Numbers 16:46-48 – So Moses said to Aaron, "Take a censer and put fire in it from the altar, put incense on it, and take it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from the Lord. The plague has begun." Then Aaron took it as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the assembly; and already the plague had begun among the people. So he put in the incense and made atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; so the plague was stopped. (NKJV)
A rebellion was brewing. Two hundred and fifty Israelite leaders weren't happy with Moses and Aaron leading them. They questioned Moses about why he and Aaron elevated themselves above the rest of the congregation.
God responded by telling Moses and Aaron, "Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment." (Numbers 16:21) Moses obeyed and he told the congregation, "Depart now from the tents of these wicked men!" (Numbers 16:26)
God caused the earth to open up and swallow these 250 rebels, and all of them perished. The next day the congregation complained against Moses and Aaron. God permitted a plague to break out amongst the congregation; 14,700 people died. Moses told Aaron to make atonement for the people's sin, and the minute that Aaron did, the plague stopped.
Like the leaders in Israel who rebelled against God's authority, we too rebel against God's authority every time we sin. In fact, we were born in rebellion to God and we are under the same judgment that the leaders of Israel and the congregation faced.
But two thousand years ago, the atonement for our sins carried a cross to Calvary. His name was Jesus. He loved us so much that he allowed himself to be nailed to it and then to die so that the plague we face can be stopped.
Prayer: Father, thank you for sending your only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for our sin. In Jesus' name. Amen.