Moses Part 21

Moses, the man of God

A study

Part 21

Some Important Events of the Years of Wandering – A Numbers 16 to 20

The national apostasy of the children of Israel at Kadesh-barnea, resulted in the nation being overthrown in the wilderness. The entire accountable generation, twenty years and above, except Caleb and Joshua, was caused to wander in the wilderness for another 38½ years, until every individual in that generation had died. (Deut.2: 14,15, Jude 5, Heb.3: 19) Many noteworthy events transpired during these days of wanderings. Let us study some of these events.


In an earlier occasion, when Miriam and Aaron, his own sister and brother stood against Moses, in Numb.12, we saw the patience and humility of Moses. And God also rebuked them and testified on behalf of His servant, Moses. Here in Numb.16 we find the most serious difficulty faced by Moses during the 40 years in the wilderness. Korah, a cousin of Moses, rallied to himself 250 princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown. They started to question, Why is the priesthood reserved only for the family of Aaron? (v.3) And why should Moses keep acting like a prince over us? (v.13) But we must understand that if God has entrusted the priesthood to the family of Aaron, should they not acknowledge this special position? If God has invested Moses with authority, must not his decisions be obeyed with all submission? But the rebellion grows to the point of involving the whole assembly (v.19).

The ingratitude and rebellion of the people might have constrained Moses to abandon them to their fate. But Moses exercises utmost patience and stays on in his God-given position of authority without losing his spirit of grace and humility. As at so many previous occasions, Moses falls on his face and leaves the decision to God. When God threatens to destroy the entire people (v.21), Moses intercedes for them. But all the people must know that God’s judgement does not spare the guilty ones who do not repent. So the ground opens its mouth suddenly and swallows up those evil men with their wives, their sons and their little ones. A fire from the Lord consumes others who joined with them. Even after witnessing this dreadful judgement of God, the people on the very next day, became defiant, and grieved and mourned over their famous men who were destroyed by God, and murmured against Moses and Aaron. Due to God’s displeasure, a plague breaks out and would have destroyed them all, had not Aaron taken a censor upon Moses’ instruction and stood between the dead and the living. Thus the plague was stayed.

The FIRST LESSON we must learn from this chapter is that we should acknowledge the position imparted by God to each one of His people. In the Body of Christ, God has placed each member as it pleased Him. None can say to another, “We do not need you.” Members who seem less important cannot think that they do not belong to the Body. In this way some try to lord over others, while others neglect their responsibility. It is important for us to discern the place of personal service the Lord has entrusted to each of us. Then in dependence on Him, seek through His grace to faithfully fulfill that place without trying to encroach on the ground entrusted by the Lord to others.

SECONDLY, from the severity of the judgement, we can clearly understand how much the Lord dislikes the attitude demonstrated by Korah and his associates. We must recognise the authority entrusted by God to His servants and be subject to them in the Lord. (Heb.13: 7,17, 1Cor.16: 15,16, 1Thess.5: 12-14)

THIRDLY we can see how the matured servant of God, Moses handled the whole situation in humility, patience and total dependence on the Lord. We must be careful never to exalt ourselves above measure.


God, however, wanted to confirm openly the priesthood of Aaron. He gives a sign to clearly designate the one He has chosen. It is not a sign of death like the fire, which consumed the wicked men, but a sign of life. The rod of Aaron and the rods of the princes of the 12 tribes were placed in the sanctuary together. But Aaron’s rod alone buds forth, bearing flowers and fruits. Thus, here Aaron is a type of that heavenly High Priest, ” …who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life.” (Heb.7: 16)


Once more there was no water, and again murmurings, reproaches and questions are raised. The Lord in His grace gives precise instructions to Moses. He and Aaron must take the rod from before the Lord, gather the assembly and speak before them to the rock. (Numb.20: 8) It is a moment of tension, irritation and indignation for Moses. He says to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock? Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod.” Thus, in his anger and frustration, Moses disobeys the Lord’s precise order to only speak to the rock. Though on an earlier occasion the Lord had instructed him to strike the rock (Exo.17: 6), but in the present incident he was told to simply speak to the rock.

God was displeased with the rash action of Moses, and said unto him, “you shall not bring this congregation into the land” (v.12). Several times Moses beseeches God to revoke His sentence, but the divine decision remains unchanged (Deut.3: 25,26). Though Moses the servant of God continues to be in communion and intimacy with the Lord, the consequences of his disobedience remains unaltered. This incident has a very important lesson for all of us. We, who are His redeemed people, should be very careful to hear Him and obey Him in all matters always. (Deut.5: 29) Every act of disobedience will affect our spiritual life and cause great and irrecoverable loss to us. (Heb.2: 2)

Typological meaning of the SIN OF MOSES

This incident also has a very important typological meaning. The rock refers to the Lord Jesus Christ (1Cor.10: 4). At the beginning of their journey in Exo.17 the command of God was to strike the rock. But at the end of their journey in Numb.20 the command was to speak to the rock. Two different Hebrew words are used for the “rock.” The Hebrew word, in Exo.17, for the rock, tsuwr {tsoor} refers to an ordinary, strong rock. But in Numb.20 the word means a lofty rock, in Hebrew: cela` {seh’-lah} meaning to be lofty. According to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, 2000 years ago, the Lord Jesus Christ came into this world to be smitten (suffer and die) as the Lamb of God. (Acts 2: 23, Isa.53) But after His sufferings, death, resurrection and ascension, He is seated at the right hand of God, to intercede for us and to return soon as the King of kings. (Phil.2: 9-11, 1Cor.15: 24,25)

This typology as applied to THE WHOLE WORLD

The Lord Jesus Christ, at His first coming, suffered and died as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world (John 1: 29). All those who have heard, understood and believed this good news should now, hear Him and be obedient to Him. Then only, when He returns in all His power and great glory, they will be found worthy to enter into His coming glorious kingdom and reign with Him (Rev.3: 21, Heb.6: 4-6). Otherwise, like Moses, they will fall short of the goal of their calling, and will be found unfit to enter into His kingdom, sit with Him on His throne and reign with Him.

This typology as applied to the JEWS

The Jews, as a nation, killed the Passover lamb, on that day before being delivered from the bondage of Egypt. (Exo.12) From that day onwards God considered them as His Redeemed people. They had symbolically accepted that the Lord provided a sacrifice as their perfect substitute to reconcile them to the true and living God. Then, 2000 years ago, the Lord Jesus Christ appeared among the Jews and offered to them the kingdom of the heavens. He also presented Himself to them as the King of the Jews (Matt.2: 2, 21: 5, 27: 11, 27: 37, Mk.15: 2, 12, 13, Lk.23: 2,3, John 1: 49, 18: 37, 19: 15, 21). But they refused to submit to His authority and acknowledge Him as their king. Led by their religious leaders, the Jews rejected Him and crucified Him, (Matt.23: 13,37,38) and consequently the kingdom was taken away from them and is now being offered to the Church, consisting of numerous individuals saved mostly from among the Gentiles. Thus the Jews as a nation (as pictured typologically through Moses being barred from entering Canaan) lost the privilege of entering into the kingdom of the heavens. (Matt.22: 43, Acts 28: 27-29)


Now it is the 40th year of their wilderness journey. Here we see the death of Miriam (Numb.20: 1) and Aaron (Numb.20: 23-29, 33: 38,39). Moses did as the LORD commanded: They went up Mount Hor in the sight of the whole community. Moses removed Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar. And Aaron died there on top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain. (Numb.20: 27,28) It is so beautiful to see how the saints of God, know from God the time of their passing away, and they peacefully set their houses in order and go to be with their Lord.

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints (Psa.116: 15).

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