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Numbers 16

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Our response to the rebellion of men is prayer.

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Numbers 16:1–7 CSB
1 Now Korah son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took 2 two hundred and fifty prominent Israelite men who were leaders of the community and representatives in the assembly, and they rebelled against Moses. 3 They came together against Moses and Aaron and told them, “You have gone too far! Everyone in the entire community is holy, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” 4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown. 5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will reveal who belongs to him, who is set apart, and the one he will let come near him. He will let the one he chooses come near him. 6 Korah, you and all your followers are to do this: take firepans, and tomorrow 7 place fire in them and put incense on them before the Lord. Then the man the Lord chooses will be the one who is set apart. It is you Levites who have gone too far!”
Numbers 16:18–24 CSB
18 Each man took his firepan, placed fire in it, put incense on it, and stood at the entrance to the tent of meeting along with Moses and Aaron. 19 After Korah assembled the whole community against them at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole community. 20 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves from this community so I may consume them instantly.” 22 But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and said, “God, God who gives breath to all, when one man sins, will you vent your wrath on the whole community?” 23 The Lord replied to Moses, 24 “Tell the community: Get away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”
Numbers 16:31–35 CSB
31 Just as he finished speaking all these words, the ground beneath them split open. 32 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, all Korah’s people, and all their possessions. 33 They went down alive into Sheol with all that belonged to them. The earth closed over them, and they vanished from the assembly. 34 At their cries, all the people of Israel who were around them fled because they thought, “The earth may swallow us too!” 35 Fire also came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were presenting the incense.
Numbers 16:41–47 CSB
41 The next day the entire Israelite community complained about Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the Lord’s people!” 42 When the community assembled against them, Moses and Aaron turned toward the tent of meeting, and suddenly the cloud covered it, and the Lord’s glory appeared. 43 Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting, 44 and the Lord said to Moses, 45 “Get away from this community so that I may consume them instantly.” But they fell facedown. 46 Then Moses told Aaron, “Take your firepan, place fire from the altar in it, and add incense. Go quickly to the community and make atonement for them, because wrath has come from the Lord; the plague has begun.” 47 So Aaron took his firepan as Moses had ordered, ran into the middle of the assembly, and saw that the plague had begun among the people. After he added incense, he made atonement for the people.

I. As the world rebels against God, pray.

Numbers 16:1–4 CSB
1 Now Korah son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took 2 two hundred and fifty prominent Israelite men who were leaders of the community and representatives in the assembly, and they rebelled against Moses. 3 They came together against Moses and Aaron and told them, “You have gone too far! Everyone in the entire community is holy, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” 4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown.

A. Our instant reaction to wickedness should be look to God.

Numbers 16:4–7 CSB
4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown. 5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will reveal who belongs to him, who is set apart, and the one he will let come near him. He will let the one he chooses come near him. 6 Korah, you and all your followers are to do this: take firepans, and tomorrow 7 place fire in them and put incense on them before the Lord. Then the man the Lord chooses will be the one who is set apart. It is you Levites who have gone too far!”
Numbers 16:1–4 CSB
1 Now Korah son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took 2 two hundred and fifty prominent Israelite men who were leaders of the community and representatives in the assembly, and they rebelled against Moses. 3 They came together against Moses and Aaron and told them, “You have gone too far! Everyone in the entire community is holy, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” 4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown.
Illus: We are living in a time where it seems we are always at war with someone.
The kind of war we are in is not a physical get out your guns (though I do know we live in a highly concentrated place with lots of guns).
Instead we are living in a day where we are constantly called to take sides on issues that surround us.
If someone offends you, or speaks against you or your group, you feel a need to react immediately. You cannot let their fake news or false truth stand unanswered.
The same is true if you hear someone gossiping about you. Not only do you feel the need to correct their gossip, you also feel the need to justify your actions by belittling them.
Moses prayed. Instead of reacting , he prayed. In fact, the Bible teaches that there is a specific process when you are offended, but even in confronting offenders, the entire process should be bathed in prayer.
Prayer places both ourselves and our circumstances under God’s control.
Matthew 18:15–20 CSB
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he won’t listen, take one or two others with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. 17 If he doesn’t pay attention to them, tell the church. If he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like a Gentile and a tax collector to you. 18 Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will have been loosed in heaven. 19 Again, truly I tell you, if two of you on earth agree about any matter that you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them.”

B. When we pray, God leads.

Numbers 16:4–7 CSB
4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown. 5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will reveal who belongs to him, who is set apart, and the one he will let come near him. He will let the one he chooses come near him. 6 Korah, you and all your followers are to do this: take firepans, and tomorrow 7 place fire in them and put incense on them before the Lord. Then the man the Lord chooses will be the one who is set apart. It is you Levites who have gone too far!”
Illus: Notice Moses’ reaction… He did not say that He would assume comand, instead he placed the decision in God’s hands.
Moses had to have the humility to accept God’s leadership. He had to have the faith to accept God’s way.
BTW, God could have told Moses to step down. Moses position in prayer was for God’s will to be done, not for his position and ego to be preserved.
How tough is that.
In your life, do you care more for your reputation, your way, your position, or for God’s will?
True faith take the position that you will not vindicate yourself, but instead trust that God is in control.
Matthew 6:9–10 CSB
9 “Therefore, you should pray like this: Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

II. As the wrath of God approaches, pray.

Numbers 16:18–24 CSB
18 Each man took his firepan, placed fire in it, put incense on it, and stood at the entrance to the tent of meeting along with Moses and Aaron. 19 After Korah assembled the whole community against them at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole community. 20 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves from this community so I may consume them instantly.” 22 But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and said, “God, God who gives breath to all, when one man sins, will you vent your wrath on the whole community?” 23 The Lord replied to Moses, 24 “Tell the community: Get away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”

A. A day of reckoning is coming for those who rebel against God.

Numbers 16:31–35 CSB
31 Just as he finished speaking all these words, the ground beneath them split open. 32 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, all Korah’s people, and all their possessions. 33 They went down alive into Sheol with all that belonged to them. The earth closed over them, and they vanished from the assembly. 34 At their cries, all the people of Israel who were around them fled because they thought, “The earth may swallow us too!” 35 Fire also came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were presenting the incense.
Illus: I remember a particularly tough season for Jenn and myself in ministry. We had stepped into a church which had attempted to fire pastors before me, attempted to fire me, and fired the pastor after me.
There was a woman, and she was a gossip. She stirred the contention of the church. She would grasp and stoke any gripe she could get to cause more and more dissension in the church.
At one point during my pastorate I didn’t want to come to church. In fact I hated going to church.
Seeing the spiritual battle I was in, my wife started coming up at the ridiculous hour with me so that as I turned on the lights throughout the church, she would pray over every class in the church.
During one very contentious time in my life, as I was wounded and weary as a pastor, my wife realized that I could not handle seeing the woman during the morning service.
She prayed that God would prevent her from coming to the church if she meant harm.
That morning, she had a heart attack.
You might think that the moral of that story was that you should not cross Jenn’s prayer life…
but after church, I made a hospital visit to this woman. Why? Because I needed to love my enemies and trust that God was in control.
Luke 6:27–28 CSB
27 “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

B. Do you have a heart to plead for the salvation of sinners?

Numbers 16:20–22 CSB
20 The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves from this community so I may consume them instantly.” 22 But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and said, “God, God who gives breath to all, when one man sins, will you vent your wrath on the whole community?”
Illus: Do you care more for the souls of those opposed to you, or more about proving your are right in their eyes.
Do you care more about other’s spiritual condition, or for your own reputation?
It really is a question of faith. Do you genuinely believe God is in charge, that he sees all that happens in this world, and than what he thinks of you what matters.
Moses didn’t worry about whether he was in charge, because he knew God was. He saw through spiritual eyes understanding what would happen to the people if they continued in their rebellion.
What if we saw the culture war not through politics, but instead through spiritual eyes.
Would we demean those whom are opposed to us? Would we slander them? NO… Instead we would earnestly seek God’s hand at work in their lives, all the while our words and actions would reflect the hope of Christ for them.
Romans 12:11–12 CSB
11 Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.

III. Do you care enough to pray?

Numbers 16:41–47 CSB
41 The next day the entire Israelite community complained about Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the Lord’s people!” 42 When the community assembled against them, Moses and Aaron turned toward the tent of meeting, and suddenly the cloud covered it, and the Lord’s glory appeared. 43 Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting, 44 and the Lord said to Moses, 45 “Get away from this community so that I may consume them instantly.” But they fell facedown. 46 Then Moses told Aaron, “Take your firepan, place fire from the altar in it, and add incense. Go quickly to the community and make atonement for them, because wrath has come from the Lord; the plague has begun.” 47 So Aaron took his firepan as Moses had ordered, ran into the middle of the assembly, and saw that the plague had begun among the people. After he added incense, he made atonement for the people.

A. Moses could have turned to anger or bitterness, but he chose to pray.

Illus: This is a hard sermon for me. The list of people that I hold on my heart who have hurt me.
Something will come up, and the memories of wrongs done will just hit me like a sledge hammer.
I don’t want to forgive.
That said, my ability to forgive is not based on them doing the right thing, or apologizing for what they have done.
My forgiveness sits on Jesus Christ who died for me when I was a broken sinner.
If Christ can forgive me of every thought, word and action, surely I can forgive my fellow man.
1 Timothy 2:5–8 CSB
5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time. 7 For this I was appointed a herald, an apostle (I am telling the truth; I am not lying), and a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth. 8 Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument.
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