The amazing story of Numbers 16 in a nutshell …
Korah (a Levite) and his friends Dathan and Abiram, along with 250 thugs accused Moses, “You’re making yourself a king. In God’s eyes , no one’s more special than anyone else.”
Moses answered, “I didn’t put myself in charge; God did. And he’ll show you in the morning. And what are you complaining about? Hasn’t he exalted you, Korah, and your fellow Levites when he called you to minister at the temple and to be a bridge between him and the people? Tomorrow, every one of you bring a censer with fire in it to present to the Lord. Aaron will, too. Then God will show us whom he chooses.”
Moses sent invitations to Dathan and Abiram, who were not Levites. They wouldn’t come, but they did send a message: “You’re a bad man. We had it good in Egypt, but you’ve led us into poverty.”
Then Moses was angry. So was the Lord. He told Moses and Aaron. “Leave! I’m going to destroy this whole nation, and I don’t want you to get hurt.”
But Moses and Aaron begged him not to. God backed off a bit, but he was still determined to deal with the instigators. So, since Dathan and Abiram wouldn’t come to him, Moses--and everybody else--went to them. But they didn’t get too close.
Dathan and Abiram and Korah and their families came outside and stood on their porches in defiance. Moses announced to the crowd, "If God himself hasn’t chosen me, then these men will die a natural death, but if the earth swallows them up, then you’ll know that these guys are messing not with me, but with God himself.”
The earth complied. It opened, swallowed the trouble-makers, their wives, their children, their homes and possessions, and then closed up again. The crowd was terrified and quickly scattered.
What of the 250 thugs? While they were presenting their fiery censers, God presented his fire in the opposite direction, and all that was left were 250 censers.
Did Israel finally get it? Ha ha! That’s a good one! The next day they accused Moses and Aaron of killing some good people. The Lord responded by renewing his threat to decimate the nation, and he started a plague on the camp’s outskirts that quickly began claiming lives.
At Moses’ direction, Aaron grabbed his burning censer, and ran quickly to the spreading plague where he placed himself between the living and the dead, “and the plague was stopped.”
Total casualties: 14,700