Standing in the Gap

Torah Portion: Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32)
Gospel Reading: Luke 23:1-48; Acts 2:21-41
Commentary by: Kelsey Bryant

“Why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” Korah and his followers demanded of Moses and Aaron. Discontent with their position and tired of submitting, the forty-year wilderness sentence was the last straw for certain Israelite leaders. They stirred up yet another rebellion – this one aimed at Moses and Aaron, God’s appointed leaders over Israel.

By scorning Moses and Aaron, they scorned God (Numbers 16:11, 30). Like almost every other human being, they weren’t happy with the way He was running the program. They hated that He had put someone in charge and expected everyone to obey him. It wasn’t enough that He had blessed them with responsibility and authority of their own – they wanted more. They wanted supremacy.

Judgment was in store for them:

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.’” (Numbers 16:20-21)

But – Moses and Aaron interceded:

“But they fell on their faces and said, ‘O God, God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, will You be angry with the entire congregation?” (v. 22)

The general congregation of Israel was saved by repudiating the rebellion (v. 24); by distancing themselves, they were in essence repenting. Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and the rest of the rebellious leaders were then judged…by being buried alive or burned in fire. Moses and Aaron had saved the congregation by interceding for them, which is why Yahweh had placed these two selfless men in their positions to begin with.

But the rebellion wasn’t over yet. After witnessing incredible divine displays and benefiting from Moses and Aaron’s intercession, the regular Israelites flared it up again overnight. Once more, they scorned God’s appointed leaders. Once more, judgment descended. But, once more, in a far more dramatic way, Moses and Aaron interceded:

“Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense on it; then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the Lord, the plague has begun!’ Then Aaron took it as Moses had spoken, and ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. He took his stand between the dead and the living, so that the plague was checked.” (v. 46-48)

Despite the antagonism Moses and Aaron had received countless times from the Israelites, they rushed to save these misguided people.

“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34, KJV)

How great is the Lord’s love for us! Though we have sinned against Him countless times, He provides salvation through Yeshua, the leader we humans are all too apt to reject. He forgives our scoffs and jeers and rescues us from the judgment we’ve brought on ourselves. Like Aaron’s rod that budded in our Torah portion (chapter 17), Yahweh uses the resurrection of Yeshua to prove that this rejected leader is indeed the Messiah: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).

Since Yeshua so readily forgives us, shouldn’t we follow His example (and Moses’ and Aaron’s) and rush to forgive those who badmouth, disparage, or antagonize us?