Saturday, May 10, 2008

Church Politics - Israel Style II

As I discussed in the first part of this blog entry, Korah and his allies were swallowed up by the earth, and the 250 men who allied with him were consumed by fire from God, and Israel fled from these sinners in fear.

This fear didn't last very long, as we see in Numbers 16:41
But on the next day all the congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and against Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the Lord.”
This really puzzles me - Korah's swallowed by the earth, 250 men were consumed by fire from God - and the people of Israel blame Moses and Aaron?

One can only shake one's head in wonder at this - but there's an important lesson to be learned from this. Israel had direct, visible evidence of the presence of their Lord and God through a cloud that led them by day, and a pillar of fire by night, manna to feed them every day - and still they did not believe it was God who was working in their midst and leading them. I can only surmise that - for some reason - they thought that Moses and Aaron had the power to command all these wonders which kept them alive while dealing with their opponents using earthquakes and fire from the sky.

This is an important lesson to remember in our present days when we wonder why more people do not believe - if Israel, whom God made His chosen people - repeatedly refused to believe, is it any wonder that people in our present day don't believe either?

Whatever the truth behind Israel's unbelief is, the events of the prior day repeat themselves again, but this time with much more dire results. After the congregation of Israel assembled against Moses and Aaron, a cloud covers the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord appears. And what does the Lord have to say this time?
“Get away from the midst of this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment."
which is exactly what He said about Israel the day before. And just like the day before, Moses and Aaron have to stand in for the people. Moses can tell that wrath is proceeding from the Lord and tells Aaron to take a censer and make atonement for the congregation. This time, however, instead of three families, and 250 men being lost to the wrath of the Lord, the death count was significantly higher:
And behold, the plague had already begun among the people. And he [Aaron] put on the incense and made atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped. Now those who died in the plague were 14,700, besides those who died in the affair of Korah.
Fourteen thousand, seven hundred people - dead. And why? Because they refused to have Moses and Aaron as their leaders? No, it's Israel's direct disobedience to God Himself. God named the people He wanted to lead Israel, He confirmed it with many mighty acts, and they still rebelled. This goes to show that the God with whom we have to do, while He is a loving and patient God, His patience only lasts so long, and when His patience runs out and He decides to act, justice is swift, certain, complete, and irresistible.

It makes you stop and think of what's in store for the people in our present day who mistreat and abuse the faithful ambassadors God has sent them to keep them safe and fed...

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