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Moses 35 – Sin Against The Holy Apirit, Korag, Datan, Abiram


Deception is such a dangerous thing. Have you been deceived? What price did you pay for your ignorance? Christ warns us in Matthew 24 against deception. Let us follow the rules of the Kingdom of God so that Satan will not be able to deceive us with his lies.

The people had been flattered by Korah and his company until they really believed themselves to be very good people, and that they had been wronged and abused by Moses. Should they admit that Korah and his company were wrong, and Moses right, then they would be compelled to receive as the word of God the sentence that they must die in the wilderness.

They were not willing to submit to this, and they tried to believe that Moses had deceived them. They had fondly cherished the hope that a new order of things was about to be established, in which praise would be substituted for reproof, and ease for anxiety and conflict.

The men who had perished had spoken flattering words and had professed great interest and love for them, and the people concluded that Korah and his companions must have been good men, and that Moses had by some means been the cause of their destruction.

It is hardly possible for men to offer greater insult to God than to despise and reject the instrumentalities He would use for their salvation. The Israelites had not only done this, but had purposed to put both Moses and Aaron to death. Yet they did not realize the necessity of seeking pardon of God for their grievous sin.

That night of probation was not passed in repentance and confession, but in devising some way to resist the evidences which showed them to be the greatest of sinners.

They still cherished hatred of the men of God’s appointment, and braced themselves to resist their authority. Satan was at hand to pervert their judgment and lead them blindfold to destruction.

All Israel had fled in alarm at the cry of the doomed sinners who went down into the pit, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up also.”

Numbers 16:41 “But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, ye have killed the people of the Lord.”

And they were about to proceed to violence against their faithful, self-sacrificing leaders.

A manifestation of the divine glory was seen in the cloud above the tabernacle, and a voice from the cloud spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Get you up from among this congregation, that I may consume them as in a moment.”

The guilt of sin did not rest upon Moses, and hence he did not fear and did not hasten away and leave the congregation to perish.

Moses lingered, in this fearful crisis manifesting the true shepherd’s interest for the flock of his care. He pleaded that the wrath of God might not utterly destroy the people of His choice.

By his intercession he stayed the arm of vengeance, that a full end might not be made of disobedient, rebellious Israel.

But the minister of wrath had gone forth; the plague was doing its work of death. By his brother’s direction, Aaron took a censer and hastened into the midst of the congregation to “make an atonement for them.”

“And he stood between the dead and the living.” As the smoke of the incense ascended, the prayers of Moses in the tabernacle went up to God; and the plague was stayed; but not
until fourteen thousand of Israel lay dead, an evidence of the guilt of murmuring and rebellion.

But further evidence was given that the priesthood had been established in the family of Aaron. By divine direction each tribe prepared a rod and wrote upon it the name of the tribe.

Numbers 17:1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

Probably soon after the staying of the plague, so that further steps might be taken to root out completely the spirit of rebellion.

Verse 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and get from them a rod from each father’s house, all their leaders according to their fathers’ houses—twelve rods. Write each man’s name on his rod.

God still recognized Moses as mediator between Himself and His people. Not as individuals, but as representatives of each tribe.

There were 12 tribes in addition to Levi; but there was also a rod for Aaron.

The writing may have been done with some form of ink, or was perhaps cut in. The names of the princes, one for each rod, were placed on the staves.

Verse 3 And you shall write Aaron’s name on the rod of Levi. For there shall be one rod for the head of each father’s house.

Inasmuch as there was no prince to represent Levi, Moses inscribed the name of Aaron upon the rod for the tribe of Levi. Aaron alone should hold the high office to which he had been assigned. No other, even of the tribe of Levi, might aspire to that office.

Verse 4 Then you shall place them in the tabernacle of meeting before the Testimony, where I meet with you.

This was apparently in the most holy place

Where I meet with you.

Literally, “where I meet with you.” The very place where God had said He would speak with Moses (Ex. 25:22), and through him to the people.

Verse 5 And it shall be that the rod of the man whom I choose will blossom; thus I will rid Myself of the complaints of the children of Israel, which they make against you.”6 So Moses spoke to the children of Israel, and each of their leaders gave him a rod apiece, for each leader according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods; and the rod of Aaron was among their rods.

Further grumbling against Aaron would be open defiance of Jehovah.

Verse 7 And Moses placed the rods before the LORD in the tabernacle of witness.

Literally, “in the presence of Jehovah.”

Verse 8 Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds.

Moses had implicit faith in the immediate operation of divine power.

Yielded almonds.

Here was evidence of God’s pleasure. The staff that had been placed there for Aaron could not have received life, germinated, brought forth bud, flower, and mature fruit if God had not imparted to it life and miraculous growth. None could doubt that a miracle had been performed.

Verse 9 Then Moses brought out all the rods from before the LORD to all the children of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod.

That is, examined the rods. Each prince identified his own staff. The evidence was clear.

Verse 10 And the LORD said to Moses, “Bring Aaron’s rod back before the Testimony, to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put their complaints away from Me, lest they die.”

The rod was to be returned to the place where the miracle had been performed (Heb. 9:4). The people would be convinced that to oppose Moses and Aaron would be to set themselves in opposition against God.

Verses 11,12 Thus did Moses; just as the LORD had commanded him, so he did. 12 So the children of Israel spoke to Moses, saying, “Surely we die, we perish, we all perish!

A fitting sense of awe and fear entered into the hearts of the people and made them willing to approach Moses as the mediator chosen by God. The people realized that their future safety depended upon obedience to God’s will.

Verse 13 Whoever even comes near the tabernacle of the LORD must die. Shall we all utterly die?”

Whoever That is aside from the priests (see ch. 16:40).

The people now realized that access to Jehovah, the privilege they had sought through Korah (16:3–5), might be theirs only through the mediatorship of those appointed by God.

Also, they no doubt remembered the curse of 14:35, that “in this wilderness they shall be consumed.” Listen to the apt way in which one author describes the event:

“The name of Aaron was upon that of Levi. The rods were laid up in the tabernacle, ‘before the testimony.’ The blossoming of any rod was to be a token that the Lord had chosen that tribe for the priesthood. On the morrow, ‘behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.’

It was shown to the people, and afterward laid up in the tabernacle as a witness to succeeding generations. This miracle effectually settled the question of the priesthood. It was now fully established that Moses and Aaron had spoken by divine authority, and the people were compelled to believe the unwelcome truth that they were to die in the wilderness.

‘Behold,’ they exclaimed, ‘we die, we perish, we all perish.’ They confessed that they had sinned in rebelling against their leaders, and that Korah and his company had suffered from the just judgment of God. In the rebellion of Korah is seen the working out, upon a narrower stage, of the same spirit that led to the rebellion of Satan in heaven. It was pride and ambition that prompted Lucifer to complain of the government of God, and to seek the overthrow of the order which had been established in heaven.

Since his fall it has been his object to infuse the same spirit of envy and discontent, the same ambition for position and honor, into the minds of men. He thus worked upon the minds of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, to arouse the desire for self-exaltation and excite envy, distrust, and rebellion. Satan caused them to reject God as their leader, by rejecting the men of God’s appointment.

Yet while in their murmuring against Moses and Aaron they blasphemed God, they were so deluded as to think themselves righteous, and to regard those who had faithfully reproved their sins as actuated by Satan.

Do not the same evils still exist that lay at the foundation of Korah’s ruin? Pride and ambition are widespread; and when these are cherished, they open the door to envy, and a striving for supremacy; the soul is alienated from God, and unconsciously drawn into the ranks of Satan.

Like Korah and his companions, many, even of the professed followers of Christ, are thinking, planning, and working so eagerly for self-exaltation that in order to gain the sympathy and support of the people they are ready to pervert the truth, falsifying and misrepresenting the Lord’s servants, and even charging them with the base and selfish motives that inspire their own hearts.

By persistently reiterating falsehood, and that against all evidence, they at last come to believe it to be truth. While endeavoring to destroy the confidence of the people in the men of God’s appointment, they really believe that they are engaged in a good work, verily doing God service. {PP 403.4}

The Hebrews were not willing to submit to the directions and restrictions of the Lord. They were restless under restraint, and unwilling to receive reproof.

This was the secret of their murmuring against Moses. Had they been left free to do as they pleased, there would have been fewer complaints against their leader. All through the history of the church God’s servants have had the same spirit to meet.

It is by sinful indulgence that men give Satan access to their minds, and they go from one stage of wickedness to another.

The rejection of light darkens the mind and hardens the heart, so that it is easier for them to take the next step in sin and to reject still clearer light, until at last their habits of wrongdoing become fixed.

Sin ceases to appear sinful to them. He who faithfully preaches God’s word, thereby condemning their sins, too often incurs their hatred.

Unwilling to endure the pain and sacrifice necessary to reform, they turn upon the Lord’s servant and denounce his reproofs as uncalled for and severe. Like Korah, they declare that the people are not at fault; it is the reprover that causes all the trouble.

And soothing their consciences with this deception, the jealous and disaffected combine to sow discord in the church and weaken the hands of those who would build it up.

Every advance made by those whom God has called to lead in His work has excited suspicion; every act has been misrepresented by the jealous and faultfinding. Thus it was in the time of Luther, of the Wesleys and other reformers. Thus it is today.

Korah would not have taken the course he did had he known that all the directions and reproofs communicated to Israel were from God. But he might have known this.

God had given overwhelming evidence that He was leading Israel. But Korah and his companions rejected light until they became so blinded that the most striking manifestations of His power were not sufficient to convince them; they attributed them all to human or satanic agency.

The same thing was done by the people, who the day after the destruction of Korah and his company came to Moses and Aaron, saying, “Ye have killed the people of the Lord.”

Notwithstanding they had had the most convincing evidence of God’s displeasure at their course, in the destruction of the men who had deceived them, they dared to attribute His judgments to Satan, declaring that through the power of the evil one, Moses and Aaron had caused the death of good and holy men.

It was this act that sealed their doom. They had committed the sin against the Holy Spirit, a sin by which man’s heart is effectually hardened against the influence of divine grace.

“Whosoever speaks a word against the Son of man,” said Christ, “it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaks against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him.” Matthew 12:32.

These words were spoken by our Saviour when the gracious works which He had performed through the power of God were attributed by the Jews to Beelzebub.

It is through the agency of the Holy Spirit that God communicates with man; and those who deliberately reject this agency as satanic, have cut off the channel of communication between the soul and Heaven.

God works by the manifestation of His Spirit to reprove and convict the sinner; and if the Spirit’s work is finally rejected, there is no more that God can do for the soul.

The last resource of divine mercy has been employed. The transgressor has cut himself off from God, and sin has no remedy to cure itself.

There is no reserved power by which God can work to convict and convert the sinner. “Let him alone” (Hosea 4:17) is the divine command.

Then “there remains no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.” Hebrews 10:26,27.
After the break we are going to look at the saddest chapter of the exodus. Moses made a mistake. How sad. He was so near the promised land. It was just a few steps further down the road.

This event prevented him to enter Canaan. May God help you and me to be faithful all the way. We cannot afford to miss out on the joys of the heavenly Canaan.

Updated on 21st Mar 2022

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