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(from Good Word Online):

A Power Struggle (Numbers 16-17)

TEXT: Numbers 16:1-3

1 Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites-Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth-became insolent 2 and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. 3 They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?”

  • Korah and his followers wanted more people to be dedicated as priests. Was there a need for a greater number of priests in Israel?
  • By using the words “the whole community” did the leader of the opposition try to speak for all the people?
  • What is implied in the words “you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly” (cf. 18:7)?

TEXT: Numbers 16:46-48

46 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with fire from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the LORD; the plague has started.” 47 So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. 48 He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped.

  • The people have been eyewitnesses of the punishment on Korah and his followers. Why do they then begin to grumble against Moses and Aaron?
  • Is Moses described here as more compassionate than God?
  • Can you see any figurative meaning in Aaron’s ministry “between the living and the dead”?

Lesson: Love of power can lead to corruption.