Chosen by God
"I can imagine," I replied excitedly, "Did he tell you what it looks like?" I had never been behind the front veil, and I was eager to know what it was like. Abishua, my best friend (and second or third cousin) had never been back there either, but his dad was Phineas, the priest, and he got to go behind the veil of the Tabernacle on a regular basis. I was trying to get Abishua to tell me everything he had heard from his dad about what it was like to be in the Tabernacle, behind the front veil.
"Well," answered Abishua, "You know the golden lampstand?" I nodded as he continued, "He says the seven lamps on it are kept burning brightly, and their light makes all the gold on the inside of the Tabernacle sparkle! The polished golden walls make it look like a hundred lamps are in there, while the table and incense altar glimmer and shine like they have a light of their own."
"That must be spectacular," I said, trying to imagine what it would be like to be in a room where everything was covered with gold. "Not only would it be amazing to see but imagine what it would be like to actually be inside the Tabernacle, right next to the living God of Israel! What do you suppose it is like to be on the inside, close to God?" I asked.
Abishua knew what I meant. "Dad says it is the scariest and the most thrilling place to be. He says he can hardly believe that on the other side of the inner veil is the presence of our holy God."
I wanted to know more and was about to ask if his dad ever talked to God while he was in there, but just then Abishua's mother called to him to come home. "Do you think your dad would take me in there for a quick peek?" I asked hopefully, even though I knew the answer.
"No," said Abishua, "You aren't of the family of Aaron."
"I know, I know. Why do you suppose it is like that? Why can't I go into God's Tabernacle and be in His presence?" I asked, not really grumbling, but wishing with all my heart that I could go in there. "Why can't I buy the best ram ever from the marketplace, and go through the cleansing ritual and become a priest like your dad? I'd love to be able to minister in the presence of God."
Abishua looked thoughtfully at me. "Hmm," he said, "I don't know. I guess never asked dad that." Just then, his mom called again, so we had to cut our conversation short, but I didn't stop thinking about it.
He looked at me, smiling, and said, "Sure. What's on your mind?"
I could see he was in a good mood, so I went ahead and asked my question, "Dad, is the family of Aaron more special or holy than our family?"
He looked at me thoughtfully for a minute, then answered, "No, I don't think so, son. They are of the tribe of Levi, just as we are. And even if we were not of the tribe of Levi, the whole nation was made holy before God when we were sprinkled with the blood at the foot of Mt. Sinai. I think if you were to ask one of the priests, they would not say they are more holy than we are."
I rocked on my stool, wondering if I should ask my next question. Then dad said, "Why do you ask?"
Steadying my stool, I gathered my courage and asked, "Why do they get to enter the Tabernacle and our family does not?"
Dad turned and looked at me, his face unreadable. I began to wonder if I shouldn't have asked the question. But after a bit, he said, "That's a good question, son. I suppose it is that way because Moses commanded it to be so."
As I thought about it, hope began to fill me. Moses was an old man. Maybe the next leader would allow our family to minister inside the tabernacle. So I asked, "Do you think that things will change after Moses dies?"
Dad responded, "Why should it be after he dies?" I didn't understand what he was saying at the time, but I could tell that was all he was going to say, so I didn't ask any more questions. It wasn't until later that I found out what he meant, and I also found out that he was horribly incorrect: things were not the way they were because Moses had commanded it to be so.
Wilderness Daily News
Several leading men of the tribes of Israel have called on Moses and Aaron to resign as the Heads of State over Israel.
Korah Bar-Izhar, a Levite noble, along with Dathan and Abiram Bar-Eliab, and On Bar-Peleth, nobles from the tribe of Rueben, have called for an administrative change. These men, along with 250 nobles representing the whole of the congregation of Israel, have gone to Moses and Aaron demanding that they submit to the will of the people by resigning from their self-appointed positions and allowing the nation to select new leadership.
Late yesterday morning, Korah and the 250 nobles came to Moses and Aaron to lodge a formal complaint regarding Moses and Aaron's assumed authority over the nation. They contended that Moses and Aaron do not have any inherent right to hold the position of sole representatives for the nation before God. Arguing that God has made the whole nation holy, they asserted that any representative chosen by the nation would be fit to go before God. While acknowledging that the nation had at one time selected Moses and Aaron as official representatives, the nobles accused the two leaders of abusing the nation's trust and elevating themselves above the people. To curb the alleged abuse of the position, Korah and the nobles are now demanding that Moses and Aaron resign. “You take too much upon yourselves," said Korah to Moses, "For all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”
Initially, Moses' response to the allegations was one of apparent shock, causing him to fall on his face before Korah and the nobles. However, he was soon able to recover and negotiate with Korah and the nobles. It appears that Moses will not mount a resistance to the demands of the people. Although he agreed to begin negotiations on the morrow, he insisted that such negotiations should take place before the Tabernacle of Meeting. Korah agreed, and the talks are scheduled to be held later today before the Lord at the Tabernacle.
Moses, however, insisted it was not the people's right to choose their representation. “Tomorrow morning the Lord will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him." said Moses to Korah, "That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him." One of Moses' staff, who requested his name withheld, stated that Moses' position is that the LORD reserves the right to select the representation of Israel and only persons chosen by the LORD would be allowed to approach Him.
Korah and the 250 nobles have agreed to meet Moses in front of the Tabernacle later today. Each man will carry a holy censor and present themselves before the LORD to see if there is any preference on the part of the LORD as to who should be the new representative. "It shall be," said Moses, "that the man whom the Lord chooses is the holy one."
When asked who would be fit to approach God as representative of the nation, a spokesman from Korah's office pointed out that at Mt. Sinai God said He would make the nation a holy people. It is Korah's position that the sanctification has been accomplished through the sacrifices and rituals, and thus any member of the nation is fit to approach God. Korah believes that Levites would be best suited for the task since they are trained in how to perform all the rituals of the Tabernacle. However, should he be selected as the nation's representative, he intends to provide the necessary training to any interested Israelite so that any qualified person could have the opportunity to become the representative.
An official response was issued by Moses to Korah only minutes before press time and is published below in its entirety.
“Hear now, you sons of Levi: Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also? Therefore, you and all your company are gathered together against the Lord. And what is Aaron that you complain against him?”
Moses and Aaron had functioned as the nation's representatives before God since the days when Israel was at the foot of Mt. Sinai. In those days, when the glory of God appeared before the people, the nation recognized that they were unfit to approach God and asked Moses to speak to God on their behalf. Shortly after, Moses appointed Aaron, his brother, as high priest, and the two have acted as the nation's representatives to God ever since. However, in recent times the two men have incurred increasing public disapproval due to unpopular commands they have imposed upon the people. Polls have indicated the recent decision to turn away from the border of the promised land and return to the wilderness was highly unpopular. Up to 75% of those polled indicated a strong displeasure with the direction the nation is headed and were favorable to a change of representation.
Dathan, Abiram, and On were not present at the confrontation but remained at their homes in a statement of disregard to the authority of Moses and Aaron.
Over 250 nobles of Israel have died in an afternoon of terror.
In accordance with the agreement from the previous day, Korah Bar-Izhar and 250 nobles of the children of Israel met Moses and Aaron in front of the Tabernacle of Meeting to select the new leadership. A large crowd also gathered to witness the historic occasion.
The nobles each prepared holy censors with incense and stood at attention before the Lord. Suddenly, an exceedingly bright light burst from the Tabernacle, evidently being the glory of the Lord. Aaron and Moses turned toward the glory and appeared to be speaking with the glory when they suddenly fell on their faces. Remaining prostrate for a brief minute, they suddenly arose and ran away from the Tabernacle crying out, "Clear yourselves away from their tents!" The elders of Israel followed the two leaders along with some members of the press.
The 250 nobles remained with their censors before the Tabernacle, apparently assuming that Moses and Aaron had conceded the representation and leadership to Korah and the nobles.
However, Moses and Aaron went directly to the tents of Dathan and Abiram and warned the people to evacuate the vicinity of the tents. “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men!" cried Moses to the bystanders, "Touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins.” Not daring to offend Moses, the people backed away while Dathan and Abiram defiantly remained with their families at their doorways, warning Moses not to start anything. After the people had moved away from the tents, Moses uttered these chilling words:
“By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will. If these men die naturally like all men, or if they are visited by the common fate of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected the Lord.”
Immediately, massive sinkholes opened beneath the tents of Dathan, Abiram, and Korah. The tents, along with the men, their families, and all their possessions fell into the gaping holes. Pandemonium broke out as people fled from the sinkholes, but the holes collapsed as quickly as they had formed. Rescue crews have been frantically working all afternoon, but at press time there was no success at the recovery of either the men or their possessions.
At the same time as the appearance of the sinkholes, a fire erupted from the Tabernacle and consumed the 250 nobles at the Tabernacle with their censors. All 250 nobles are confirmed dead.
For the time being, Moses and Aaron continue to act as the leaders of Israel.
A plague of death killed thousands of protesters and was heroically stopped by Aaron.
Late yesterday morning, a large crowd of protesters, estimated to be in the tens of thousands, came against Moses and Aaron accusing them of bringing death upon the nobles of the people of God. Thousands chanted, "You have killed the people of the Lord." Choosing not to confront the mob, Aaron and Moses turned to go to the Tabernacle of Meeting, but the angry mob followed them, refusing to depart.
At the Tabernacle, the cloud suddenly appeared with the glory of God. Aaron and Moses instantly fell on their faces before God. Suddenly, Aaron jumped up and hurried inside the Tabernacle courtyard. While he was inside, people within the angry crowd began to die, evidently struck by a plague of death from God. The plague proceeded to spread rapidly, and thousands were dying. Some died even as they tried to flee from the expanding area of the plague.
The plague was brought to a stop when Aaron ran out from the courtyard with a burning censor in his hand, having lit it with fire from the altar. Bravely, he ran to where the plague was spreading and positioned himself between the dead and the living. Incredibly, the plague stopped and did not go past him.
At last count, the number of people who died in the plague was 14,700 and included members of the press, one of which was the former editor of this paper. The number would have surely have increased if Aaron had not risked his life at the edge of the plague.
God has made known His will: Aaron, and thereby the tribe of Levi, have been unquestionably chosen as ministers in the service of God and the representatives of the nation.
After the devastating results of Korah's challenge against Moses and Aaron, the Lord instructed Moses to collect a staff from each of the 12 heads of the tribes of Israel. Each staff was given a clear mark of identification and placed before the Lord in the Tabernacle overnight. The Lord said that blossoms would appear on the rod of the man whom He has chosen to be the representative for the nation. The blossoms and almonds which appeared on Aaron's staff this morning make clear the choice of the Lord: Aaron and his descendants have been chosen by the Lord to be holy and without blame before Him, serving the nation as priests. If any other person attempts to approach the Lord, they will not only be rejected; they will die.
Along with Aaron, the entire tribe of Levi has been chosen from among the nation to perform the service of the Lord, although they will not be coming before the Lord in the same manner as Aaron and his descendants. They will retain this position throughout their generations, for God has chosen them.
The sad story of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram is recorded in Numbers 16-18. In reading the account in scripture, one might get the impression that Korah’s family perished along with him, but Numbers 26:11 clarified that Korah’s children did not perish with him. As you may have guessed, the above chapter was written from the perspective of a son of Korah with the purpose of illustrating the concept of God’s deliberate choice. This concept will be explored in the following article.