomplish, to determine (in thought); to put an end to, to cause to cease; to cause to fail, to exhaust, to use up, to spend; to destroy, to exterminate
• “right now” is from the Hebrew רֶגַע [reh-gah] meaning
◦ Strong's: a wink (of the eyes), i.e. a very short space of time
▪ as a masculine noun: a moment;
▪ as an adverb: for a moment, at one moment … at another moment;
▪ with a preposition: in a moment
22 They fell on their faces and said, “Oh God, God of the spirits of all humankind, if one person sins, are You going to be angry with the entire assembly?”
• Even though the nation was often rebellious, Moses and Aaron still “fell on their faces” and interceded for them. What an example!
◦ You have heard that our fathers were told, “'Love your neighbor' – and hate your enemy.” 44 But I tell you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 Then you will become children of your Father in heaven. For He makes His sun shine on good and bad people alike, and He send rain to the righteous and the unrighteous alike. 46 What reward do you get if you love only those who love you? Why, even tax-collectors do that! (Matt 4:43-46; cf Lk 6:28)
23 Adonai answered Moshe, 24 “Tell the assembly to move away from the homes of Korach, Datan and Aviram.” 25 Moshe got up and went to Datan and Aviram, and the leaders of Isra'el followed him. 26 There he said to the assembly, “Leave the tents of these wicked men! Don't touch anything that belongs to them, or you may be swept away in all their sins.”
• Until Christ returns and sets everything right we are called to be His priests in a fallen world (Ex 19:5-6; 1 Pet 2:5, 9), light in the darkness (Isa 51:4; Matt 5:14-16), and salt that some may be preserved (Matt 5:13), but
◦ There should be a clear distinction between the LORD's people and those who refuse to submit to Him and the leadership He has put in place.
▪ Therefore Adonai says, “'Go out from their midst; separate yourselves; don't even touch what is unclean. Then I Myself will receive you. 18 In fact, I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters.' says Adonai-Tzva'ot.” (2 Cor 6:17-18)
27 So they moved away from all around the area where Korach, Datan and Aviram lived. Then Datan and Aviram came out and stood at the entrance to their tents with their wives, sons and little ones. 28 Moshe said, “Here is how you will know that Adonai has sent me to do all these things and that I haven't done them out of my own ambition:
• Answering their charge, “You take too much on yourselves! After all, the entire community is holy, every one of them, and Adonai is among them. So why do you lift yourselves up above Adonai's assembly?” (verse 3)
◦ Their challenge of Moses' and Aaron's' authority was bold and public, the answer needed to be as well
29 if these men die a natural death like other people, only sharing the fate common to all humanity, then Adonai has not sent me. 30 But if Adonai does something new – if the ground opens up and swallows them with everything they own, and they go down alive to Sh'ol – then you will understand that these men have had contempt for Adonai.”
• I can almost see Moses pausing, thinking, praying … and then making this pronouncement.
• Showing contempt for what the LORD has established equals showing contempt for the LORD.
31 The moment he finished speaking, the ground under them split apart – 32 the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up with their households, all the people who had sided with Korach and everything they owned. 33 So they and everything they owned went down alive into Sh'ol, the earth closed over them and their existence in the community ceased. 34 All Isra'el around them fled at their shrieks, shouting, “The earth might swallow us too!” 35 Then fire came out from Adonai and destroyed the 250 men who had offered the incense.
• This was something new that Adonai did (vs 30).
◦ Not that there was an earthquake;
◦ Not that the LORD listened to a man;
◦ But the timing and specific nature of this quake:
▪ The moment Moses finished speaking;
▪ The earth swallowed all the people who had sided with Korach and everything they owned; and
▪ Then closed over them;
▪ Not affecting anyone else.
• “The earth might swallow us too!”
◦ Had they missed the supernatural nature of this earthquake?
◦ Or did they consider that they were also guilty and should be judged?
• “all the people who had sided with Korach”
◦ Reading ahead, we find that “the sons of Korach did not die” (Num 26:11), and their descendants wrote a number of the Psalms (e.g. Ps 42, 44-49, 84-85, 87-88)
▪ This shows us yet another example of the grace of God of the Old Testament,
▪ and illustrates that each person is judged for their own sin (cf Deut 24:16; Jer 31:30)
19 All the contributions of holy things which the people of Isra'el offer to Adonai I have given to you, your sons and your daughters with you; this is a perpetual law, an eternal covenant of salt before Adonai for you and your descendants with you.
• Salt never spoils, so a “covenant of salt” indicates something that can never be rescinded.
◦ Marriage is a covenant of salt. If infidelity is discovered, the injured spouse may take the salt and throw it outside: it is good for nothing except to be trampled under foot. (cf Matt 5:13)
◦ The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament [Lev 2:13]
Salt was used widely as symbolic of preservation. When treaties or alliances were made, salt was employed to symbolize that the terms would be preserved for a long time. Babylonian, Persian, Arabic and Greek contexts all testify to this symbolic usage. In the Bible, likewise, the covenant between the Lord and Israel is identified as a covenant of salt – a long-preserved covenant. Allies entering into such an agreement would generally share a communal meal where salted meat was featured. Thus the use of salt in the sacrifices was an appropriate reminder of the covenant relationship. Additionally, salt impedes the action of yeast (leaven), and since leaven was a symbol or rebellion, salt could easily represent that which inhibited rebellion. Finally, salt is symbolic for that which is infertile and therefore is use in curse pronouncements in treaties. In a Hittite treaty, the testator pronounces a curse: if the treaty is broken may he and his family and his lands, like salt that has no seed, likewise have no progeny.