NUMBERS 17:12-13: “The Israelites said to Moses, “Now we’re going to die! We’re lost! We’re all lost! Anyone who comes near the LORD’s tent will die! Are we all going to die?” (GW)
OBSERVATION: Is God really for us? This is no doubt this question that was looming in the hearts of the Israelites as they questioned Moses asking – “Are we all going to die”? What triggered such an unusual response and question?
In Numbers 16, Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and On challenged the authority of Moses and Aaron. All were from the tribe of Levi, and they all had been chosen to attend to the Tabernacle of Meeting. However, they were not content with this assignment. They wanted to be priests like Aaron and his sons. Together they openly opposed God’s rule through Moses and God’s priestly rule through Aaron. Moses met their challenge and told them to bring censers of fire and incense before the Tabernacle of the Lord, along with Aaron, and God would choose whom He had anointed to be priest.
The next day Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and On, along with 250 followers brought their censers of fire and incense before the Lord. God’s anger and judgment was executed upon their rebellion as fire consumed all who had brought their censers before the Tabernacle – except for Aaron and his sons. And in the Israelite camp, the ground around the tents of Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and On opened up and their entires families were destroyed as they fell into the opening, and the ground closed in again over them. No wonder the Israelites were shaken. Now we can understand why they cried out to Moses – “Are we all going to die?”
This story may upset those who only like to talk about the love of God, and pass over the righteous judgment of God. Some may object – “I thought God was a God of love and mercy!” “This does not look very loving to me!” Please remember that Israel’s rebellion had already kept them from entering into the Promised Land, causing them to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Further rebellion was threatening their very existence. If God did not judge this rebellion and uphold the anointed calling and leadership of Moses and Aaron, all would be lost. In reality, if the Lord did nothing, this would be the absence of true love.
The Book of Hebrews tells us that God’s chastens those that He loves. I am very thankful that in the age of Grace we no longer see fire fall down from heaven and the ground opening up to judge our sin. Jesus bore God’s full wrath and judgment of sin for us on the Cross. When we come to Jesus Christ in faith, we are delivered from the wrath of God. We stand fully forgiven and complete in him. Yet, we are still not perfect, and we still are in need of the Father’s correction.
So, when His correction comes, it is not because God is not for us – IT IS BECAUSE HE IS FOR US, AND LOVES US SO MUCH THAT HE WILL NOT ALLOW US TO CONTINUE IN THE STATE WE ARE IN!
- “You struggle against sin, but your struggles haven’t killed you. You have forgotten the encouraging words that God speaks to you as his children: “My child, pay attention when the Lord disciplines you. Don’t give up when he corrects you. The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child.” Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family. On earth we have fathers who disciplined us, and we respect them. Shouldn’t we place ourselves under the authority of God, the father of spirits, so that we will live? For a short time our fathers disciplined us as they thought best. Yet, God disciplines us for our own good so that we can become holy like him. We don’t enjoy being disciplined. It always seems to cause more pain than joy. But later on, those who learn from that discipline have peace that comes from doing what is right.”. (Hebrews 12:4-11 GW)
So, what do we do if we find ourselves in a place of correction, if we are experiencing the Lord’s pruning in our lives? We need to recognize that this is the best expression of His love for us. If we will allow the Holy Spirit to do His work in us, we will become more like Jesus. This is the Holy Spirit’s work, degree by degree, step by step, throughout our life! So the writer of Hebrews proclaims,
- “Strengthen your tired arms and weak knees. Keep walking along straight paths so that your injured leg won’t get worse. Instead, let it heal.” (Hebrews 12:12-13 GW)
God is for us! He is always working for our good! He is always leading us toward His paths of righteousness! We never need to fear surrendering in obedience to Him, for His love will always leads us into life!
In Jesus Name!