Mar 6 (Daily reading: Numbers 26-27) Today’s commentary presents a warning. A new census of the fighting men 20 years of age and older was taken, and the number was 601,730 (Num. 26:51). In the first census, the number was 603,550 (Num. 1:46). We read concerning this original group: “But among these there was not a man of those who were numbered by Moses and Aaron … For the LORD had said of them, “They shall certainly die in the wilderness.” And not a man was left of them, except Caleb…and Joshua…” (26:64-65). More than 600,000 died in the wilderness because of their unbelief.
Among those who died were Korah and his followers. They took their unbelief to the level of rebellion, thinking their way was equal to God’s way. Moses wrote that “they fought against the LORD, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up along with Korah, when that group died, when the fire devoured 250 men, so that they became a warning sign” (26:9-10). God allowed that some would die in their rebellion so that they would become a sign to others. God does not tolerate idolatry; those who died had made themselves to be gods, which, as you remember, was exactly what Satan did!
Signs are mentioned throughout the Bible, but rarely do we read that a person was a sign. Here, Korah is presented as a negative sign, a warning sign. In contrast, Jesus came as a sign of hope: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will name Him Immanuel” (Is. 7:14). This was fulfilled in the angel’s announcement of a sign in the birth of a baby: “There has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:11).
– Al Gary