Weekly Torah Section: Korach Numbers 16:1-18:32, HafTorah: I Samuel 11:14-12:22
Tonight I want us to mainly look at the Torah portion, but I do have a few things to say about the Haftorah. In I Samuel we see the greatest of Israel’s judges turning over the nation to their first king – King Saul. What connection do you see between Samuel and the Torah section in Numbers. There are at least two things. Both contain a miraculous sign. In Numbers the earth opens and swallows up 250 people. In Samuel a fierce thunderstorm occurs. Why is the thunderstorm a miraculous sign? When does this thunderstorm occur – during the wheat harvest. So what time of year was that? Near the holiday of Shavuot, which means it was the time of year when rain does not fall in Israel. The other connection was both Moses and Samuel said they had taken nothing from the people. (Numbers 16:15 and I Samuel 12:3)
Can we draw any parallels between Saul and Yeshua? Saul was the first king and Yeshua will be the last king of Israel. Many people rejected Saul when he was first presented just as many rejected Yeshua. After Saul’s victory over Nahash he was accepted by everyone as the L-rd’s anointed. Nahash is a Hebrew word meaning snake or serpent. In the New Testament we read in Revelations 19-20 about the King Messiah’s final victory over the serpent. Each of Israel’s kings was to be an earthly representation of the Heavenly King and here we can see that in Israel’s first king.
Now to the Torah. In Numbers 16:1 it says Korah took men – right? No, actually the object of took is left out. The word “men” only appears in the English, not in the Hebrew text. So, what did Korah take? For sure he took it upon himself to rebel against G-d and with him many of the leaders of Israel followed. Could we say that rebellion against G-d is pretty much at the root of all sin? G-d says one thing but we don’t like His plan. It might not fit what we want or it seems like we may have a better idea. Korah uses a convincing argument. Scripture says Israel is a holy nation. But his motivation was not so holy. He coveted Aaron’s job. As we face each day and come to those places where we look at a decision to be made, do we look at G-d’s plan or G-d’s will? Do we just jump right into our own plan? After all isn’t that what’s important – what we want? Usually like here, G-d leaves no doubt when we do not follow His plan. Korah and his followers are swallowed up. In verse 16:34 it says that all Israel fled at their voice as they went down into the earth. Pretty scary stuff! In fact we would expect Israel to be duly warned by such a miracle. You would think they would walk in obedience for many years after this incident. Is that what happened? How long did the awe of the miracle last? It lasted one day! We live by faith not by miracles. It is wonderful when G-d intervenes in our lives by some miraculous work but our faith must be in G-d and not in those things. They fade and our faith is what remains.
What happened to the pans that Korah and the others brought? Remember they were still holy. They were used to cover the altar of sacrifice. Each time a person came to bring his offerings he was reminded of the cost of sin. I would hope this reminds us as well. Our G-d is a holy and perfect G-d and we are His people – holy as well. The price of rebellion is high. May we always be faithful.