Bible Society of South Africa

To The Word – Day 38

Numbers 16–19, 1 Corinthians 3–4

Bible text(s)

The Rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram

1-2Korah son of Izhar, from the Levite clan of Kohath, rebelled against the leadership of Moses. He was joined by three members of the tribe of Reuben — Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth — and by 250 other Israelites, well-known leaders chosen by the community. 3They assembled before Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! All the members of the community belong to the LORD, and the LORD is with all of us. Why, then, Moses, do you set yourself above the LORD's community?”

4When Moses heard this, he threw himself on the ground and prayed. 5Then he said to Korah and his followers, “Tomorrow morning the LORD will show us who belongs to him; he will let the one who belongs to him, that is, the one he has chosen, approach him at the altar. 6-7Tomorrow morning you and your followers take firepans, put live coals and incense on them, and take them to the altar. Then we will see which of us the LORD has chosen. You Levites are the ones who have gone too far!”

8Moses continued to speak to Korah. “Listen, you Levites! 9Do you consider it a small matter that the God of Israel has set you apart from the rest of the community, so that you can approach him, perform your service in the LORD's Tent, and minister to the community and serve them? 10He has let you and all the other Levites have this honour — and now you are trying to get the priesthood too! 11When you complain against Aaron, it is really against the LORD that you and your followers are rebelling.”

12Then Moses sent for Dathan and Abiram, but they said, “We will not come! 13Isn't it enough that you have brought us out of the fertile land of Egypt to kill us here in the wilderness? Do you also have to lord it over us? 14You certainly have not brought us into a fertile land or given us fields and vineyards as our possession, and now you are trying to deceive us. We will not come!”

15Moses was angry and said to the LORD, “Do not accept any offerings these men bring. I have not wronged any of them; I have not even taken one of their donkeys.”

16Moses said to Korah, “Tomorrow you and your 250 followers must come to the Tent of the LORD's presence; Aaron will also be there. 17Each of you will take his firepan, put incense on it, and then present it at the altar.” 18So every man took his firepan, put live coals and incense on it, and stood at the entrance of the Tent with Moses and Aaron. 19Then Korah gathered the whole community, and they stood facing Moses and Aaron at the entrance of the Tent. Suddenly the dazzling light of the LORD's presence appeared to the whole community, 20and the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 21“Stand back from these people, and I will destroy them immediately.”

22But Moses and Aaron bowed down with their faces to the ground and said, “O God, you are the source of all life. When one person sins, do you get angry with the whole community?”

23The LORD said to Moses, 24“Tell the people to move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”

25Then Moses, accompanied by the leaders of Israel, went to Dathan and Abiram. 26He said to the people, “Stand away from the tents of these wicked men and don't touch anything that belongs to them. Otherwise, you will be wiped out with them for all their sins.” 27So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.

Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing at the entrance of their tents, with their wives and children. 28Moses said to the people, “This is how you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these things and that it is not by my own choice that I have done them. 29If these men die a natural death without some punishment from God, then the LORD did not send me. 30But if the LORD does something unheard of, and the earth opens up and swallows them with all they own, so that they go down alive to the world of the dead, you will know that these men have rejected the LORD.”

31As soon as he had finished speaking, the ground under Dathan and Abiram split open 32and swallowed them and their families, together with all of Korah's followers and their possessions. 33So they went down alive to the world of the dead, with their possessions. The earth closed over them, and they vanished. 34All the people of Israel who were there fled when they heard their cry. They shouted, “Run! The earth might swallow us too!”

35Then the LORD sent a fire that blazed out and burnt up the 250 men who had presented the incense.

The Firepans

36Then the LORD said to Moses, 37“Tell Eleazar son of Aaron the priest to remove the bronze firepans from the remains of the men who have been burnt, and scatter the coals from the firepans somewhere else, because the firepans are holy. 38They became holy when they were presented at the LORD's altar. So take the firepans of these men who were put to death for their sin, beat them into thin plates, and make a covering for the altar. It will be a warning to the people of Israel.” 39So Eleazar the priest took the firepans and had them beaten into thin plates to make a covering for the altar. 40This was a warning to the Israelites that no one who was not a descendant of Aaron should come to the altar to burn incense for the LORD. Otherwise he would be destroyed like Korah and his men. All this was done as the LORD had commanded Eleazar through Moses.

Aaron Saves the People

41The next day the whole community complained against Moses and Aaron and said, “You have killed some of the LORD's people.” 42After they had all gathered to protest to Moses and Aaron, they turned towards the Tent and saw that the cloud was covering it and that the dazzling light of the LORD's presence had appeared. 43Moses and Aaron went and stood in front of the Tent, 44and the LORD said to Moses, 45“Stand back from these people, and I will destroy them on the spot!”

The two of them bowed down with their faces to the ground, 46and Moses said to Aaron, “Take your firepan, put live coals from the altar in it, and put some incense on the coals. Then hurry with it to the people and perform the ritual of purification for them. Hurry! The LORD's anger has already broken out and an epidemic has already begun.” 47Aaron obeyed, took his firepan and ran into the middle of the assembled people. When he saw that the plague had already begun, he put the incense on the coals and performed the ritual of purification for the people. 48This stopped the plague, and he was left standing between the living and the dead. 49The number of people who died was 14,700, not counting those who died in Korah's rebellion. 50When the plague had stopped, Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance of the Tent.

Numbers 16GNBOpen in Bible reader

Aaron's Stick

1The LORD said to Moses, 2“Tell the people of Israel to give you twelve sticks, one from the leader of each tribe. Write each man's name on his stick 3and then write Aaron's name on the stick representing Levi. There will be one stick for each tribal leader. 4Take them to the Tent of my presence and put them in front of the Covenant Box, where I meet you. 5Then the stick of the man I have chosen will sprout. In this way I will put a stop to the constant complaining of these Israelites against you.”

6So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and each of their leaders gave him a stick, one for each tribe, twelve in all, and Aaron's stick was put with them. 7Moses then put all the sticks in the Tent in front of the LORD's Covenant Box.

8The next day, when Moses went into the Tent, he saw that Aaron's stick, representing the tribe of Levi, had sprouted. It had budded, blossomed, and produced ripe almonds! 9Moses took all the sticks and showed them to the Israelites. They saw what had happened, and each leader took his own stick back. 10The LORD said to Moses, “Put Aaron's stick back in front of the Covenant Box. It is to be kept as a warning to the rebel Israelites that they will die unless their complaining stops.” 11Moses did as the LORD commanded.

12The people of Israel said to Moses, “Then that's the end of us! 13If anyone who even comes near the Tent must die, then we are all as good as dead!”

Numbers 17GNBOpen in Bible reader

Duties of Priests and Levites

1The LORD said to Aaron, “You, your sons, and the Levites must suffer the consequences of any guilt connected with serving in the Tent of my presence; but only you and your sons will suffer the consequences of service in the priesthood. 2Bring in your relatives, the tribe of Levi, to work with you and help you while you and your sons are serving at the Tent. 3They are to fulfil their duties to you and their responsibilities for the Tent, but they must not have any contact with sacred objects in the Holy Place or with the altar. If they do, both they and you will be put to death. 4They are to work with you and fulfil their responsibilities for all the service in the Tent, but no unqualified person may work with you. 5You and your sons alone must fulfil the responsibilities for the Holy Place and the altar, so that my anger will not again break out against the people of Israel. 6I am the one who has chosen your relatives the Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you. They are dedicated to me, so that they can carry out their duties in the Tent. 7But you and your sons alone shall fulfil all the responsibilities of the priesthood that concern the altar and what is in the Most Holy Place. These things are your responsibility, because I have given you the gift of the priesthood. Any unqualified person who comes near the sacred objects shall be put to death.”

The Share of the Priests

8The LORD said to Aaron, “Remember that I am giving you all the special contributions made to me that are not burnt as sacrifices. I am giving them to you and to your descendants as the part assigned to you for ever. 9Of the most sacred offerings not burnt on the altar, the following belong to you: the grain offerings, the sin offerings, and the repayment offerings. Everything that is presented to me as a sacred offering belongs to you and your sons. 10You must eat these things in a holy place, and only males may eat them; consider them holy.

11“In addition, any other special contributions that the Israelites present to me shall be yours. I am giving them to you, your sons, and your daughters for all time to come. Every member of your family who is ritually clean may eat them.

12“I am giving you all the best of the first produce which the Israelites give me each year: olive oil, wine, and corn. 13It all belongs to you. Every member of your family who is ritually clean may eat it.

14“Everything in Israel that has been unconditionally dedicated to me belongs to you.

15“Every firstborn child or animal that the Israelites present to me belongs to you. But you must accept payment to buy back every firstborn child, and must also accept payment for every firstborn animal that is ritually unclean. 16Children shall be bought back at the age of one month for the fixed price of five pieces of silver, according to the official standard. 17But the firstborn of cows, sheep, and goats are not to be bought back; they belong completely to me and are to be sacrificed. Throw their blood against the altar and burn their fat as a food offering, a smell pleasing to me. 18The meat from them belongs to you, like the breast and the right hind leg of the special offering.

19“I am giving to you, to your sons, and to your daughters, for all time to come, all the special contributions which the Israelites present to me. This is an unbreakable covenant that I have made with you and your descendants.”

20The LORD said to Aaron, “You will not receive any property that can be inherited, and no part of the land of Israel will be assigned to you. I, the LORD, am all you need.”

The Share of the Levites

21The LORD said, “I have given to the Levites every tithe that the people of Israel present to me. This is in payment for their service in taking care of the Tent of my presence. 22The other Israelites must no longer approach the Tent and in this way bring on themselves the penalty of death. 23From now on only the Levites will take care of the Tent and bear the full responsibility for it. This is a permanent rule that applies also to your descendants. The Levites shall have no permanent property in Israel, 24because I have given to them as their possession the tithe which the Israelites present to me as a special contribution. That is why I told them that they would have no permanent property in Israel.”

The Levites' Tithe

25The LORD commanded Moses 26to say to the Levites: “When you receive from the Israelites the tithe that the LORD gives you as your possession, you must present a tenth of it as a special contribution to the LORD. 27This special contribution will be considered as the equivalent of the offering which the farmer makes of new corn and new wine. 28In this way you also will present the special contribution that belongs to the LORD from all the tithes which you receive from the Israelites. You are to give this special contribution for the LORD to Aaron the priest. 29Give it from the best that you receive. 30When you have presented the best part, you may keep the rest, just as the farmer keeps what is left after he makes his offering. 31You and your families may eat the rest anywhere, because it is your wages for your service in the Tent. 32You will not become guilty when you eat it, as long as you have presented the best of it to the LORD. But be sure not to profane the sacred gifts of the Israelites by eating any of the gifts before the best part is offered; if you do, you will be put to death.”

Numbers 18GNBOpen in Bible reader

Ashes of the Red Cow

1The LORD commanded Moses and Aaron 2to give the Israelites the following regulations. Bring to Moses and Aaron a red cow which has no defects and which has never been put to work, 3and they will give it to Eleazar the priest. It is to be taken outside the camp and killed in his presence. 4Then Eleazar is to take some of its blood and with his finger sprinkle it seven times in the direction of the Tent. 5The whole animal, including skin, meat, blood, and intestines, is to be burnt in the presence of the priest. 6Then he is to take some cedar wood, a sprig of hyssop, and a red cord and throw them into the fire. 7After that, he is to wash his clothes and pour water over himself, and then he may enter the camp; but he remains ritually unclean until evening. 8The man who burnt the cow must also wash his clothes and pour water over himself, but he also remains unclean until evening. 9Then a man who is ritually clean is to collect the ashes of the cow and put them in a ritually clean place outside the camp, where they are to be kept for the Israelite community to use in preparing the water for removing ritual uncleanness. This ritual is performed to remove sin. 10The man who collected the ashes must wash his clothes, but he remains unclean until evening. This regulation is valid for all time to come, both for the Israelites and for the foreigners living among them.

Contact with a Corpse

11Whoever touches a corpse is ritually unclean for seven days. 12He must purify himself with the water for purification on the third day and on the seventh day, and then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on both the third and the seventh day, he will not be clean. 13Whoever touches a corpse and does not purify himself remains unclean, because the water for purification has not been thrown over him. He defiles the LORD's Tent, and he will no longer be considered one of God's people.

14If someone dies in a tent, anyone who is in the tent at the time of death or who enters it becomes ritually unclean for seven days. 15Every jar and pot in the tent that has no lid on it also becomes unclean. 16If someone touches a person who has been killed or has died a natural death out of doors or if someone touches a human bone or a grave, he becomes unclean for seven days.

17To remove the uncleanness, some ashes from the red cow which was burnt to remove sin shall be taken and put in a pot, and fresh water added. 18In the first case, someone who is ritually clean is to take a sprig of hyssop, dip it in the water, and sprinkle the tent, everything in it, and the people who were there. In the second case, someone who is ritually clean is to sprinkle the water on the man who had touched the human bone or the dead body or the grave. 19On the third day and on the seventh the person who is ritually clean is to sprinkle the water on the unclean person. On the seventh day he is to purify the man, who, after washing his clothes and pouring water over himself, becomes ritually clean at sunset.

20Anyone who has become ritually unclean and does not purify himself remains unclean, because the water for purification has not been thrown over him. He defiles the LORD's Tent and will no longer be considered one of God's people. 21You are to observe this rule for all time to come. The person who sprinkles the water for purification must also wash his clothes; anyone who touches the water remains ritually unclean until evening. 22Whatever an unclean person touches is unclean, and anyone else who touches it remains unclean until evening.

Numbers 19GNBOpen in Bible reader

Servants of God

1As a matter of fact, my brothers and sisters, I could not talk to you as I talk to people who have the Spirit; I had to talk to you as though you belonged to this world, as children in the Christian faith. 2I had to feed you with milk, not solid food, because you were not ready for it. And even now you are not ready for it, 3because you still live as the people of this world live. When there is jealousy among you and you quarrel with one another, doesn't this prove that you belong to this world, living by its standards? 4When one of you says, “I follow Paul”, and another, “I follow Apollos” — aren't you acting like worldly people?

5After all, who is Apollos? And who is Paul? We are simply God's servants, by whom you were led to believe. Each one of us does the work which the Lord gave him to do: 6I sowed the seed, Apollos watered the plant, but it was God who made the plant grow. 7The one who sows and the one who waters really do not matter. It is God who matters, because he makes the plant grow. 8There is no difference between the one who sows and the one who waters; God will reward each one according to the work each has done. 9For we are partners working together for God, and you are God's field.

You are also God's building. 10Using the gift that God gave me, I did the work of an expert builder and laid the foundation, and someone else is building on it. But each one must be careful how he builds. 11For God has already placed Jesus Christ as the one and only foundation, and no other foundation can be laid. 12Some will use gold or silver or precious stones in building on the foundation; others will use wood or grass or straw. 13And the quality of each person's work will be seen when the Day of Christ exposes it. For on that Day fire will reveal everyone's work; the fire will test it and show its real quality. 14If what was built on the foundation survives the fire, the builder will receive a reward. 15But if anyone's work is burnt up, then he will lose it; but he himself will be saved, as if he had escaped through the fire.

16Surely you know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you! 17So if anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you yourselves are his temple.

18No one should fool himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise by this world's standards, he should become a fool, in order to be really wise. 19For what this world considers to be wisdom is nonsense in God's sight. As the scripture says, “God traps the wise in their cleverness”; 20and another scripture says, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are worthless.” 21No one, then, should boast about what human beings can do. Actually everything belongs to you: 22Paul, Apollos, and Peter; this world, life and death, the present and the future — all these are yours, 23and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

1 Corinthians 3GNBOpen in Bible reader

Apostles of Christ

1You should think of us as Christ's servants, who have been put in charge of God's secret truths. 2The one thing required of such servants is that they be faithful to their master. 3Now, I am not at all concerned about being judged by you or by any human standard; I don't even pass judgement on myself. 4My conscience is clear, but that does not prove that I am really innocent. The Lord is the one who passes judgement on me. 5So you should not pass judgement on anyone before the right time comes. Final judgement must wait until the Lord comes; he will bring to light the dark secrets and expose the hidden purposes of people's minds. And then all will receive from God the praise they deserve.

6For your sake, my brothers and sisters, I have applied all this to Apollos and me, using the two of us as an example, so that you may learn what the saying means, “Observe the proper rules.” None of you should be proud of one person and despise another. 7Who made you superior to others? Didn't God give you everything you have? Well, then, how can you boast, as if what you have were not a gift?

8Do you already have everything you need? Are you already rich? Have you become kings, even though we are not? Well, I wish you really were kings, so that we could be kings together with you. 9For it seems to me that God has given the very last place to us apostles, like people condemned to die in public as a spectacle for the whole world of angels and of humanity. 10For Christ's sake we are fools; but you are wise in union with Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! We are despised, but you are honoured! 11To this very moment we go hungry and thirsty; we are clothed in rags; we are beaten; we wander from place to place; 12we wear ourselves out with hard work. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; 13when we are insulted, we answer with kind words. We are no more than this world's refuse; we are the scum of the earth to this very moment!

14I write this to you, not because I want to make you feel ashamed, but to instruct you as my own dear children. 15For even if you have 10,000 guardians in your Christian life, you have only one father. For in your life in union with Christ Jesus I have become your father by bringing the Good News to you. 16I beg you, then, to follow my example. 17For this purpose I am sending to you Timothy, who is my own dear and faithful son in the Christian life. He will remind you of the principles which I follow in the new life in union with Christ Jesus and which I teach in all the churches everywhere.

18Some of you have become proud because you have thought that I would not be coming to visit you. 19If the Lord is willing, however, I will come to you soon, and then I will find out for myself the power which these proud people have, and not just what they say. 20For the Kingdom of God is not a matter of words but of power. 21Which do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in a spirit of love and gentleness?

1 Corinthians 4GNBOpen in Bible reader
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