Korah and 250 representatives of the tribes of Israel withstood Moses and challenged him on his role as leader of Israel. Korah wanted all Israelites to be equal. Moses accepted the challenge, telling them that God would decide who was truly His and holy. These men included Levites, who served the temple. Moses instructed them to take censers to offer incense before the Lord the next day. They refused at first, but Moses insisted. The next morning they showed up with their censers, and the presence of the Lord appeared at the door of the tabernacle. The Lord told Moses to separate himself from Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, who led the rebellion. Moses did, and instructed all of Israel to do so as well. When they did, the ground split open and swallowed them and their families up and closed over them. Then fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who held censers offering incense. God told them to gather the censers, empty them of the profane fire, and hammer them into bronze plates to cover the altar. This was a memorial to the fact that only Levites could offer incense.
The next day, the Israelites complained about what happened to Korah and the others, and God sent a plague against them. Moses instructed the Levites, specifically Aaron to run among the people with a censer and make atonement. When Aaron stood between the dead and the living, the plague ceased. 14,700 died in the plague, in addition to the 250 plus the families of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.
God made a decree later in the history of Israel that, I believe, was in place in principle here in Numbers. That decree was that no one should touch God’s anointed. God uniquely called and gifted Moses to lead the people out of bondage and into the promised land of their rest. When he was opposed, over and over again, God defended him in supernatural ways. This is a testament to the power of God’s calling on an individual. How does this apply to our world today? The called in the church to ministry or leadership have a unique purpose and plan, designed by God, for a vocation in ministry. This is a sacrificial call, and a sacrificial life, if taken to heart and lived fully. When a pastor or leader speaks into your life, even if you do not always understand the purpose or reason behind it, trust that the Lord is working through that person to bless you. If they turn out to be wrong, then God will deal with them. However, God is calling you to follow His leadership as He works through the men and women of God over you in the Lord. In so doing, He will bless. In disobedience, you walk out of the covering of the Most High and walk in judgement. That is not a place you want to walk!