And Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, made bold … and they rose up against Moses. (Numbers 16:1-2)
And the earth opened its mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households. (Numbers 16:32)
NUMBERS: DISCIPLINED TO SERVE
God had brought His people out of Egypt and into the wilderness to teach them to be fully dependent on Him, preparing them to serve Him. The preparation was necessary, for although they were delivered from Egypt and slavery, yet fleshly impulses would seek to intrude in divine things.
So the preparation had to be balanced with discipline. Nadab and Abihu had known the requirements but had employed their own fleshly methods which resulted in their deaths (Lev. 10). God therefore employed various means to discipline His people, controlling fleshly behavior. We notice quite a number of deaths resulting from fleshly directed activity.
There are two censuses recorded in the book of Numbers. The first taken a full year after departure from Egypt, enumerated those who were twenty years of age or above and totaled 603,550 persons capable of going to war (Num. 1:46). Thirty-eight years after, the second similar census totaled 601,730 persons capable of going to war (Num. 26:51). When we realize that of all those who came out of Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb were permitted entry into the Promised Land, we are astounded at the incredible number of persons who died in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:5-8).
The disciplinary measures taken by God against His ancient people are still seen today, for those that the Lord loves He necessarily rebukes and chastens (Heb. 12:6; Rev. 3:19), that they may be partakers of His holiness (Heb. 12:10, 11) and that they may not be consumed with the world (1 Cor. 11:30-32). God disciplines His servants that they may serve Him acceptably.