We, as a people from the beginning of time, seem to feel that what we presume to be right will be received by God as worthy as the intention was honorable. Adam and Eve had access to the Garden of Eden and all that was in it except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They took for granted the law God had set before them. And they paid the price of their disobedience. The children of Israel saw the miraculous powers of God to free them from captivity, yet somehow presumed their allegiance to Him was only when needed. At every time of trouble, God delivered for the Israelites, yet their memories were short and they complained to Moses when tested by even the slightest hardship. They presumed that it would be a short walk out of Egypt into the promised land. This thinking led to a most circuitous journey, eventually into a judgement of never entering the promised land.
In Numbers 16, we see Korah, a Levite, questioning the authority of Moses, and thereby questioning the authority of God. Korah had just recently witnessed the judgement of the Lord for Israel rebelling by crying and saying they had remained in Egypt, rather than face giants in the promised land and die there. They heard the judgement that “All the earth will be filled with God’s glory” (Numbers 14:21), but those of unbelief will not see it nor enter into the promised land. Korah saw the 10 spies, who went with Joshua and Caleb to spy out the land, die by plague for their unbelief and causing others to fear. He saw what happened to the Israelites who “presumed” they could win over the Lord and cause Him to change His mind by going up to fight the Canaanites and Amalekites and somehow erase their rebellion and unbelief. The Israelites who went to fight were driven back and were defeated, as the Lord was not with them. Their “sin of presumption” proved to be their undoing. Yet Korah and those who followed him still stood against Moses and Aaron. Korah knew the penalty for intentional sins. He and his followers, and all their families, and all their goods, were swallowed up by the earth opened by the Lord. Korah, and the Levites who followed him, had their censers (bronze vessels to carry incense) which were saved and made into hammered plates to be used as a covering for the altar. The censers were holy. They represent the office of the Levite. Korah and the Levites, who presumed an authority that was not theirs, were out of order. These censers were now before the eyes of all Israel, yet the very next day the congregation gathered against Moses and Aaron for killing Korah and his followers. The Lord told Moses to step away, as He would consume them. Moses told Aaron to take a censer and put fire from the altar and incense in it and take it before the congregation and make atonement for them, for “wrath has gone out from the Lord and the plague has begun.” (Numbers 16:46) Moses and Aaron ran into the midst of the assembly of people that the plague was touching and stood in the midst of them praying for them. They stood between the dead and the living, and the plague stopped. In addition to those of Korah and his followers who the earth swallowed up, 14,700 died from the plague.
These are tough verses and stories to comprehend at times. Can God’s wrath be so severe as to cause one to step back in horror? Is this the same God who David refers to in Psalm 27 saying, “When You said Seek My face, My heart said to You, Your face, Lord, I will seek.” Or is this the God who said in Exodus 33 that no man shall see My face and live. No animal or person could touch God’s holy mountain in Exodus, yet Joshua always remained and you just felt he leaned against it in his quest to be close to God. All Israel was to have this close relationship with the Lord, yet they feared even the glory that shone on Moses’ face. I have been meditating on these chapters in Numbers for a while now. How many realize we must be standing between those who are in sins of presumption and the judgement of the Lord? I cannot stress how serious this is and how necessary it is for intercessors to be on their face before the Lord. How many, if they saw His face, would be making images of what they saw and worshipping them? It would be contrary to His law. We are at a place where we must embrace both the Lord’s love and grace and His judgements. Romans 11:33 says, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out.” The Passion translation says of this verse, “Who could ever explain the wonder of His decisions or search out the mysterious way He carries out His plans?” I have stated before that I pray daily that the Lord cover this land with His truth and His mercy. We, in our obstinate and presumptuous ways, hinder His truth and mercy from covering our land. We follow a God of our own making. The words of Christ are just that….words. The Sermon on the Mount is just a nice story rather than words to live by. We cannot remain this way and not expect to see things coming undone. Too many leaders teach a gospel that will lead you onto a path of destruction. Yet people wonder why it seems the Lord has covered Himself with a cloud that our prayers will not pass through. (Lamentations 3:44) Seek Him for yourself and pray without ceasing. We should daily pray, “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.” (Psalm 86:11) Do not walk in presumption. Walk in the fear of the Lord. His mercies are new each morning. He is good and a stronghold to them that trust in Him. Blessings.