This has been a bad posting week for me! Once again, I forgot about my day to post, and then I left for hockey provincials.... Anyway, here it is finally.
I didn't get very far into our Numbers passage before I came to a verse that made me stop and investigate a bit more thoroughly. And what I found was an amazing picture of redemption, forgiveness, and grace.
Numbers 26:9-11 9 The sons of Eliab: Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram. These are the Dathan and Abiram,chosen from the congregation, who contended against Moses and Aaron in the company of Korah, when they contended against the Lord 10 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, when the fire devoured 250 men, and they became a warning. 11 But the sons of Korah did not die.
I thought the sons of Korah died. Didn't the Bible say their entire households were swallowed up by the earth? Not quite. Going back to Numbers 16 we find......
27 So they got away from the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. And Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones...... 32 And the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods.
Notice that verse 27 specifically talks about the wives and children of Dathan and Abiram, but does not say the same about Korah. The ESV talks about the "people who belonged to Korah", while the NASB says the "men" who belonged to Korah.
And our passage today confirms it again - the sons of Korah did not die.
We don't know for sure. Perhaps Korah's adults sons were faithful to God, and did not support their father's rebellion - this would be in line with other passages that speak on God not holding the sins of the fathers against the sons. Or perhaps God showed unmerited grace to these sons. We don't know for sure.
But what we do know is that it is is a beautiful picture of redemption, grace and forgiveness. The sons of Korah received their positions back, and more! Further in the biblical narrative, we see the sons of Korah given greater responsibility by King David, and they also become poets, writing several of the Psalms.
I found a commentary that pointed out this detail I had never connected to this before.......
Every so often these psalms of Korah’s sons take an autobiographical turn that leaves me breathless with wonder at the profound gratitude rising from the image itself. I discovered one of these treasures just recently. I was reflecting on Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way…”
A strong metaphor…for anyone except the sons of Korah. For them, the earth actually once had given way. The earth moved so decisively that it swallowed up their entire disaffected family. In writing Psalm 46, might they have been living in the memory of their familial rescue? In some dramatic fashion that remains veiled in this family’s history, God had been their refuge and strength on a day when the earth really did open up. So now, when I hear the Sons of Korah say there is no cause to fear—even in the midst of unprecedented human trauma—I listen with different ears.
And from now on, so will I!
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage: Numbers 29-31; Mark 9:1-29