When I mention Korah everyone forgets the fire and the plates. You obviously know Korah—guy who led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. They had had enough with this whole Promised Land business, enough of the walking, enough with God’s special priesthood. Korah and some family, with no less than 250 famous men, led the charge rejecting the Apostle and the High Priest of their confession.
As a holy nation they figured that they could be priests with the righteous status that Aaron had.
We all remember the story: the ground swallowed Korah and his ilk up but we forget the Fire.
The 250 men had taken up censers, with their own fire and incense and gathered at the door of the tabernacle against Moses and Aaron. This rebellion was not only against God’s Apostle and High Priest but it was man in his self-righteousness raising his fist to God’s face.
Moses tells the people (yes including Korah’s family) to step back from the tents of the wicked crowds and tells the congregation that if these folk die like regular folk then no big deal—but if its spectacular then you know I didn’t have anything to do with it. If the Lord for instance, makes the ground eat them up then you’ll know.
At that moment the ground opened up and swallowed men alive—but that wasn’t the only thing that happened. Numbers 16:35 says that fire came from the Lord.
A beam of fire coming from the tabernacle and splitting and consuming 250 men with censers of incense.
But then, as if that isn’t enough of a reminder, God tells Eleazer to take the censers, hammer them out and make them plates to cover the altar. Plates and symbols of rebellion hammered out and hammered onto the altar so that anytime a person would come offer their sacrifice they would see those plates—nailed to the altar.
My thoughts flew through time to the cross where I see the Apostle and High Priest of my confession being nailed to a tree. But what put Him on that tree? Yes the Romans and the Jews. Yes God ultimately purposed to do this.
But it was my part in humanity’s rebellion that put Him on that tree. As I take the bread and the cup I can see the plates of my rebellion, ugly things, ruinous things, on Him. As I take the bread and the cup I am reminded that my God, an all consuming fire, purposed to bruise Him and lay our iniquities on Him. We could have easily been swallowed by the pit or consumed by His wrath but in His love, He was patient and provided a solution for our good and ultimately reflecting His loving glory.
It’s no wonder that the Sons of Korah would go off and write something like Psalm 117, part of the Jewish Hallel.
“Praise the Lord all you people and all you nations; the merciful loyal faithful kindness of the Lord is great towards us and the truth of the Lord endures forever!”