Numbers 16, Psalms 52–54, Isaiah 6, Hebrews 13

DateVersionReading Plan
@May 8, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Numbers 16

Numbers 16:1–2 (ESV) 16 Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men. 2 And they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, 250 chiefs of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men.

Korah and a band of other chiefs among the congregation rose up in rebellion against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Korah was the eldest son of Izhar, the second son of Kohath (Ex. 6:18-21), a cousin of Aaron who was a Levite but not a priest. Dathan, Abiram and On were from the tribe of Reuben, the firstborn of Jacob, and joined the insurrection out of resentment of Moses’ leadership as well. Moses tried to work with them that their actions were imprudent (Num. 16:8–11) but they did not listen (Num. 16:12–14). The consequence of their uprising resulted in their being swallowed up by the earth and going down alive into Sheol (Num. 16:31–33). It is a grim example of the kind of judgment that awaits the haughty and hardened.

Psalms 52–54

Psalm 52:6–7 (ESV) 6 The righteous shall see and fear, and shall laugh at him, saying, 7 “See the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches and sought refuge in his own destruction!”

These verses seemed worthy of further exploration since it appears as if the righteous are being arrogant in laughing at the wicked. It would seem at first that their laughter is inappropriate but, as the Faithlife Study Bible makes clear, “Rather than gloat over the enemy, which displeases God, they recognize God’s righteous judgment (compare Prov. 24:17–18). God’s judgment validates the trust of the righteous in God.” The type of laughter seen here by the righteous is not the malicious mocking that is forbidden, but “is part of a request for divine retribution (Deut. 32:35).” (CSB Study Notes)

Isaiah 6

Isaiah 6:5 (ESV) 5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Isaiah’s response to seeing the Lord sitting upon a throne is utter woe and realization of unworthiness. To be as naked in the presence of God is to be shown how radically corrupt we are by comparison. As Matthew Henry states, “All vain-glory, ambition, ignorance, and pride, would be done away by one view of Christ in his glory.” Without Christ and His mediatorial work, our secured meeting with God would be our righteous judgment and a casting into darkness for eternal undoing. Praise be to God who, in His abounding grace, has granted us clemency through the sacrifice of His Son.

Hebrews 13

Hebrews 13:7, 17 (ESV) 7 Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. … 17 Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

Much of this chapter is dedicated to how we are to view and treat leaders of the church. We are to observe their way of life, imitate their faith, be not led away by false teaching and submit to our faithful leaders because they are keeping watch over our souls as those who will give an account. Even more, leaders should perform their duties with joy and not with groaning in order that it yield the full benefit of their teaching. This final imperative is directed at the leaders themselves, but also should be an encouragement for the congregation to respect the authority appointed by God and make appropriate efforts to promote their joyful exposition of Scripture.

Carson on Numbers 16

Of course, not every leader in the Christian church is to be treated with equal deference: some are self-promoted upstarts that the church is to get rid of (e.g., 2 Cor. 10–13). Nor are all who protest cursed with the judgment that fell on Korah and his friends: some, like Luther and Calvin, like Whitefield and Wesley, and like Paul and Amos before them, are genuine reformers. But in an anti-authoritarian age like ours, one should always check to see if the would-be reformers are shaped by passionate devotion to the words of God, or simply manipulate those words for their own selfish ends.

Carson makes an important distinction between proper and improper reformation. Korah and his company of rebels represented a revolt of an unrighteous sort, but there are some who genuinely seek the restoration of truth and faithfulness to God. To discern between the honorable and dishonorable requires our own earnest pursuit of God and knowing His Word. If we grow complacent in this endeavor, we will remain as children, “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Eph. 4:14b)