Numbers 16 – Korah’s Rebellion
A. Korah and his followers oppose the leadership of Moses.
1. (1-3) The accusation against Moses and Aaron.
Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?”
a. Now Korah the son of Izhar: This rebellion, like all, had a leader and followers. This leader was Korah, descended from Kohath. Both Moses and Korah were descended from Kohath, but by different sons. Moses was from the family of Amram (Numbers 26:58-59), and Korah from the family of Izhar.
i. Amon the three divisions of the tribe of Levi, the Kohathites had the most prestigious duty. Their responsibility was to carry and care for the most holy things of the tabernacle, after Aaron and his sons had covered them with the specially prepared coverings (Numbers 4:15).
ii. Dathan, Abiram, and On were from the tribe of Reuben. In the arrangement of the tribes, the Levitical family of Kohath was placed near the tribe of Reuben. It’s not a surprise that the complaint and dissatisfaction of Korah spread among these three Reubenites.
iii. Korah perhaps said, “I’m also from the tribe of Levi, and Aaron is my cousin. Why does he get to be the priest and I don’t?” Dathan and Abiram perhaps said, “Reuben was the firstborn of Israel, so our tribe should lead. Why does Moses get to lead, and we don’t?”
b. You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy: Korah accused Moses of pride (too much upon yourselves) and love of power refusing to let others lead (all the congregation is holy). It is likely that Korah wanted some of the power and position that God had appointed to Moses.
i. It was significant this accusation was made publicly, in front of two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation…men of renown. Korah played to an audience, hoping to draw a following for himself.
c. You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: This was a clever attack. Korah acted as if he represented the people and fought for their interests. It is more likely that Korah wanted for himself some of the power and position God gave to Moses.
i. It was as if Korah said, “Moses, you shouldn’t be the leader. Let everyone be a leader. God can speak to everyone.”
ii. Significantly, Korah proclaimed the holiness of the people (all the congregation is holy) and regarded strong leadership as unnecessary (You take too much) at the very time when the nation was not holy and desperately needed strong leadership. Korah completely misreads the condition of God’s people, because he was not a true shepherd.
d. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the congregation of the LORD: Korah accused Moses (and Aaron) of pride and self-seeking. The truth was that Moses didn’t become leader of Israel by ambition or desire, but by the direct calling of God. Moses had a clear, God-appointed position of leadership, but he was not a proud man who saw himself above the congregation of the LORD.
i. “The attitude taken up by those who organized the movement was plausible and popular. It was democratic in its expression: ‘All the congregation are holy, every one of them, and Jehovah is among them.’ It was a plea for equal rights, and for independence of action.” (Morgan)
e. Two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown: On a human level, Korah was successful because these two hundred and fifty leaders followed him. These men did not lead the rebellion, but they did not have the discernment to oppose Korah, and instead followed him. It is a big problem with 250 prominent leaders support a man like Korah.
i. These 250 were leaders, but they were not the elders of Israel, appointed in Numbers 10:16-30. The distinction between these leaders and the elders of Israel is made clear by verse 25.
2. (4-11) The response of Moses to Korah and his company.
So when Moses heard it, he fell on his face; and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, “Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him. That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him. Do this: Take censers, Korah and all your company; put fire in them and put incense in them before the LORD tomorrow, and it shall be that the man whom the LORD chooses is the holy one. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!” Then Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi: Is it 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 work of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also? Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the LORD. And what is Aaron that you complain against him?”
a. When Moses heard it, he fell on his face: When Moses heard of the dangerous unbelief of Israel, he and Aaron fell on their face before God (Numbers 14:5). Now, at the dangerous rebellion of Korah, Moses once again fell on his face, in a humble posture of prayer.
i. Being a humble man, Moses probably asked God if his critics were right or had something to teach him. Moses probably asked God what should be done in the situation. He certainly asked God to spare the nation and he asked God to not allow these divisive men to bring permanent harm to the people of God.
b. Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His and who is holy: We don’t know how long Moses prayed, but after praying he had a sense of God’s direction for this crisis. He issued a challenge where Korah and his followers would come before the LORD, and Moses and Aaron would also come, so that the LORD would make His choice of leaders clear.
c. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi! This shows that Moses did not doubt the outcome of the test. He knew that God would prove Korah wrong. Moses was unafraid to put it to the test.
d. Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel: Moses reminded Korah that God gave them an honorable service that they now apparently regarded as a small thing. Their role in serving the priests, carrying, and caring for the holy articles of the tabernacle brought them near to God, but Korah wasn’t content with his calling.
i. Even if Korah was right – if Moses had become proud and power-hungry – this was the wrong way to approach the problem. This public challenge was the wrong way to confront someone so obviously called and appointed to leadership as Moses was. Korah use of ungodly methods (accusation, intimidation, the gathering of a rival following) was wrong.
e. What is Aaron, that you complain against him? We can only imagine what Aaron thought about all this. Aaron and his sister Miriam came against Moses before, as in Numbers 12. That ended in ruin for Aaron and Miriam, and we might imagine that Aaron thought, “Korah, don’t make the same mistake that I made.”
3. (12-14) Dathan and Abiram speak for the rebels.
And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, but they said, “We will not come up! “Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us? Moreover you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!”
a. Dathan and Abiram: These were co-conspirators with Korah (Numbers 16:1). They would not meet with Moses, nor answer his challenge. Instead, they accused Moses of wanting to kill the people of God.
b. You have brought us out of a land of milk and honey: Dathan and Abiram lied about the past. They thought of Egypt as a land of milk and honey, even for the Hebrew slaves. Their lie about the past made Moses look as bad as possible.
c. To kill us in the wilderness: Dathan and Abiram assigned an evil heart to Moses. They spoke as if they had discovered a secret plot of Moses and Aaron: To lead Israel into the wilderness and kill them all. This was foolish.
d. That you should keep acting like a prince over us: Dathan and Abiram refused to acknowledge progress in Moses. Some 40 years before this, Moses was a prince, a self-confident man who thought he could deliver and lead Israel himself. God broke him of that self-confidence with 40 years of humble service in the wilderness. Yet Dathan and Abiram spoke as if Moses was still an arrogant prince.
e. You have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey: This shows that Dathan and Abiram had unfair expectation of Moses. It was true that Moses had not yet brought them to Canaan. Yet, it was wrong to blame Moses for this, and wrong to think that Korah could have done any better.
i. It is easy for men like Korah to say, “If I led Israel, we would already be in Canaan.” But Korah was not leading Israel, and men of his type rarely do. God rarely puts side-line critics in positions of real leadership – except as a punishment, to show them just how difficult leadership is, and to show them that perfect leadership, like perfect anything, is impossible.
ii. Leaders should expect to be held to a higher standard; but it is obviously unfair to hold a leader to a perfect standard.
f. We will not come up: Dathan and Abiram considered themselves under no authority. It was as if they said: “Moses, we have no respect for your authority. We will listen to God, but not to you. Your word means nothing to us, and we will not come up.” Apparently, the 250 other leaders agreed with Dathan and Abiram; none of those 250 raised an opposing voice to their harsh accusations.
i. “It is difficult to believe the level of acrimony that we find in Dathan and Abiram. They are not even willing to come to appear before Moses to face charges. Twice they refuse absolutely.” (Allen)
4. (15-19a) Moses restates his challenge.
Then Moses was very angry, and said to the LORD, “Do not respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them.” And Moses said to Korah, “Tomorrow, you and all your company be present before the LORD; you and they, as well as Aaron. Let each take his censer and put incense in it, and each of you bring his censer before the LORD, two hundred and fifty censers; both you and Aaron, each with his censer.” So every man took his censer, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and stood at the door of the tabernacle of meeting with Moses and Aaron. And Korah gathered all the congregation against them at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.
a. Then Moses was very angry, and said to the LORD: After the words of Dathan and Abiram, Moses was angry – very angry. He knew he had done nothing to deserve such accusations, and Moses did the right thing. Moses left the situation to God.
i. Moses was a man of political power who had soldiers and something like the police at his command. He was able to have Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their followers arrested and executed. Instead, Moses trusted God to resolve this rebellion.
ii. Sometimes people are offended that a man like Moses was angry with men like Dathan and Abiram. They think a gentle, easy love is the proper response. Such thinking is understandable, but wrong. Shepherds are gentle with wayward sheep who might injure themselves, but they are passionate against wolves who would injure the flock.
b. I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them: Moses declared that he was a man of integrity and service to the people. Moses could rest in his clean conscience before God.
i. This reminds us of Paul’s testimony before the Ephesian elders in Acts 20: Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God… I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel… I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak (Acts 20:26-27, 33, 35). When a leader is troubled by rebellious and divisive persons, they should be able to take refuge in a clean conscience.
c. Let each take his censer and put incense in it, and each of you bring his censer before the LORD: This specified the challenge. God would approve or disapprove of the 250 men gathered with censers of incense before the door of the tabernacle.
i. There was a good reason for God to use the censers with fire and incense in this test. A censer is a metal pot used to burn incense, and they were used in the priestly service of Israel. Since Korah and his companions questioned Moses and Aaron’s right to lead the nation and lead the priesthood, each group would come to the LORD as worshipping priests, and the LORD would show which group He accepted.
ii. Moses allowed the rebels to take the position they desired – the position of priest. Sometimes the best judgment on the divisive and rebellious is to let them lead.
iii. Humanly speaking, the odds were against Moses and Aaron. Two men stood against more than 250 others, in the presence of all the congregation. Yet God would make this choice, and not popular opinion.
iv. “Korah gathered the congregation, that they might be witnesses of the event, and, upon their success, which they doubted not of, might fall upon Moses and Aaron with popular rage, and destroy them.” (Poole)
B. God affirms Moses’ leadership over the nation of Israel.
1. (19b-21) God announces judgment on the rebels.
Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation. And the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.”
a. The glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation: This was the presence of the shekinah, the cloud of God’s glory. God would speak to this controversy in a strong, direct, clear way.
b. Separate yourselves from among this congregation: It is as if God said, “Moses and Aaron, will you please move away? I’m going to destroy all these rebels in an instant, and I don’t want you to get hurt.”
c. That I may consume them in a moment: God decided to make His choice immediately evident. Sometimes this is not the case when God deals with those who rebel and divide, but it was the way God worked on this occasion.
2. (22) The intercession of Moses and Aaron for Korah and the rebels.
Then they fell on their faces, and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?”
a. Then they fell on their faces: Once again, Moses and Aaron humbled themselves before God. With great love, they asked God to spare all the congregation.
i. Perhaps one reason God allowed Moses and Aaron to experience this painful rebellion was to allow them to display this kind of love for all the congregation. Such love for the undeserving shows that Moses and Aaron were growing in love and being transformed into the image of Jesus – before Jesus ever walked the earth.
ii. Again, the importance of prayer is emphasized. It seems as if there were no prayer, then the rebellious congregation would be destroyed. We should think that Moses’ prayer was essential.
b. Shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation: Even though more than 250 leaders opposed Moses and Aaron, they rightly understood this to be the work of one man. Korah was the center of all this.
3. (23-27) God warns of the judgment soon to come upon Korah and his companions.
So the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.’”
Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. And he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins.” So they got away from around the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, with their wives, their sons, and their little children.
a. Get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram: This was God’s mercy. The LORD told Moses to warn the people of Israel to separate themselves from the rebellion of Korah, so they would not be caught up in the judgment soon to come against them.
b. The elders of Israel followed him: This was glorious. God had appointed elders back in Numbers 11:16-30, in response to a previous attack on Moses’ leadership. There, the elders were to be men with the same spirit and vision as Moses, men to help him bear the burden, men to stand with Moses. Here they did exactly what God appointed them to do.
c. Lest you should be consumed in all their sins: Moses, in response to God’s command to get away from the tents of the leaders of the rebellion (Korah, Dathan, and Abiram), pleaded with the people to separate themselves from the divisive persons. The people did this (they got away from around the tents).
i. The same attitude should be among God’s people today. They should stay away from divisive, argumentative, contentious people in God’s family. There should be an appropriate fear of being caught in the same judgment or correction that they will bring upon themselves.
ii. The New Testament also speaks along this same principle:
· Reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned. (Titus 3:10-11)
· Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18)
iii. Divisive and contentious people will never claim to be divisive and contentious. They always consider their work a noble cause. Therefore, God’s people need discernment to look at what others do, not only at what they say.
4. (28-35) God’s judgment on Korah and his companions.
And Moses said: “By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will. If these men die naturally like all men, or if they are visited by the common fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD creates a new thing, and the earth opens its 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 rejected the LORD.”
Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly. Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up also!”
And a fire came out from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense.
a. By this you shall know: God gave Moses supernatural insight to know that a special judgment (a new thing) would come upon Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. The earth would swallow them up, as evidence that these men have rejected the LORD.
b. The ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up: This was God’s judgment upon Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their families.
i. It is not comfortable for us to see their families also judged, but this shows that the families of the rebellious, divisive, contentious people suffer also – often greatly.
c. Went alive down into the pit: Literally, the went alive into Sheol. This was the Hebrew concept of the realm of the dead, under the earth’s surface (where the dead were buried). These were not buried; they went alive down into the pit. There was no need to dig graves; God dug their graves and sent them straight to the realm of the dead.
i. There was an unusual mercy shown to a remnant in this. “It turns out that there are survivors of Korah’s family who extend all the way to the time of David and beyond. Numbers 26:10–11 tells us that Korah was among those whom the earth swallowed but that his sons did not die with him. His descendants would later become the temple singers, responsible for the crafting of numerous psalms.” (Allen)
d. A fire came out from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men: God appointed judgment for those who walked in agreement with Korah. Korah and his close associates were swallowed…up by the earth, but the two hundred and fifty men were destroyed by fire. Their worship was not received.
i. “By fire they sinned, and by a fire they suffer.” (Trapp)
ii. “Thus there were two distinct punishments, the pit and the fire, for the two divisions of these rebels.” (Clarke)
5. (36-40) A bronze covering for the altar.
Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “Tell Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, to pick up the censers out of the blaze, for they are holy, and scatter the fire some distance away. The censers of these men who sinned against their own souls, let them be made into hammered plates as a covering for the altar. Because they presented them before the LORD, therefore they are holy; and they shall be a sign to the children of Israel.” So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers, which those who were burned up had presented, and they were hammered out as a covering on the altar, to be a memorial to the children of Israel that no outsider, who is not a descendant of Aaron, should come near to offer incense before the LORD, that he might not become like Korah and his companions, just as the LORD had said to him through Moses.
a. Pick up the censers out of the blaze, for they are holy…. let them be made into hammered plates as a covering for the altar: The censers were beaten flat and used to cover the main altar of sacrifice. The censers of the rebels were holy and preserved because even though Korah and his followers worshipped wrongly, they worshipped the right God.
i. “Can you imagine the scene? True priests are picking among the bodies, charred flesh, stench, smoke, smoldering embers, and twisted parts. They are to make a count. There were 250 censers; not one is to be lost. Each one is recorded, each one cleansed, each one holy.” (Allen)
ii. In the end, each one of the 250 were identified with Korah. Perhaps that wasn’t how they meant it. We can imagine some among the 250 saying, “I don’t agree with everything Korah says, but he’s got some good points.” Before God all those distinctions were lost. All the censers were hammered together, and the group was collectively titled: Korah and his companions.
b. Scatter the fire some distance away: The fire the 250 leaders presented was not holy and was to be scattered away. It was a strange fire – not accepted by God at all.
c. They were hammered out as a covering on the altar, to be a memorial to the children of Israel: The censers were thus memorialized and served as an important reminder. God appoints His leaders, and no one should be a divisive rebel like Korah. The flattened censers were a sign to Israel, a solemn warning – like the remains of a smashed automobile can warn others to drive safely.
i. If Christians today encounter ungodly, divisive leadership they should take care not to imitate the errors of Korah and his companions. Often (not always), the proper approach is to protect one’s own safety and leave it to God to deal with arrogant and abusive leadership, as David later did with Saul.
ii. In the Hebrew edition of the Old Testament, Numbers 16:36 begins a new chapter (Numbers 17).
C. The people murmur against Moses and Aaron.
1. (41) The accusation is made: You have killed the people of the LORD.
On the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the LORD.”
a. On the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron: Poor Moses! He probably hoped that all the trouble was over when the rebels were judged. But now he had to deal with those who were sympathetic to the divisive people and who felt sorry for them.
b. You have killed the people of the LORD: Their accusation against Moses was bizarre. Moses certainly did not kill them. When judgment came against more than 250 people, it was evidently the hand of God, not of Moses.
2. (42-45) The threat of judgment on the children of Israel for their sympathy for Korah.
Now it happened, when the congregation had gathered against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tabernacle of meeting; and suddenly the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared. Then Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of meeting. And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” And they fell on their faces.
a. The cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared: Once again, the shekinah glory of God appeared and would defend Moses.
b. Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment: God reacted the same way towards the sympathizers among the congregation as He did towards Korah and his company. Evidently, these people deserve to be judged.
c. And they fell on their faces: Once again, Moses and Aaron humbled themselves before God. This showed that they took the threat of judgment seriously. They understood that it was no small thing for the congregation to sympathize with the divisive, contentious people who opposed Moses and Aaron.
3. (46-50) Aaron’s intercession stops the plague of judgment upon the children of Israel.
So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a censer and put fire in it from the altar, put incense on it, and take it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from the LORD. The plague has begun.” Then Aaron took it as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the assembly; and already the plague had begun among the people. So he put in the incense and made atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; so the plague was stopped. Now those who died in the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those who died in the Korah incident. So Aaron returned to Moses at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, for the plague had stopped.
a. Take a censer and put fire in it from the altar, put incense on it, and take it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them: God had promised judgment in verse 45 (that I may consume them in a moment). Therefore, Moses told Aaron, as the high priest among God’s people, to immediately offer incense to make atonement for the congregation.
i. “Aaron took the true priestly censer and used it to bring atonement and purification on behalf of the Israelite camp so that the plague brought on by the insurrection could be averted.” (Cole)
ii. Fire from the altar: The fire that went into the censers of Korah and his companions did not come from the altar – it was strange fire, unauthorized fire. When Moses told Aaron to offer incense to stop the plague, he specifically told him to take the fire from the altar.
b. Then Aaron took it as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the assembly: As the plague swept through the people like a wildfire, the high priest Aaron ran into the midst of the danger, to rescue those who wanted he and Moses dead.
i. We have no reason to think that Korah or his group would have shown the same mercy to Moses. They might have passively said, “God, go ahead and give them what they deserve. I knew they deserved it.” Korah and the complainers didn’t have the same shepherd’s heart for Israel that Moses and Aaron did.
c. So he put in the incense and made atonement for the people: A censer filled with burning incense was used to stop the plague. Incense is a picture of prayer in the Bible (as in Revelation 8:3-4), because the sweet-smelling smoke of incense ascends to heaven illustrate prayer that pleases God. This was a dramatic picture of Aaron, as high priest, interceding for God’s people.
d. And he stood between the dead and the living, so the plague was stopped: The plague stopped where Aaron prayed. Intercessors do the same thing today; they stand between the dead and the living, begging for God’s mercy, preserving and promoting life with their prayer.
i. To stand between the dead and the living speaks of how serious the matter of prayer is. It is no casual pursuit, no fatalistic exercise in self-improvement. Prayer moves the hand of God and moves it to stop death and to give life.
e. Those who died in the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred: This is a large number, but not compared to the consuming of the whole nation. This was another step in the passing of the generation of unbelief in the wilderness, so a new generation of faith and boldness could be raised up to take the Promised Land.
i. Aaron the high priest’s work here is a picture of our High Priest Jesus Christ, and His work on our behalf. We were guilty sinners deserving judgment and we were rightly plagued.
· Our Savior was sent on a mission to save.
· Our Savior was unjustly accused and attacked.
· Our Savior rescued those who wanted Him dead.
· Our Savior prayed on our behalf.
· Our Savior “ran” to save us.
· Our Savior did this work alone – Moses the lawgiver did not help Him. All law could do is say, “Something must be done,” but the law was powerless to rescue. Only the High Priest could stop this deathly plague.
· Our Savior stood between death and life for us.
· Our Savior is the only chance for salvation.
· Our Savior is the dividing line between death and life.
ii. “Aaron wisely puts himself in the pathway of the plague. It came on, cutting down all before it, and there stood Aaron the interposer with arms outstretched and censer swinging towards the heaven, interposing himself between the darts of death and the people. ‘If there be darts that must fly,’ he seemed to say, ‘let them pierce me; or let the incense shield both me and the people.’” (Spurgeon)
iii. “If Aaron the high priest, with his censer and incense, could disarm the wrath of an insulted, angry Deity, so that a guilty people, who deserved nothing but destruction, should be spared; how much more effectual may we expect the great atonement to be which was made by the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom Aaron was only the type! The sacrifices of living animals pointed out the death of Christ on the cross; the incense, his intercession. Through his death salvation is purchased for the world; by his intercession the offending children of men are spared.” (Clarke)
iv. God would not allow a “second priesthood” under Korah or anyone else. God appointed one way of atonement and salvation, and would make none other. “The way of God’s own appointment, the agony and death of Christ, is the only way in which souls can be saved. His is the priesthood, and his is the only available sacrifice. All other modes and schemes of salvation are the inventions of men or devils, and will in the end prove ruinous to all those who trust in them.” (Clarke)