And as soon as he had finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split apart. 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.
This was the most significant rebellion yet in Israel. It was not so much against Moses as it was against God as is made clear in this chapter. That is why this dramatic judgment falls on Korah and his household. He thought he could lead a coalition of new leaders to replace Aaron and his sons and overthrow God’s choice for priests and leaders in Israel. God answered pretty dramatically with this sinkhole that sucked away all traces of the rebellion!
And all those who followed Korah in spiritual rebellion were consumed by fire that torched all those who thought they could offer incense instead of Aaron’s sons. And then a plague supernaturally spread through the camp quickly killing off another 14,700 people. This was significant and attention-getting. God once again confirmed to a stubborn people that He was in control and that the methods and men He had chosen were best.
It bothers me when I secretly wish that this kind of judgment were quickly evident today. I am hurt when I hear other Christians talk this way. I would much rather know deep mercy and grace in Christ. But there is a day when this sort of dramatically visible confirmation of God’s rulership over man’s rebellion will be seen again (2 Peter 3:9-10). It is clear that God’s patience and mercy have reserved the expression of His outward wrath and judgment for that future time. He is sovereign. That is His plan. And I will faithfully seek to live and preach the gospel so that repentance might come to some. Seeing Korah and company swallowed up into Hell today is not a pleasant vision. The trauma of that reality in the past compels me with the gospel reality in the present.