38 KORAKH ('bald'); Num 16-18, John 9&10

This part of Berea is organized around an annual Bible reading schedule of the first five books of the OT and the first five of the NT. Like manna from heaven, His Word is the Bread of Life, and as we 'eat it' on a daily basis it nourishes us and makes us grow. We borrowed the framework from a schedule that is common in many congregations or synagogues because it seems to work well. The schedule is divided into about 61 fixed topics in a set order (one for each week, plus God's feasts) using a Hebrew title, the English transliteration of the name, and the Bible section.

Comments or personal insights on anything in that section of Scripture are welcome, as are links to other commentaries or related articles. Jump in!

38 KORAKH ('bald'); Num 16-18, John 9&10

Postby Bruce Bertram » Sat Jun 24, 2006 4:47 pm

This section begins with the story of Korah’s rebellion, which is the other bookend to the rebellion after the spies return from scoping out Canaan. In between these two wonderful examples of Jewish love for God there is the seemingly obedient episode of stoning a man for gathering wood on the Sabbath. Korah is a Levite who leads a group of 250 leaders tired of Moses’ leadership. They challenge him, and Moses suggests they take some censers and fill them with fire and incense, and the Lord will ‘bring near’ (16:5) the ones who are acceptable. The center of the problem, apparently, is the position of high priest, but another part of the problem is that they are blaming Moses and Aaron for not getting the people into the promised Land. Moses invites two other leaders (Dathan and Abiram) but they refuse the invite. Korah does the incense thing, but when God’s glory appears He tells Moses and Aaron that He is going to destroy the camp. They intercede and ask if God will destroy everyone for one person’s sin. God replies that everyone needs to move away from the dwellings of the challengers, and Moses says that if the transgressors die a natural death then God “has not sent me.” But if, say for instance, the ground swallows them up then the people will know that the rebellious ones have ‘spurned the Lord.’ The ground does indeed swallow up the leaders, and fire comes out from the Lord and consumes the rest. The censers are beaten into a covering for the altar.

This isn’t enough, however. The very next day the people grumble that it was Moses who caused the death of Korah and company, so a plague breaks out killing many. Moses instructs Aaron to fill his censer with fire and incense and run to the midst of the assembly to intercede. Aaron stands between the dead and the living and the plague was checked. 14,700 people died on top of the number of rebellious people the day before. Next, God instructs Moses to get a staff from the leaders of each of the clans, which he does, and God causes the staff of Aaron to blossom into almond flowers and even ripe almonds. The staff is placed in the ark as a reminder against rebellion. In chapter 18 God reminds the Levites that they are set apart for the service of the Tabernacle, and no one else may be a part of that service. God is also their inheritance, because they don’t have land among the people.
20Then the LORD said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land nor own any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the sons of Israel. (Numbers 18:20 NASB95)

We wrap up this section with God going over some of the offering rules and instructions for the tithe.

John 9 describes Jesus healing a man blind from birth on a Sabbath, using some clay made from dirt and spit. This makes the religious leaders angry because they think Jesus is breaking the Sabbath. The man is taken before the Pharisees, but they are divided about Jesus, because His works testify that He is from God. And this is the testimony of the formerly blind man as well. The parents don’t want to say anything, because the rulers had already decided to throw anyone out of the synagogue that testified that Jesus is the Messiah. But the man stands up to the leaders, and points out that nowhere in history has anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. Therefore God must be with the man who did it. The leaders are upset with the formerly blind man because he is pointing out the obvious to them but isn’t educated like they are. Perhaps that is the problem. Jesus finds the man after the ordeal at court and asks him if he believes in the Son of Man. The man asks who this person is, and Jesus says it is Himself. The man believes and worships, and Jesus says that He came so that the blind would see, but that the seeing would become blind. Some Pharisees ask if they are blind, so Jesus says if they couldn’t see they would have no sin, but since they say they can see then their “sin remains.”

Jesus continues to teach in chapter 10 about being the Good Shepherd and the Gate of the sheepfold. Just as sheep will only follow the voice of the true shepherd, so His sheep hear His voice and will only follow Him. They will not follow strangers. The good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep, which a hireling will not do. Jesus says He has other sheep not of this fold, and He must find those and bring them in too, and they will be one flock with one shepherd. Some of His hearers want to believe He is saying things that indicate He is demon possessed, but others point out that a demon possessed man cannot heal blind people.

Later, in the winter during the festival of Lights (Hanukah) some of the leaders want Jesus to tell them plainly if He is the Messiah. Jesus uses the sheep symbol again to say that if they were His sheep they would know if He was the Messiah. He gives eternal life to His sheep, because they know His voice and follow Him. He does this because He and the Father are one. At this the leaders pick up stones to kill Him, but Jesus asks why? Doesn’t the Scripture say that God’s people are ‘Elohim (Psalm 82:6)?’ So why do they want to stone Him? They respond that Jesus is equating Himself with God. So Jesus says that at the very least they should believe the works that Jesus is doing, so that they can see that Jesus and the Father are one. The leaders try to stone Him, but He mysteriously escapes and goes back to the Jordan where John had been baptizing before.

Shalom
Bruce Scott Bertram - http://www.wholebible.com
War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory.
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Disciples

Postby Bruce Bertram » Sat Jun 16, 2007 4:06 pm

24So a second time they called the man who had been blind, and said to him, “Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.” 25He then answered, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26So they said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” 27He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?” 28They reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. (John 9:24-28 NASB95)

In John 9:6 Jesus makes clay and puts it on the eyes of a man born blind, and later, after washing at the pool of Siloam, the man gains his sight. I have often wondered why He made clay, when it seems that many other times Jesus could heal just by saying something. What was different about this occasion? Was there something in Jesus’ spittle that caused the healing? Perhaps the mud was some sort of therapeutic type, such as is used nowadays in beauty salons?

One key is in John 9:14 where we find out that the event happened on a Sabbath. The religious leaders of the day accused Jesus of violating the Sabbath, but there is no regulation in Torah that prohibited either healing or making clay to heal on that day of the week. So the law that the leaders allege was broken was not God’s; it was one of their own making. Therefore, the leaders were not so much concerned with Torah as they were with their power and authority. This seems to be the reason for the clay – it’s a test. This is backed up by Jesus’ statement.
39And Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” (John 9:39 NASB95)


In Numbers 16 through 18 we read of Korah’s rebellion and the after-affects. Essentially, Korah is part of the K’hat (or Kohath) clan, those who were charged with the care and setup of the tabernacle (Num. 4:15). They were not part of the clan that had the High Priestly functions. But Korah and his buddies had their own definitions for High Priest qualifications, and decided to test them by telling Moses they were qualified to swing the brazier themselves. Turns out they were wrong, and people died. Korah and company did not want to stay in the place they were assigned but took it upon themselves to claim authority. They overstepped their bounds, just like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day. The Korahites didn’t succeed at that time because of God’s direct intervention, but unfortunately they have succeeded on way too many occasions since.

The Pharisees and Sadducees claimed to be disciples of Moses, but it is clear by their high-handed actions that they were disciples of Korah instead. If somehow the people of Korah had managed to take charge at the time, their actions might’ve looked a lot like the actions of the Pharisees and Sadducees. A disciple acts like his master, and the actions of these religious leaders were more like Korah than Moses. Like Korah, they overstepped their bounds when they assumed authority by coming up with their own definitions of what God wanted. Then, like Korah judged Aaron, they used this self-created standard to judge Jesus. If they had truly been like Moses, they would’ve acted like him and recognized the Messiah right then and there.

Jesus explains further in John 10 that His sheep hear His voice and follow Him. They will not follow another because he is a stranger. Korah was like the thief Jesus mentions (John 10:10) who came to steal, kill, and destroy. His works showed what he was. His followers knew his voice and followed him to destruction. The Pharisees and Sadducees did not know the voice of Jesus the good shepherd because they were not His sheep. They refused to accept the miracle of the blind receiving sight because they were too caught up in their desire for authority. By twisting the Word to their own purposes and refusing to recognize the works of Jesus they proved they were not in the fold of the Master Shepherd.

Korah and his ilk rejected the Father’s miracles and chose instead to promote themselves as judges over God and His Word. His disciples, the Pharisees and Sadducees, did the same with Jesus. Korah’s disciples are all around us doing similar works even today, usurping authority by sitting in judgment on the Word using self-created standards. God’s sheep know His Voice, and the principle message is John 10:30.
30“I and the Father are one.”

31The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. 32Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” 33The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” (John 10:30-33 NASB95)

We know the disciples of Korah are different from the disciples of Moses because not only do they refuse to acknowledge that Jesus is God, they prove it by their usurpation of the Word, adding and subtracting as they please.
3They 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?” (Numbers 16:3 NASB95)

Indeed, why did Korah exalt himself over the assembly of the Lord? Why did his disciples the Pharisees and Sadducees seek to do the same thing? And why do so many present day teachers and followers of Korah exalt themselves over the Word and the assembly of the Lord? Simply put, they want the power and the worship for themselves. All who seek their own glory and not the Father’s are in darkness, but Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus saves, others just pretend to care.
12“He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13“He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. (John 10:12-13 NASB95)

This is the mark of a hired hand (like Korah and his disciples), or a shepherd who is seeking only personal gain - he will flee when the wolf comes. In our time we can tell a hired hand from a shepherd because the shepherd lays down his life for the sheep and the hired hand is only interested in gaining followers or other compensation. How often do we see shepherds laying down their lives now? Unfortunately, not very often. More often we see a grasping after personal glory. To detect a thief all we have to do is look at the works.
37“If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:37-38 NASB95)

Shalom
Bruce Scott Bertram - http://www.wholebible.com
War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory.
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God Doesn't Listen to Sinners

Postby Bruce Bertram » Fri Jun 29, 2012 9:46 am

Numbers 16:1 - 18:32; 1 Samuel 11:14 - 12:22; John 9 and 10; 2 Timothy 2:8-21; Jude 1-25
We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. (John 9:31, ESV)

This verse is a great one for tying together lessons from both major sections of this reading. According to the man born blind in John 9, God does not listen to sinners, but only to those who are His worshipers and do His will. In Korah’s rebellion, the ringleaders are insisting that they also can do what Moses and Aaron can do, which is, talk to God as high priests. Whoops, I guess they weren’t correct in their thinking.

The first problem I think of when I read this verse is – who is a sinner? Everyone sins. Solomon says that “there is no one who does not sin” (2 Chronicles 6:36). Isaiah says that “all our righteousness is as filthy rags” or “our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment” (Isaiah 64:6). Paul tells the Romans that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). So we are faced with an apparent conundrum. If everyone sins, how do we get God to listen to us?
You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. (James 4:2–3, ESV)

Sin is different than being a sinner. A sin is anything we do or think short of God’s perfection. It could be something big or little, or even a series of wrongs. We can commit to God and yet do things wrong sometimes. When a sin comes to our attention we confess and repent (change). Sinning, on the other hand, is a career. It’s a way of life, a road that leads away from God. A sinner takes no thought, or very little thought, about what matters to God, or His revealed will. God’s will doesn’t matter to the sinner. A sinner can think they are right while deep into wrong. A worshiper of God might make mistakes or sin, but they won’t stay that way. They face God and seek His will in everything.

But we might be making too big of a distinction here. Humans, in general, are sinners. Even when we stop making it a career we still fall short of the glory of God. The blind guy is trying to say that Jesus must be special, because God listened to Jesus and healed his blindness. The (formerly) blind guy could have been meaning that pretty much all people are sinners and God wouldn’t listen to them as a general rule. In his opinion, only a very Unique Person would be able to do what Jesus did. Did the blind guy pray for help? It took decades for God to answer, if he did pray (and I figure he would be praying a lot). Why so long? Because it was in God’s will that this thing would happen.
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (John 9:1–5, ESV)

Jesus says this guy hadn’t sinned. Neither had his parents, that the punishment would be blindness. The blind guy was participating in the plan of God, that “the works of God might be displayed in Him.” God’s will was that the guy wouldn’t have his sight for a while because he was going to help show the works of God. Jesus was working for God (or with God) to do the will of God too, as He has repeatedly stated. Now, this is a hard thing, and I have no easy words to say about it. It is extremely hard to consider that some things that hurt or make our lives harder are in the will of God. To stay believing in God even though we are suffering is a challenge, to say the least. We can be comforted that our lives are short, and eternity is long, and we won’t always be suffering. Our God is loving and merciful, and all of His plans have or will have wonderful outcomes that we may not be able to see at the moment. That doesn’t make the suffering much easier, but it does give us purpose and hope. Later it will bring us rewards if we don’t get discouraged and give up.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Hebrews 12:3–4, ESV)

There is one prayer at least that God will hear from anyone, and that is the prayer of repentance. We can all talk to God if we are repenting of sinful behavior or thoughts. He hears and forgives, because of the blood of His only begotten Son Jesus the Christ. He’s very loving that way, and has no trouble hearing the pleas of people who desire to stop going their own way and go His. So if we become a “worshiper of God” and “do His will” then God continues to listen.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1–2, ESV)

So a ‘sinner’ is one who does not worship God and doesn’t do God’s will. This brings us to the second question, “What is God’s will?” It is given to us all through the Bible, and if you were paying attention it’s in the verse above. His will is the Law. The Law is any word from Him, but yes it includes what some call the Mosaic Law. If we repent of going our own way, and follow God’s, we may stumble or do something wrong we don’t know about. But that is not the same thing as a man who keeps his back turned to God. If we face Him, and walk in His will, we can ask of Him and He will grant our requests.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:9–10, ESV)

Though we might not be sinners, sin still gets in the way of God listening to us. It’s like a cloud over the sun, or mosquitoes that chase you away from a barbecue. We can hardly expect God to answer us when we are doing something out of His will, or when we do things outside of His will and we experience consequences. For instance, if we steal a car and hurt someone the penalty for those crimes has to be paid. I once was asked by a woman to pray for her son. He was facing jail time for riding in a stolen car and using stolen credit cards while smoking weed. Her intent was that God would somehow help him avoid jail. I asked her, “What makes you think I haven’t already been praying? And what makes you think that jail time isn’t an answer to prayer? What about the people he wronged? How is he going to make reparations?” She was nonplussed and couldn’t respond. Later I think she realized that maybe the jail time was in God’s will. He only spent six weeks or so in there, and I think it was good for him to see where he was going if he didn’t stop his criminal tendencies. He hasn’t been back, anyway. So far.

So many people tell us that all an individual has to do is raise a hand and “go forward” in a church and we will become a worshiper of God and be saved. This in direct contradiction to the explicit messages from God recorded for us in the Bible concerning the method of salvation. The guy born blind knew the method, and tells us so for the umpteenth time. The person that God listens to, over and above a prayer of repentance, is one who “worships” Him and “does His will.”
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:6, ESV)

Can one be a worshiper of God and not do God’s will? Yes. There are believers who are unknowing about God’s will. Perhaps they’ve gotten bad teaching from leaders who have no intention of actually following God. They might be uncertain as to how to determine God’s will. But there are some who worship God (or say they worship) after a fashion and will not do His will, plainly revealed in the Bible He made sure was delivered to us through great trials. If we are not with God, then God is not with us.
The Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded, and he went out to meet Asa and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin: The LORD is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you. For a long time Israel was without the true God, and without a teaching priest and without law, but when in their distress they turned to the LORD, the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found by them. (2 Chronicles 15:1–4, ESV)

Let us turn to the Lord, the God of Israel, and seek Him. In humility seek His will in all things, believing and trusting that He will hear and grant our requests though we are not worthy. Know that God will listen to those whose hearts belong to Him, who resist evil and hunger and thirst after His righteousness. If He doesn't answer, double check your life to make sure you are doing God's will. If you confess and repent, keep praying, but not to spend it on your passions. Pray according to His will and it will be answered.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (John 15:16, ESV)

Shalom
Bruce
Bruce Scott Bertram - http://www.wholebible.com
War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory.
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Bruce Bertram
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