Tuesday, May 08, 2007

God is Holy, do not offend him

I was reading in Numbers 16 and I was, once again, stunned by what God does.

You know, there are times when I think Christians today take God too lightly. They seem to think, I can do whatever I want, do whatever I think and God won't really care. As long as I go to church on Sunday and act good for the most part, life will be just hunky dory for me.

People fail to consider that the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament. God doesn't change. He still burns with anger when people defy him willingly.

In Numbers 16 we learn about Korah and his cohorts Dathan and Abiram. He was a Levite. He wasn't happy with this position in life. He wanted to be priest. He was angry about it. He saw Moses as leader of the Israelites and he questioned Moses right to do so. So Moses told Korah and his cohorts just who it was he dealing with. God himself!
"Hear now, you sons of Levi: 9is it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself, to do service in the tabernacle of the LORD and to stand before the congregation to minister to them, 10and that he has brought you near him, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you? And would you seek the priesthood also? 11Therefore it is against the LORD that you and all your company have gathered together. What is Aaron that you grumble against him?"

It was God who made these decisions. It was God who chose the sons of Levi to be servers in the temple. It wasn't the decision of Aaron or Moses. Moses led the people by GOD's choosing.

So Moses let God once again do the choosing. The people presented themselves before God.
20And the LORD spoke to Moses and to Aaron, saying, 21"Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment."
God wanted them all dead! He was not pleased. But Moses interceded.
22And they fell on their faces and said, "O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and will you be angry with all the congregation?" 23And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 24"Say to the congregation, Get away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram."

The people separated themselves from Korah, Dathan and Abiram.

27So they got away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones. 28And Moses said, "Hereby you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord. 29If these men die as all men die, or if they are visited by the fate of all mankind, then the LORD has not sent me. 30But if the LORD creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the LORD."

And can you imagine it? God did it!

31And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. 32And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods.
God took them away. This source of rebellion and anger among the Israelites was just gone! Everyone else was greatly afeared (not that I blame them .... I'd have done the same)
34And all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, "Lest the earth swallow us up!"
Not only that, God showed judgement against the men themselves who has stood with them. Just the men, not all their families.
35And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men offering the incense.

God used this experience to remind the people that he was holy. And that which is offered to the Lord is holy. And that only those whom the Lord chooses may burn incense before him.

39So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers, which those who were burned had offered, and they were hammered out as a covering for the altar, 40to be a reminder to the people of Israel, so that no outsider, who is not of the descendants of Aaron, should draw near to burn incense before the LORD, lest he become like Korah and his company--as the LORD said to him through Moses.

How quickly though the people forget. THE VERY NEXT DAY the people were grumbling against Moses again! And God was angry. God acted swiftly telling Moses and Aaron to get away from them. Moses again interceded for the people, but by the time he acted, many people had died.

And they fell on their faces. 46And Moses said to Aaron, "Take your censer, and put fire on it from off the altar and lay incense on it and carry it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone out from the LORD; the plague has begun." 47So Aaron took it as Moses said and ran into the midst of the assembly. And behold, the plague had already begun among the people. And he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. 48And he stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped. 49Now those who died in the plague were 14,700, besides those who died in the affair of Korah. 50And Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the tent of meeting, when the plague was stopped.

The Lord acts! He sometimes, as in this case, acts swiftly. Sometimes he takes his time for he is slow to anger and abounding in mercy. But our God is a holy God. We must needs remember this. Do not offend his holiness.

Read his word. Follow it. Don't change it to suit your thoughts and ideas. Remember that the God we serve is GOD and none else. God is God and he is holy.

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