GOD’S WARNING TO THE CHURCH
D. M. PANTON, M. A.
is deeply significant of modern Evangelicalism that Dr. Eugene Stock, a typical
Evangelical of the last generation, wished these words omitted from the Venite in the New Prayer Book:-
"I was displeased with this generation, and said,
They do always err in their heart: they did not know my ways; as I sware in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest"
(Heb. 3: 10). But the Holy Spirit’s
answer, through Paul*, is complete and final. So far from these drastic
words applying only to
[* Paul may or may not have written Hebrews; but we are certain the Holy Spirit did through some unnamed individual; and that it is intended primarily for the Church of God. That is, for the instruction of personal righteousness and obedience of the regenerate people of God.]
Now in the mighty rebellion of Korah against Moses and Aaron, a rebellion in which Korah won a measure of sympathy from the whole people of God, one completely dominant fact, for us, is that Moses had nothing in his hand and heart but the Word of God. In the words of the Apostle John, - "The laws given by Moses" (John 1: 17): he wrote the first five books of the Bible: like Paul in the latter dispensation, he is an embodiment of the Word of God, and so stands for all those who, in every dispensation, seek to be ruled solely by the Scriptures. "The Apostle and High Priest of our confession, even Jesus," we read, "was faithful to him that appointed him, as also was Moses in all his house" (Heb. 3: 1).
we face in Korah exactly what we confront
to-day. Korah’s whole emphasis, in opposing
Moses, is lodged four-square on the divine standing of the People of God. "They assembled themselves together against Moses and against
Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you,
seeing all the congregation are holy, EVERY ONE OF THEM, and the Lord is
among them" (Num. 16: 3).
The statement was absolutely true; and it is remarkably reaffirmed by Paul, both of the type and the anti-type, both of
them and of us. "Our fathers were all
under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were
baptized unto Moses, and did all eat the same spiritual meat, and
drink the same spiritual drink: for they
drank of a spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ"
(1 Cor. 10: 1). As "our fathers",
so ourselves: the
The enormous omission of the divine supplementary truth - namely, the
structure which we build on our flawless foundation, the consequences of the walk
as distinct from the standing - Dathan and Abiram now bring into sharp relief. "Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us up out of a
THE APPEAL TO GOD
Now Moses reveals the right attitude of the holder of the Word of God, who stands for its whole truth. It is a direct appeal to God Himself. "And Moses said unto Korah, Be thou and all thy congregation before the Lord, to-morrow" - for us, the judgment seat of Christ, our to-morrow; "And Korah assembled all the congregation against them; and the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the congregation" - the invariable proof of the immediate presence of Deity. So Moses stakes all upon the decision of God alone. "If these men die the common death of all men" - and so do not incur any penal judgment whatever - "then the lord hath not sent me." If, he says, the judgment of which I have warned you does not fall, I am proved wrong: the event itself shall decide. So Paul says of us:- "Each [regenerate believer’s] work shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare it, because" - like Korah’s - "it is revealed in fire" (1 Cor. 3: 13).
Moses and Aaron, at this juncture, gave us an exquisite model. "And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment. And they fell upon their faces" - throughout the narrative Moses fell three times upon his face before God - "and said, O God, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be wroth with all the congregation?" Not only does Moses begin, continue, and end his conflict with Korah with prayer: he intercedes for others whom Korah has involved in fearful peril. There is one ominous silence. Moses does not pray for the rebellious group. It is a most remarkable forcast of the words of John:- "If any - [regenerate believer] - see his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask, and God will give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin - [that of apostasy, which only regenerate believers can commit] - unto death: not concerning this do I say that he should make request" (1 John 5: 16). One of the most wonderful answers to prayer immediately follows. On the one condition that they separated themselves from Korah and his company, Jehovah spares the entire people, at the cry of the very men against whom the congregation had rebelled. Two men save two millions.
miraculous disasters now announce the judgment of God. Moses had hardly finished speaking,
announcing judgment, when "the earth opened her
mouth, and swallowed them up; and all
Paul’s application stands for all time, for all who have ears to hear. "Neither murmur ye, as some of them murmured and perished by the destroyer: for these things happened unto them" - public death - "by way of example (1 Cor. 10: 11); and were written for our admonition: wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10: 10). HE WHO PRESUMES ON HIS STANDING IS CERTAIN TO FALL IN HIS WALK. And most significantly, in the chapter immediately following, Paul says:- "For this cause" - misuse of the Lord’s Supper - "many among you are weak and sickly, and NOT A FEW SLEEP"; and he carefully confines this particular capital punishment - silently inflicted by the hand of God Himself - TO THE REGENERATE: "When we are judged, we are chastened of the lord, that we may not be condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11: 32). So elsewhere also the Apostle makes the consequent warning of God as explicit as it could be made, by the direct application of the type:- "Toward them that fell severity; but toward thee God’s goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: OTHERWISE THOU ALSO SHALT BE CUT OFF" (Rom. 11: 22).*
[* That is, “cut off,” not from eternal life, but from
life in the Age to come - the ‘Rest’ that
remains for the people of God; which, if they are “considered
worthy of taking part in that
age” (Luke 20: 35. cf. Matt. 5: 20), will share a rest with all creation
during the Millennium. It is a future
rest typified by the “Sabbath 7th day” (Col. 2: 17. cf. Matt.
16: 28 -17: 1; 2 Pet. 3: 8.) and the
So now, though gathered before the Heavenly Zion, and to no quaking earthly Mount, we are warned that we approach a burning universe, consumed by the fire that consumed the murmurers of Israel: "Wherefore let us offer service with reverence and awe; FOR OUR GOD IS A CONSUMING FIRE" (Heb. 12: 28). At the First Advent, a Saviour stood on the threshold; at the Second Advent, it is a Judge who stands on the threshold; and in a tremendous utterance the Apostle James (5: 9) uses words exactly fitting to-day:- "Murmur not, brethren, one against another, that ye be not judged: BEHOLD, THE JUDGE STANDETH BEFORE THE DOORS."
"All Hell confronts us: can we conquer? Our Lord answers: ‘I have given you authority’ - power derived from Himself - 'over all the power' - the dynamic force - 'of the enemy' (Luke 10: 19). The Master of all dynamics, the Lord of all forces, the God of all worlds, has given us power: power over what? ‘All the power of the enemy.’ Not a sin is unconquerable by the power He has given us: not a devil can stand up to the power that He has given us: not a disease need stand stubborn before the power that He has given us: not a deadness, not a coldness, not an apostasy can withstand the power that He has given us. And power over whom? The master-magician of all the ages; the profoundest intelligence, the acutest intellect, the most powerful being God ever made: if we have power over Satan, there is no higher power under God’s and Hell is beneath our heel."