- Notice Moses’ and Aaron’s reaction to the people’s discontent (verse 6).
What did God desire to achieve through this incident?
See verses 6, 8, 12. How did Moses and Aaron fail, and in what terms is their failure described?
See verses 10, 12, 24; cf. 27:14; Deut. 32:51.
- God’s anger with Moses and Aaron may at first seem to us out of proportion to the extent of their failure. What ought we to learn from this?
What ought we also to learn from the fact that ‘rash words’ (Ps. 106:33) came from ‘humble’ (12:3)Moses’ lips?
- Israel’s reaction to adversity gets a little monotonous (verse 5), and it is easy to say, ‘Why cannot they learn to trust God?’
But are not we often as unbelieving?
Notice how Jesus uses this story (verses 6-9) as a ‘type’ in John 3:14; 15.
What parallels are there in the condition of the afflicted and in the means of salvation in each case?
Why a serpent on the pole? Cf. 2.Cor.5:21.
- It is worth tracing Israel’s journey on a map from 20:1 onwards. Notice how circuitous it was.
What evidence is there, as against 20:2, 3 and 21:4, 5, that Israel was learning trust and obedience through discipline?
What discipline? Cf. Deut. 8:2.
- What does 18:8-32 teach us about offerings that are holy and belong by right to God?
- What are the special features of the sacrifice described in 19:1-10?
Note the use to which the ashes were put (19:9, 12, 17-19).
What are the ‘dead works’ from which we need to be purified?
- 18:19. ‘An everlasting covenant of salt’: i.e., an indissoluble covenant. Cf. 2 Chr. 13:5.
- 19:9, 12, 17-19. The cleansing virtue of the sacrifice already made was thus symbolically stored up and applied, as need arose, to the unclean. Cf. Heb. 9:13, 14; 1 John 1:7-9.
- How is the exclusive Aaronite priesthood strengthened and confirmed?
What does the service of the priesthood involve?
Notice especially 16:48, and compare the work of Christ as great High Priest. Cf. Heb. 5:1, 9, 10; 7:25-28; 9:11, 12, 26.
- How could our service be transformed by thinking of it as a gift (18:7)?
Cf. 1 Tim. 1:12-14; 2 Tim. 1:6.
- There is evidence here of a double revolt: one by Korah (a Levite) ‘and all his company’ against Moses and Aaron; and one by Dathan and Abiram (Reubenites) against Moses.
What was the ground of complaint in each case? See 16:3 and 16:13, 14.
To what extent was it justified?
Cf. Heb. 5:4; 2 Cor.10:18.
- What lay behind the revolts that made them serious enough so drastic a punishment and warning to the people? See especially verses 11, 19, 28, 30.
Note. Verse 1.That such men should lead an open revolt against the authority of Moses and Aaron meant that it was a very serious outbreak of discontent.
- What do verses 1-21 teach us about making offerings which are pleasing to God?
- Why was there no way of atonement for the person who sinned ‘defiantly’?
What does this mean?
Cf. Mark 3:28, 29; Heb. 10:26-31, 39; Ps. 19:13.
- Notice by whom the deliberate law-breaker had to be dealt with and in what way.
Cf. Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5; Heb. 12:15.
Why is such church discipline so little is practiced?
Note. Verse 38. ‘Tassels’: these were made of twisted thread and attached by a blue ribbon to the robe, to remind the wearer of the commandments of the Lord, and of his obligation to keep them.
- What can we learn from Moses’ prayer, especially concerning governing motives and grounds of appeal to God?
- Although forgiven, the people suffered the consequences of their sin.
In what way do they show themselves throughout this story (Num. 13 and 14) to be typical of us?