A Prayer God Will Answer
By James Jacob Prasch
Good evening dear friends; greetings in the wonderful name of Jesus. Let's go to Him in prayer:
Heavenly Father we thank You for your goodness, for Your blessings, Your kindness, Your mercies. We thank You for the blood of Your Son that cleanses from all sin. As we now come to fellowship together in Your Word, we as that by Your Spirit You would speak to us, encouraging us and we ask, Lord God, above all that Your Word would not simply increase our knowledge with the aim of increasing our knowledge, but would increase our knowledge with the aim of making us more like Your Son, more effective in serving Him and helping others in His name, the Name in which we pray, Jesus, Amen.
A couple of people the other night took note of something I pointed out when we spoke from Ephesians 6; a bit about how the belt of truth had to be put on before the breastplate of righteousness. At no point, as I pointed out the other night but perhaps it is good to reiterate it, was I suggesting that in any way truth is more important than righteousness; they are both co-equally important. What I was saying is, if you don't have truth you won't know what righteousness is. Wrong doctrine will inevitably lead to wrong conduct, even to insanity. We are told to have the mind of Christ. I just thought I would bring a couple of examples:
The Mormons say that Jesus Christ is the half-brother of Satan and that there is a way of salvation through baptism on behalf of the dead by taking out of context a verse in Corinthians in which Saint Paul was referring to a pagan Greek practice of baptism. Not only did Jews have baptism, pagans had baptism. Christians had baptism. Everybody had baptism. They just gave different meanings to it. John's baptism was Jewish baptism was called mikvah bris and it was a baptism of repentance. The one of Jesus was co-death, co-resurrection. But the Greeks had ideas of ablation rituals that they could wash away sin by a ritual. Now of course the Roman Catholic idea of baptism comes more from the pagan one than it does from the Biblical one. The blood of Jesus washes away the sin actually; our baptism is co-death and co-resurrection; that is what takes away the sin.
The idea of salvation or hope for the dead after death--the Catholics are not the only ones who have it; the Mormons even take it further. I've got some things here: This is the "Celestial Marriage" record of Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun. Here is the file number provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And here is the "Celestial Baptism" of Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun. The Mormons claim to have saved the soul of Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun after they committed suicide and had themselves cremated. Now to us this is madness. These people believe this; they actually believe that they saved the soul of Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun. They married them for eternity in some celestial kingdom of some far-off planet. By getting baptized on behalf of them they managed to save their souls after all they did. Now don't get me wrong. I believe, I honestly believe that even if Hitler repented and it is not easy for me to say this having Jewish family, and my wife's family were killed in the Holocaust, but I do believe that if Hitler really repented he could have been saved by the blood of Jesus. But of course, as far as we know, as far as anybody could know, he never did repent. He died the way he lived. I read a copy of his will translated into English. He made a will, he made a political and a personal will and it was quite clear right up to the moment of his death he was a complete Godless heathen and evil man. He did not come to faith in Jesus, but I do believe the blood of Jesus could have saved even Hitler, but only the blood of Jesus could have saved Hitler, not some people up in Salt Lake City getting baptized in his name after he was dead but that is what they believe. The documents are here if you want to see it, I've got photo copies of official Mormon documents. Wrong doctrine will lead to wrong conduct.
Here is something from the Herald Sun: The Roman Catholic Church leaders say they can't swear by the truth of some portions of the Bible. UK Catholic Church leaders issued a decree, a teaching document called "The Gift of Scripture" advising those who study the Bible not to expect total accuracy. The Roman Catholic Bishops of England, Wales and Scotland wrote the booklet to celebrate 40 years of Dea Verbum, the statement about the Bible from the Vatican counsel. Before this Catholics were essentially discouraged from reading it. In fact, the Roman Catholic Church for some time had the Bible in the index of banned books. You would be burned alive if you owned one. We should not expect to find in Scripture scientific accuracy or complete historical precision. The book says that the early chapters of Genesis contained historical traces but should not be taken literally, etc., etc. and they warned about the dangers of fundamentalism. The 60 page document was presented to Pope Benedict last month.
What happens when you don't take the Bible as God's Word? Well, you don't have to but then don't claim to be a Christian, but they do. I was in Ireland, the Republic of Ireland three weeks ago, a very Catholic country. This is the Irish Independent Newspaper headline: The Vatican was in Sex Abuse Cover up. The bishops, cardinals, they proved on investigation by the Irish government went right up to the Vatican. Page after page, this is the Vatican. One priest tried to stand up and they wouldn't make him a bishop because he suspended priests who he knew were pedophiles and they cracked down on him. The church keeps mum over this other bishop, Bishop of Vernes, Brendon Kamisky. Here is another one, Cardinal Law from Boston. He said the funeral mass for the Pope after he had to leave the country. Guess why. Here is a bishop exposed on the BBC. This Bishop ended up as a hostage to fortune and the fall guy of secret forces. Another headline was "Vatican Sex Abuse Cover Up." They were going to policemen in the Irish National Police called the Gardai who were members of an organization called the Knights of Columbus and the church was approaching the police through the Knights of Columbus and they were getting files of police investigations to disappear to keep these priests out of jail. But they allowed these priests to continue to molest the kids rather than see the church dishonored and it went right up to the Vatican. They were protecting pedophiles at the expense of not protecting little children. But the bishops in Derry and the bishops in Donegal, they caught one bishop after another and it went right up to the top and people will still go to mass. Now the Bible says outlawing marriage is a doctrine of demons. You outlaw what is natural and people will do something unnatural. I do not wish--we have kids here, I do not wish to tell you what they were doing but if you want to know privately I will show you what they were doing--you would not believe what they were doing. It is unbelievable. Little Catholics girls get dressed up like brides for their first communion so there was one priest who took them all on a honeymoon. They knew it! This is Roman Catholicism, let no one tell you different. This is the Roman Catholic Church. It is not that arrogant liar, Mother Angelica on television. It is not the lies of Scott Hahn, who I will debate publically, or Carl Keating, who I will debate publically … tell them I said so. This is Catholicism.
Wrong doctrine will inevitably bring wrong conduct. It will even bring insanity. What could be more insane than trying to save Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun after they were dead and to issue a certificate of baptism saying they were eternally saved, and then to issue a celestial wedding certificate saying they will be together forever on some planet that they can populate forever? Can you imagine a whole planet inhabited with Hitlers running around? It is insanity. You’ve got to be nuts to believe it but this is what these people believe and teach. Protecting pedophiles, the most unspeakable of criminals. The Vatican knew it! Unfortunate. Wrong doctrine, wrong conduct. In fact ultimately it will turn to something insane. Before we turn to our text for tonight, turn with me to the epistle of Jude please.
Our subject this evening is "When Korah Rebels, the Man Whose Prayer God Will Answer." It is not about discernment although there is that aspect, that is not the focus. Before we turn back to the rebellion of Korah in Numbers let's look at what the New Testament says about it. We always interpret the Old Testament in light of the New Testament revelation of Jesus. Novum testamentum in Vetere latet, let's look.
Jude verse 10-11: But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
The Epistle of Jude. We have recordings on Jude which deals centrally with false brethren and backsliders in the Church. It describes their conduct and it is perhaps the most comprehensive example of Midrash put into the form of a literary genre we have in the New Testament, but those are other issues. "Like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed." They revile what they don't understand and what they do understand, they understand like unreasoning animals. Well how can you say you understand like an unreasoning animal if an animal cannot reason? No an animal can reason two dimensionally. Animals simply have a body and a soul. They have a consciousness. Humans have a body, soul and a spirit. We are not simply apes with better DNA, we are three dimensional beings, animals are two dimensional beings. Now Darwinists say that we are simply apes with better DNA. That is not true, we have a third dimension. We can reason in accordance with being made Imago Dei, in the image and likeness of God. Animals cannot, it is instinctive with them. These people are in fact those, while claiming to be Christians, reason the way animals do, with a body and a mind but it is not even an acute mind, it's not even an analytical mind, they follow instinct, compulsion. You throw a ball the dog will run. He could be in church, the dog will run, that is his instinct. He will chase the ball, he does not know where he is; it does not matter to him. People who are led by instinct and compulsion; this is animalistic behavior. In the Bible the mind of a beast was given to Nebuchadnezzar. It was a judgment, but I have actually seen videos and read articles where there were false teachers in the church defending animal imitations as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit. They are two dimensional. In fact in some way they lend credence to Darwinism because they behave like baboons--only thing is I don't think the DNA is necessarily better. At least a baboon knows he is a monkey. Now look what happens with these people.
"They have gone the way of Cain." It was Abel who brought the acceptable sacrifice for sin. Those who have another gospel, those who do not have the right atonement for sin will always persecute those who do. Churches with a social gospel, churches with a sacramental gospel, those with some other gospel will always hate those who hold the true one. They will go the way of Cain. Cain will always persecute Abel. Secondly, and again the first born will persecute the second. "For pay they rush headlong into the error of Balaam." Why will people rush into false doctrine? There is a financial inducement. Most of the heresy in the Church today is a money making gimmick or scheme in some way. Alpha courses, Purpose Driven, The God Chasers, all these things, The Prayer of Jabez, all these schemes are making money for somebody. If people think there is money in it they will do it. If you can bring in some hype-artist preacher and hype the people up and get them to give in the flesh... Now if they were that generous in giving in the spirit it would be one thing but when you are manipulating people to behave like unreasoning animals, you know you just throw the monkey some coconuts and they will go bananas for you, like unreasoning animals. There is a financial inducement. There are those who know how to play the monkey instinct. That is what they are doing. They are playing the monkey instinct. They are preaching to baboons, throw them a few bananas and they collect coconuts, they do it for money. That is what it is about. The third thing we see about them is they go into the rebellion of Korah and perish in it.
What was the rebellion of Korah? It was a challenge to Biblical leadership. Biblical leadership was that leadership that upheld the Bible. Turn with me please to the book of Numbers chapter 16. We are looking at the subject: When Korah rebels, but our focus is not the rebellion itself but rather the prayer that God will answer. What is the prayer that God will answer? Whose prayer is the prayer that God will answer?
Numbers 16:1-3: Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took action, 2 and they rose up before Moses, together with some of the sons of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen in the assembly, men of renown. They assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”
These were people of some distinction and renown in the congregation. In the rebellion of Korah it's not just the people who come in, give some false prophecy, say "The Lord sent me here and I have a message for you" and all this and try to ingratiate themselves. This is people who have been in the church for a while and who have some standing in the leadership. The first thing you have to understand about Korah is that Korah is always guilty of what he falsely accuses others of. Korah himself is guilty of what he accuses others of. Secondly, he knows how to appeal to people's base instincts and make it seem spiritual, even biblical. Let’s look at what happens.
You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy; [He becomes a self-appointed spokesman for the people]. "All the congregation are Holy." That is a distortion of a truth. The word holy in Hebrew here is mekudesh, set apart. We get kodesh, set apart. It is true Israel was a set-apart nation. God called them from the other nations. They were a nation set apart. They were called to be a Holy people, a people set apart to God. But in the Hebrew language, as I have explained here before in Cedar Rapids, mekudesh is also the Hebrew word for marry. God sets this man apart to this woman, this woman apart to this man, what God has joined together let no man put asunder. That is the Hebrew wedding. You stand under the Huppah, you take the ring, Harei at mekudeshet li betaba'at zo kedat Mosheh v'Yisrael". "With this ring I wed thee according to the laws of Moses and Israel. Mekudesh, wed, mekudesh, make holy, the same word for the high priest going through the sanctification process to enter the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement. Everybody is holy but only the high priest was holy to go into the Holy of Holies. He was set apart among those who were set apart. Everybody here is holy but you fool around with somebody's husband or somebody's wife it is adultery. They are holy unto you. So just because we are all holy does that mean that anybody could enter the Holy of Holies? Does that mean that anybody can fool around romantically and have a fling with somebody’s husband or wife, of course it does not but that was the argument, "We are all holy." Well the calling that Moses and Aaron had was holy. They were set apart unto it.
If you have a music ministry you are set apart unto it. Just because I can play the piano doesn't mean I am going to be a good music minister or worship leader. You are set apart for that. If you are a preacher you are set apart to that. If you are a deacon, you are set apart to that. If you teach little kids and that is a very important job in the church, that is the future if we have one, you are set apart unto that. It is holy unto you. I didn't give it to you. When God sets somebody apart all the church can do is confirm it. Remember Acts 13? The Holy Spirit said "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul." Then they laid hands on them. In an ordination all we can do is confirm what God has ordained. You are set apart, the church cannot ordain a minister, only God can. We can only confirm and affirm what God has ordained. It’s the Lord's ministers, not the churches. You are set apart to it. But there argument is "We are all holy." Yes we are all holy but we don't all have the same husband or the same wife or the same ministry.... that was their argument. It is always manipulative trying to get the people on their side. Now let’s look.
Numbers 16:4-7: When Moses heard this, he fell on his face; [Notice how many times he falls on his face. When any crisis comes, when any attack comes, especially an attack that comes from a place you would not expect--the devil is good at that, real good, Moses fell on his face. Always go to the Lord before you react to the circumstance. Always go to the Lord before you react to the circumstance!] and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will show who is His, and who is holy, [Now do you understand the relationship between the word holy and set apart?] and will bring him near to Himself; even the one whom He will choose, He will bring near to Himself. [The idea of nearness here of course is who could get close to the ark? The Levites could get closer than the people but then the Cohanim could get closer than the other Levites, but then only the high priest could get to the ark itself.] "even the one whom he will choose he will bring near to himself. Do this: take censers for yourselves, Korah and all your company, and put fire in them, and lay incense upon them in the presence of the Lord tomorrow; and the man whom the Lord chooses shall be the one who is holy. You have gone far enough, you sons of Levi!” [Now going far enough here was an ambiguous term; it didn’t only mean what they were doing they went far enough, but they wanted to get close to the ark. That was a big deal. Moses, when challenged, was willing to let God decide. Moses has no qualms about putting his neck on the line. "You bring your censor, I'll bring my censor and if I am what you say I am and I shouldn't be here and you should be here God will show that. Now coming near the ark is a terrifying thing unless you were the one set apart to do it. He was willing to let God decide, but why the censors?]
Turn with me please to the book of Revelation, chapter 8:3:
Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne.
The incense is a picture, in biblical typology of the prayer of the saints. Turn with me please to the book of Ezekiel Chapter 8:11-12:
Standing in front of them were seventy elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them, each man with his censer in his hand and the fragrance of the cloud of incense rising. Then He said to me, “Son of man, do you see what the elders of the house of Israel are committing in the dark, [They were into idolatry and all sorts].
Notice that the clergy were burning the incense in the censers as prescribed in the Hebrew liturgy. They were going through the public motions of leading worship. They were saying the right words, they were doing the right things, they were carrying out rituals but they were doing it ritually. The prayers of the saints. God speaking to Isaiah said "I will not smell your fragrances." Whose incense will God take into account? What is the incense he will take note of? Whose prayer will God hear? Now they had the censors. Let's go back to Numbers 16. This was Moses' challenge,
"You bring your incense, I'll bring my incense and we will see which incense God takes into account, whose prayer will God hear.
Numbers 16:8: Then Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi, is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them.
Now look what it says, separated again, make holy relates. There is holy and there is holy. We don't all have the same ministry, we don't all have the same husband or the same wife, and we don't all have the same calling. There is holy and there is holy. "You've got it pretty good! All these other people see the ark at a distance; you guys actually get up close to it." Now God ordained this. Aaron didn't appoint himself high priest and Moses did not make himself the prophet, God did. God decreed there would be the tribe of Levi and within that there would be the Kohanim, the priests and then God decreed that there would be an Aaronic high priesthood that was God's decree. Only God can give these callings. Callings should not be confused with status or stature. Here comes the problem. "Why should you be the high priest? Why should you be the leader?" "But you're among the leadership." Never be jealous of another person's calling. Never be jealous of another person's ministry. It is not theirs. It is the Lord's. It wasn't given to them; it was given to the body through them. I don't have the gift of teaching. If I have the gift of teaching the body of Christ has the gift of teaching. It may be through me but it is not to me, it is to you. You don't know people by their gifts; you know them by their fruits. It is not what the calling is; it is how faithful they are to it. Matthew 23: What do you do with those talents? And so we have the pastor who God is blessing and God is using and the church is growing and it's planting another church and people are getting saved, and he brings such a powerful word every Sunday. But when we get to heaven we find it's the little old lady who washes the church steps, as I always point out, who prays for that pastor three hours a day, who is the dynamo who made that church grow and his ministry blossom. He was faithful to what God called him to do; she was faithful to what God called her to do. When we get to heaven we are told by Jesus that many of the first will be among the last and many of the least will be among the first. So you've got two ladies in the church, one is married to a pastor or married to an elder and she is on this committee and that committee, and she is the Sunday School superintendent and she is this, and she is that, she is a deaconess, "God is really using her in that fellowship." Yes, but then there is another lady in the church who happens to be the mother of a Down's syndrome child that takes all of her time and energy and she cannot be on this committee or on that committee, she is just called to love that one baby with the love of Jesus, that is her calling. She is set apart to it. That does not make one higher than the other. A calling or a gifting is nothing to do with us. How faithful are we to that calling; that is something. Never be jealous of another person's gifting or calling.
We have in England a wonderful Messianic Bible Gospel Singer named Helen Shapiro. She was a secular pop star in the 1960s. On their first tour of England the Beatles were her opening act. She is Jewish and she now sings only gospel music, some in Hebrew, some in English, but it is magnificent music. I love her music, I love listening to her when I am driving in England on the motor ways and so forth but I am never going to sing like her this side of the millennium. If my wife is to be believed, I sing like a castrated parrot. That is it. I am never going to play piano as well as Marty Goetz. I am never going to play piano as well as my wife or daughter, this side of the millennium. I don't have it. I've got to do what I've got to do. Do not be jealous of another person's calling or gifting; that does not determine their status or stature in Christ; neither does yours determine yours. No matter how humble it seems. Many of the first will be last and many of the last will be first. But let's look further. He wanted to be a "big wheel."
Numbers 16:9-11: "Is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them; and that He has brought you near, Korah, and all your brothers, sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking for the priesthood also? [He wants to be the head honcho, wants to be the big wheel]. Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against [Moses? No they think they are gathered against Moses.] You are gathered against the Lord; but as for Aaron, who is he that you grumble against him?”
When attacks like this come it is not only against the person being attacked, it is against their family. The attack comes on the family. So the first thing we see about Moses is this; he was called and his doctrine was right. God ordained the Levitical priesthood and the Aaronic high priesthood, which is the second thing we see about him. He said "God did this. God set up the Aaronic priesthood, not me. Then it continues:
Numbers 12-13: Then Moses sent a summons to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab; but they said, “We will not come up. Is it not enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to have us die in the wilderness, but you would also lord it over us?"
Remember Korah always accuses others of that of which he is guilty himself. He falsely accuses Moses of heavy shepherding, what the New Testament calls Nicolaitanism. Ezekiel 34, heavy shepherding. He falsely accuses Moses of heavy shepherding, of lording it over the people. Moses did not lord it over the people, he was the servant of the people. But if Korah was head honcho he would have lorded it over the people. Korah is always guilty of what he falsely accuses others of. Now notice, Moses wanted to let God decide. What does Korah and his people say? "We will not come up." They want the people to decide. There is a fundamental reason democracy is disappearing in America and in Britain. The Puritans of England, who established parliamentary democracy, and the Founding Fathers of America, who established presidential democracy both understood that for democracy to work we must be governed by men who are governed by God. Once we are no longer governed by men who are governed by God, but rather governed by men who are governed by men, democracy will cease to function, it will break down. Hence you have polls. Politicians do not care about upholding the principles of the Judeo-Christian scripture anymore and the God who gave them. What they care about is not getting caught and the next election. That is how decisions are made. As a result Congress is not making the laws. Parliament is not making the laws. We have judicial fascism. You have reprobate judges legislating from the bench in open defiance of what the Constitution actually says. Democracy is disappearing. Why? If you are not governed by men who are governed by God it will not work. Instead they are governed by men who are governed by men. What does the latest Gallup poll say? Give the people what they want instead of what God says they need. Freedom abused will be freedom that is “losed”. He takes his case to the people. Korah tries to get a quorum of follows among the congregation, falsely accusing Moses of heavy shepherding, which he was not guilty of. And then he says "You've not brought us to a land of milk and honey." No, but we've come out of Egypt and we will one day enter a land of milk and honey. Right now we are sojourning in the wilderness. The only thing God promises us in this life and in this world is the grace to get through it. The manna had honey on it. The Word of God is sweet. If God gives you the grace to get through this fallen world on your way to the Promised Land, and you get anything extra, that is a bonus, thank God for it. There are Christians being persecuted in China, there are Christians being persecuted in Islamic countries. They don't have any honey. They just want Jesus to come because they have nothing else to hope in or trust in. One day we will enter a land flowing with milk and honey but not this fallen world. Remember every lie of Satan aimed at the Western church today, every lie of Satan aimed at us today in the Western World is designed to get us to trust in this life and in this world. The fundamental message of Jesus in Christian discipleship is not to trust in this life in this world. But the faith prosperity thing, the Kingdom Now thing, the postmillennial thing, the Purpose Driven thing, all of that stuff is geared to get us to trust in this world in some way. "You haven't brought us to a land flowing with milk and honey." There is no milk and honey here. We are on our way to the land of milk and honey. Pick up the newspaper. This place is rotten. Thank God we are saved out of it. The milk and honey is waiting. Who wants a good life for 80-90 years of this rotten place when you can have a fantastic life for 1000 years and then heaven! It just does not make any biblical sense to trust in this world. Now, I am not saying we have to go around being miserable all the time. Make the best of a bad thing Ecclesiastes says. But it is a bad place. Not too many of the great men of the scriptures died happy but they were all happy to die. Korah will try to get you to hope in this world in some way. The people who show this kind of rebellion, there is always an anger, do it for money, remember? They are in the character of Cain, they are in the character of Balaam and they are in the character of Korah, Jude tells us. The Gospel will be compromised, integrity will be compromised. Truth will be compromised.
Numbers 16:15-24: Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not regard their offering! I have not taken a single donkey from them, nor have I done harm to any of them.”
Korah always accuses others of what he is really about himself. Korah would have taken their donkey. He would have taken their Mercedes; he would have taken their life savings if he could. He is in it for the buck. What are Benny and Kenny really about? But Moses, his motives were pure. Now understand the word pure. In Greek the word pure is katharsis. Anything that is not clean has been cleansed out of it. In Hebrew the word pure is tahor. Lev tahor berali Elohim. Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, but in Hebrew it is a pure heart. What does it mean? There is no mixture, there is no impurity. This is not to say everything Korah was going to do and believe was wrong; it's just that it was all tainted with impurity. There were ambiguous motives. Remember, God hates the mixture. The Hebrews could not make a doctrine of flax and wool. God hates the mixture. Laodicea--hot, cold, lukewarm is the mixture, bad. He hates the mixture. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. He hates the mixture. Create in me a pure heart, O Lord. Lev tahor berali Elohim. A couple of drops of arsenic make all the difference. Don't tell me there is some truth in what false teachers teach. There is always real cheese in the rat trap. If there is impurity in the doctrine there is impurity in the heart. Leaven--a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees. But let's look.
"I haven't taken a donkey from them." His motives were pure. He was not in it for himself, Korah was. "Nor have I done any harm to any of them." He wasn't into heavy shepherding. Do not abuse or exploit the sheep. He was called, his doctrine was right, his motives were pure and he did not abuse or exploit the Lord's sheep. But let’s continue:
And Moses said to Korah, “You and all your company be present before the Lord tomorrow, both you and they along with Aaron. Each of you take his firepan and put incense on it, and each of you bring his censer before the Lord, two hundred and fifty firepans; also you and Aaron shall each bring his firepan.” So they each took his own censer and put fire on it, and laid incense on it; and they stood at the doorway of the tent of meeting, with Moses and Aaron. Thus Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the doorway of the tent of meeting. [Notice Korah was able to organize the entire congregation against the leadership. They know how to appeal to people. Give the monkey a banana.]
And the glory of the Lord appeared to all the congregation. Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, [There is that word “separate” again.] "They are unholy, you be holy. Come away from them that I may consume them instantly.” [But Moses does something.] But they fell on their faces. [What did he say? "Yes, get 'em Lord!" No, for the second time he fell on his face. There was another occasion when Moses actually said to God "Blot me out of your book." He was willing to take the people's sin and be accursed of God for their sake, even though they were guilty.] And said, “O God, God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, will You be angry with the entire congregation?” Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Get back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’”
Then Moses says "all right, they followed these guys into rebellion against you but please, they've been misled by this crooked leader. Just get the leader who mislead them." This is the anger of Jesus in Matthew 23, that leadership is who misleads the people. It is an awesome thing. "Let few of you be teachers, teachers will be judged more strictly than the rest." When I stand before Jesus he is going to hold me more accountable than he holds most of you. Do not think that that does not make me tremble. Every time I stand here I know he is going to hold me more accountable than he holds you. The things that are in my life that are wrong I make no excuse for. But if I ever stood up here and misled you with wrong doctrine that is a whole other level of culpability in God's eyes. When I hear these jerks on TV and writing this nonsense in these crazy books--who do they think--do they have any idea what they are doing? Crazy!
So God tells him "Tell the people get away from these crooked leaders, get away from their tents." I have no problem telling people to get away from Francis Frangipane's church. Why? Because the Bible says "Warn them to get away." Get away from Francis Frangipane's church. He brings in one false teacher, one false prophet after another. God says "Get away." Moses didn't say "Get away." Jacob Prasch didn't say "Get away." God said to warn people to get away. "Why do you name the names? That is not gracious." Look out for Alexander the coppersmith, look out for Hymenaeus, look out for Philetus, look out for Diotrephes, look out for Korah." Why did the apostles and Hebrew prophets name the names? Because they were gracious, because they cared about people. We are not called to protect wolves. We are called to protect sheep and to shoot wolves. That's what God says. He warned against them by name. "Get away from their tents." Get out of those churches; if they are ecumenical get away from it. Faith prosperity--get out of there!
Numbers 16:25-26: Then Moses arose and went to Dathan and Abiram, with the elders of Israel following him, and he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing that belongs to them, or you will be swept away in all their sin.”
You've been warned! What does it say in Revelation? "Come out of her my people lest you participate in her sins and share in her plagues." It does not say they are not his people but because you are his people get out of there. Get out of those tents.
Numbers 16:27-30: So they got back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the doorway of their tents, along with their wives and their sons and their little ones. Moses said, “By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing. If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer the fate of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the Lord.”
Of course this is where we get our imagery of hell. Even geologists say the core of the earth is molten nickel, speculatively. I don't say that's where hell is, I simply say this is where we get the imagery of it. Now look at this. Moses says "it's not my doing" in verse 28. "If these guys get swallowed up in judgment then go down to Sheol don't come crying to me, I didn't want this. This is not my thing. I didn't ask for this showdown, they pushed it. I didn't want any of this. Now I am putting my own neck on the line, if I am guilty God's wrath is going to fall on me but if these guys are guilty God's wrath is going to fall on them--and when it does, don't blame me, I didn't want this." Well, let's look at what happens. They spurned the Lord in verse 30.
Numbers 16:31-33 As he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions. So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly.
Remember they went down alive. These people's bodies, they are not going into the lake of fire when they die, they go alive into the lake of fire. Everybody is resurrected, the question is which resurrection? They will be cast alive into the lake of fire. They will be fully conscious and know what is happening to them. Now of course in eternity they are already separated from God, they already know what is happening but there will be a literal resurrection of the body. They will be physically alive when they go into hell. This is not to teach soul sleep; soul sleep is a false doctrine but there is a resurrection that is coming. Their bodies and ours will be reunited with our souls and spirits.
Numbers 16:33-40: So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. All Israel who were around them fled at their outcry, for they said, “The earth may swallow us up!” Fire also came forth from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense. Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Say to Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, that he shall take up the censers out of the midst of the blaze, for they are holy; and you scatter the burning coals abroad. As for the censers of these men who have sinned at the cost of their lives, let them be made into hammered sheets for a plating of the altar, since they did present them before the Lord and they are holy; and they shall be for a sign to the sons of Israel.” So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers which the men who were burned had offered, and they hammered them out as a plating for the altar, as a reminder to the sons of Israel that no layman who is not of the descendants of Aaron should come near to burn incense before the Lord; so that he will not become like Korah and his company—just as the Lord had spoken to him through Moses.
Remember the censer was holy but the thoroughfare wasn't. God will always keep what is holy but he will take it from the one who is unholy, ultimately.
Numbers 16:41-50: But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You are the ones who have caused the death of the Lord’s people.”
"But I just told you don't blame me, I didn't want this! This was their thing. I told you, I am putting my neck on the line; if I am guilty it will fall on me but it fell on them. I told you ahead of time 'don't come crying to me when this happens.'" So they come crying to him when it happens. They blame him. "You caused the death of the Lord's people."
Numbers 16:42- It came about, however, when the congregation had assembled against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tent of meeting, and behold, the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. [Now the cloud is, of course, the Shekinah.] Then Moses and Aaron came to the front of the tent of meeting, and the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.” [So what does he do? Not for the first time, not for the second time, but for the third time he falls on his face.] Then they fell on their faces. 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. But those who died by the plague were 14,700, besides those who died on account of Korah. Then Aaron returned to Moses at the doorway of the tent of meeting, for the plague had been checked.
Now understand, we always interpret the Old Testament, the Tanakh, the Torah in light of the New Testament revelation of Jesus. We are told in Hebrews the Aaronic high priest is a picture of Christ. When Jesus hung on the cross in my place and in yours, he was the high priest making atonement on the altar. When God took our sin and put it on his son in order to put his righteousness on us and he was nailed to the cross by the Romans, he was our high priest making atonement for our sin on the altar. He is our high priest. What does Hebrews say? "We do not have a high priest who cannot empathize with us." Moses told Aaron "Run into the midst of the people." The high priest had to become identified with those he was trying to save. He who knew no sin became sin. He who had no sin came in the likeness of sinful flesh. We had a high priest who could empathize with us because he became what we are. The high priest had to run into the middle of the people. Only then could he make atonement. "And he stood between the living and the dead." When the Lord Jesus hung on the cross in my place and in your place he stopped the plague. He hung between the place of the living and the dead. That is what the high priest did. Only by identifying with the people, only by going into their midst could the high priest bring the acceptable sacrifice that God would take into account.
And so becomes the question--Why is it that God heard the prayer of Moses? Why is it that it was the incense of Moses and Aaron that God took into account? What was it that made God hear their prayer? Not once, not twice, three times. What was it? The thing that made God hear the prayer of Moses is the thing that will make God hear your prayer and mine. The thing that caused God to inhale the incense of Moses is the thing that will make that same God find your incense and mine acceptable. Why did God hear the prayer of Moses? Did God hear his prayer because he was called? Yes God heard his prayer because he was called but there was more to it than that. Did God hear his prayer because his doctrine was correct? Yes his doctrine was indeed correct and God heard his prayer but there is more. Did God hear his prayer because his motives were pure? Yes God heard his prayer because his motives were pure, but there is more than that. Did God hear his prayer because he did not abuse or exploit his position? Yes God heard his prayer because he did not abuse or exploit the sheep misusing his position. All those things are true; all those things are indefensible and if someone lacks those things I would not expect God is going to hear their prayer. It says in James "You can ask and not receive it you don't ask with a right motive." That is all true but there is something more than that. As crucial, as vital as each of those things are there was another reason, an even greater reason that God heard the prayer of Moses. Because when they turned against Moses, indeed, when they rebelled against God himself, when they were not called, when their doctrine was false, when their motives were not pure, when they followed scoundrels what did Moses do? He fell on his face and said "Spare thy people, O Lord." He did what Jesus did. He said "Forgive them." Why should God become a man and hang of the cross for a cocaine dealer and a campus radical from New York like me? Why? I do not know why. Maybe someday he will tell me why. In heaven I will know why, but right now I don't know why he did, I just know that he did! He hung between the place of the living and the dead. When he hung there, despite all the things I did to him, despite the terrible things I had done, he said "Father, forgive him. Father forgive them, they know not what they do." These people don't know. Do you think these people in Frangipane’s church...they don't have a clue, they don't know. They have never been to a Bible study in the sense that you would know what one is. They don't know. Does it get me angry? I am sure it got Moses angry. It certainly got God angry. But there was another side of God. Before his judgment came he wanted to show his mercy. He wanted to give people a chance to repent and be saved. And so God heard the prayer of Moses. Of course he was called. Was his doctrine right? Absolutely. Where his motives pure? Yes! Did he exploit or abuse God's people? No, never. Are all these things true? Certainly, yes but there was more to it. The reason God sniffed that incense, the reason God heard that prayer is the one reason God will hear your prayer and mine. We must be called, our doctrine must be right, our motives must be pure, we must not exploit or abuse his people, that is a given. But the capacity to say "Dear God, they have rebelled against you, they've turned against me, they have cursed me, they have unjustly accused us when we were only doing your will. Please forgive them." That is why God heard the prayer of Moses. That is the one prayer, as it were, that God himself cannot turn a deaf ear to. That is the one prayer that God can never say no to. "Father, forgive them."