Saturday, March 5, 2011

Aftermath of Korah's Rebellion (Num. 18-20)

SEAN - After Korah's rebellion was squashed by Yahweh (God), it was time to re-emphasize the role of priests. Also, frustration ended up bringing Moses down. For those just tuning in, Korah was a Levite man (temple worker) who wanted to be a priest, but Yahweh had said that only Aaron's sons could be priests. Korah demanded to be made a priest, and had all of Israel's popular support, so God opened a giant hole in the earth under Korah's tent, which killed him. The end. God chooses to give certain roles to some and not to others, and ignoring those boundaries was/is apparently dangerous for one's health.

Based on's Chronological Bible In a Year schedule. If anyone would like to join in, this blog's comments sections would be a good forum in which to share insights from the text.

What Priests Really Do In the Tent of Meeting
You know what a priest really did in the tent of meeting? Everything. If a normal Levite even tried to get in, he died (Numbers 18.3). The Levites could collect a tithe and guard the tent of meeting (Numbers 18.21-22) but they could not get into the tent of meeting.* After Korah (a Levite) started a rebellion against Moses and Aaron (a Priest), these ground rules had to be laid down again for emphasis. So the real point is knowing your place. I think the whole debate of "can regular Levites be Priests?" is kind of like today's "can women be pastors?" argument. There is nothing that makes Aaron's sons better than other Levites, and nothing that makes men better than women. But God has laid down His wishes (1 Timothy 2.11-13) and anything else is just falling into the same sin as Korah.

Follow Something Explosive With Something Routine
Moving on from the explosive and (potentially) offensive words about Levites -and women- in Numbers 18, we get back into the regular business of temple work. It's almost like this is the "and now that we have established the ground rules and offended everybody, let's get on to business" part of today's reading. The kind of thing that this chapter covers is the most routine and regular part of temple work imaginable: purification from uncleanliness. Special Note: one of the sacrifices is a red cow. These aren't terribly common, but The Temple Institute has found one in Israel after much searching, and they're ready to tear down the Dome of the Rock and start rebuilding the Temple. The red cow was supposed to be sacrificed outside of the city, just like Jesus was when He got crucified for our sins.

Even the Humble Man Has Limits
Korah's rebellion was the biggest that Moses faced between the Exodus of 1441 BC and his death 40 years later, but it wasn't the only one. It seems like the first Israelites only stopped complaining long enough to eat, sleep, or have sex with pagan women (see Numbers 25 - it's coming). Understandably, Moses broke as recorded in Numbers 20.10 and yelled at Israel and called them names before smashing rocks with his staff to make water come out. For that sin, God took away Moses' chance to lead Israel into the Holy Land - for smashing the rock instead of speaking to it, revealing a lack of faith that God would come through and show Himself as holy before Israel (Numbers 20.12-13). This seems to be a recurring pattern: lack of faith kept Moses from the promised land, just like lack of faith keeps us from heaven. Faith is really the deciding factor.

Other comments and observations can be found in the comments section! Join in!

*the whole tabernacle is called a tent, but the Levites only serve in the courts, not the Tent of Meeting itself. That should sort out any confusion for those of you who clicked the link.

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