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41 Nevertheless, on the very next day, all of the Israelite people railed against Moses and Aaron.
Israelites: You murdered Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their families, those people of the Eternal One.
42-43 When the congregation gathered to attack them, Moses and Aaron headed for the congregation tent and stood in front of it. The cloud was there, and the brilliance of the Eternal’s presence was obvious to all. 44 There, the Eternal One spoke to Moses.
Eternal One: 45 Stay clear of this rebellious lot because I am going to devour them right now.
Moses and Aaron fell to the ground, hoping to abate God’s anger.
Moses (to Aaron): 46 Hurry, light your censer off of the altar’s flame, put incense on the flame, and bring it out into the midst of the congregation to cover their sins! The Eternal One’s anger has already headed into the crowd, carrying plague and destruction with it.
47 So Aaron rushed into the crowd with his sacred censer, even as people had already begun to suffer the plague. He stood there covering their sins with the incense smoke, 48 and where he stood, the plague stopped—dead people on one side, the living on the other. 49 Thus the plague ended as swiftly as it had begun, but a full 14,700 died that day, in addition to all those who died in the Korah affair. 50 Then Aaron walked back to join Moses in front of the congregation tent since the plague had stopped.
17 The Eternal One continued.
Eternal One (to Moses): 2-3 Tell the Israelites that you’ll need twelve staffs—one for each of the extended families. Engrave on each one the respective leader’s name. (Aaron’s name should be on the Levi family’s staff.) 4 Bring the staff of each of them into the congregation tent and lay them in front of My tablets of witness with you in the place where I meet you. 5 I will indicate the person whom I choose by making his particular staff grow shoots and leaves. This will end once and for all any complaints about your leadership.
6-7 Moses passed these instructions on to the Israelites, and they all agreed to do it. They each gave their staffs as leaders representing their extended families with Aaron’s staff among them. Then Moses placed them before the Eternal One in the tent of the congregation and before the covenant. 8 The next day, when Moses went into the tent where the covenant was kept, it was obvious that Aaron of the Levite family was God’s choice. Aaron’s staff had grown not only little buds, but it had actually flowered and developed fully-ripened almonds. 9 Moses carried the staffs out of the Eternal’s presence, showed them to the congregation, and redistributed them to the twelve leaders.
Eternal One (to Moses): 10 Return Aaron’s staff to the tent and place it in front of the covenant, to serve as a reminder of whom I’ve chosen to lead this people. Let it be a warning to any who would question or undermine your leadership. I have made My choice clear and will kill anyone who persists in challenging it.
11 So Moses returned Aaron’s staff to the tent just as the Eternal told him to do.
The rod or staff is a symbol of guidance, protection, and power. At this time, the people are confused and afraid because the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram—followed by their sudden and absolute judgment—has caused the Israelites to think hard about their situation. Remember they said in response to God’s judgment, “What if the earth swallows us up too?” They are truly in awe of God. Immediately after this upheaval, God establishes the leadership of Aaron and his successors using the staff of Aaron. Only his staff and not those of the other leaders is affected. His staff not only buds but it bears fruit—almonds. Like the symbols of the testimony and the manna, the staff is a memorial for the people. With the staff, they are reminded that the Lord provides and protects.
Israelites (to Moses): 12 We’re going to die! We will be destroyed! 13 If anyone comes close to the tent where the Eternal One is supposed to meet with us, then he’ll die. Will we all die, then?
18 Eternal One (to Aaron): It’s on you and your sons and your extended family that the responsibility for this sanctuary lies. Any offense against the sacred meeting place, whether the sanctuary or the priesthood, is to be born by the members of your ancestral house. 2 So gather your extended family, your immediate family and those belonging to your staff, the tribe of Levi, so that they understand you’re all in this together. Your brothers from the greater Levi family will assist you while you and your sons come up to the tent holding the covenant. 3-5 Those Levites will answer to you and help out with the tent as a whole, but they absolutely may not touch the vessels of the sacred place or approach its altar. If they do, they and you will die. Also, an outsider may not approach you. This way, the whole congregation will be forever spared My destructive fury. 6 So I hereby appoint, as your assistants, your fellow Levites out of all of the Israelites. I give them to you as persons set apart for Me to do what is necessary for the maintenance of this congregation tent. 7 That way, you and your sons will be free to carefully attend the altar and My dwelling place behind the veil, which is forbidden to everyone else. Think of it as a kind of gift for the whole people, since it is fatal for anyone else to approach My sacred space.
Since the Levitical tribe inherits God Himself rather than a territory of land that they can farm and have for livestock, they are given a portion of the meat, grain, and drink offerings offered up by the people.
Eternal One (continuing to Aaron): 8 As for you in particular, everything people give to Me for all time, I put you in charge of and give to you and your sons as a priestly portion as a perpetual decree. 9 When anything the people give as an offering to Me isn’t burnt in its entirety, you will keep it—as the most holy items from the grain offerings, the sin or guilt offerings. All of this is most sacred to you and your sons. 10 While recognizing its holiness, you and every Levite male should go ahead and eat it in the most holy place. 11 Also, I am giving as a perpetual decree to you, your sons and daughters, too, whatever people raise up in offering to Me. Whoever is ritually pure from your house may eat from those offerings. 12 That includes, of course, the very best items—oil, wine, grain, and produce. Whatever people bring by way of offerings to Me, I give to you. 13-14 The first of the harvest and anything which is set aside for Me shall be yours; any in your family can eat from it, so long as he or she is ritually pure. 15-16 Likewise, the firstborn of men or animals, which are of course Mine, I hereby pass on to you. For the firstborn sons and ritually unclean animals should not be sacrificed; rather the people should simply pay five coins (calculated as the value of a one-month-old), each worth the two ounces (according to the sanctuary standard). 17 As for the other animals, the firstborn of a cow, a sheep, or a goat, you shall carry through on their sacrifice. They are indeed holy to Me. Make sure to throw some of their blood on the altar and incinerate their fat because it is to Me a soothing aroma. 18 You can have the meat itself, though, just as you get to have the breast of an uplifted offering and the right thigh too. 19 Everything sanctified and offered by the Israelites to Me, I am giving to you and your sons and your daughters as a perpetual decree. This is a binding agreement for all time—a covenant of salt, made in the presence of Me and preserved for you and your descendants after you.
20 (continuing to Aaron) And you’ll need these things because you are not allowed to own land or any part of it in the place I’ve promised. Rather, I am your portion and possession among the Israelites. 21-24 Your family, the Levites, shall not have any property, but they shall have what the Israelites bring to My tent as a tenth portion. Because the Levites alone can approach the congregation tent without dying and must do so to perform the necessary maintenance, but have no land of their own, they get to keep a tenth of the Israelites’ offerings.
25 (to Moses) 26 Tell the Levites that they should set aside a tenth portion of what they get from the Israelites’ sacrifices to give back to Me. In other words, they must give a tenth offering of the tenth offering given to them from the people of Israel. 27 Tell them, “This portion will be counted as your gift to Me, as if it is all the grain harvested and threshed and all the wine pressed and decanted. 28 In this way, you will be making an offering to Me from what you received from the Israelites (though you’ll do so by entrusting this tenth portion to the priest Aaron). 29 Out of everything you get, you should set aside the very best as a holy portion to Me. 30 After this, what’s left is absolutely yours, as if it is all the grain harvested and threshed and all the wine pressed and decanted. 31 You can eat and drink it anywhere—you and your whole household—because it’s what you’ve earned by working on behalf of the congregation tent. 32 After you’ve given up that superior portion, you may do with the rest as you wish. Just be careful that you treat the holy portion, what was set aside for Me by the Israelites, with utmost respect; or else you’ll die.”
16 1-2 At the rising of the sun, after the Sabbath on the first day of the week, the two Marys and Salome brought sweet-smelling spices they had purchased to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. 3 Along the way, they wondered to themselves how they would roll the heavy stone away from the opening. 4 But when they arrived, the stone was already rolled away in spite of its weight and size.
5 Stepping through the opening, they were startled to see a young man in a white robe seated inside and to the right.
Man in White: 6 Don’t be afraid. You came seeking Jesus of Nazareth, the One who was crucified. He is gone. He has risen. See the place where His body was laid. 7 Go back, and tell Peter and His disciples that He goes before you into Galilee, just as He said. You will see Him there when you arrive.
8 The women went out quickly; and when they were outside the tomb, they ran away trembling and astonished. Along their way, they didn’t stop to say anything to anyone because they were too afraid.
Mark finishes his Gospel in the same way he begins it—quickly, without commentary or explanation. He also finishes it in a humble way: it is the lowly women who take center stage in this greatest miracle of Jesus. The heavenly messenger sends the women with a commission to tell the disciples what has happened, making them the first preachers of the resurrection.
[9 After He rose from the dead early on Sunday,[a] Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene, a woman out of whom He had cast seven demons. 10 She brought this news back to all those who had followed Him and were still mourning and weeping, 11 but they refused to believe she had seen Jesus alive.
12 After that, Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them as they walked through the countryside, 13 and again the others did not believe it.
14 The eleven did not believe until Jesus appeared to them all as they sat at dinner. He rebuked them for their hard hearts—for their lack of faith—because they had failed to believe those witnesses who had seen Him after He had risen.
Jesus: 15 Go out into the world and share the good news with all of creation. 16 Anyone who believes this good news and is ceremonially washed[b] will be rescued, but anyone who does not believe it will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: they will be able to cast out demons in My name, speak with new tongues, 18 take up serpents, drink poison without being harmed, and lay their hands on the sick to heal them.
19 After the Lord Jesus had charged the disciples in this way, He was taken up into heaven and seated at the right hand of God. 20 The disciples went out proclaiming the good news; and the risen Lord continued working through them, confirming every word they spoke with the signs He performed through them.][c]
[And the women did everything they had been told to do, speaking to Peter and the other disciples. Later Jesus Himself commissioned the disciples to take this sacred and eternal message of salvation far to the East and the West.][d]
The remaining eleven disciples take this command as their life’s mission. According to tradition, all but one of them (John) will be killed for their refusals to stop proclaiming the truth that Jesus is the Anointed One who has been crucified and who has arisen from the dead. They dedicate their lives—and their deaths—to the proclamation of this reality. If they are not absolutely certain of the truth of Jesus’ resurrection, then why dedicate their lives to announcing it to the world?
1 Hear me, O God.
Tune Your ear to my plea,
and do not turn Your face from my prayer.
2 Give me Your attention.
Answer these sighs of sorrow;
my troubles have made me restless—I groan from anxiety
3 All because of my enemy! Because his voice speaks against me,
his wickedness torments me!
He casts down misfortune upon me;
his anger flares; his grudges grow against me.
4 My heart seizes within my chest; I am in anguish!
I am terrified my life could end on any breath.
5 I shiver and shudder in fear;
I can’t stop because this horror is just too much.
6 I said, “If only my arms were wings like the dove’s!
I would fly away from here and find rest—
7 Yes, I would venture far
and weave a nest in the wilderness.
8 “I would rush to take refuge
away from the violent storm and pounding winds.”
9 Throw them off, O Lord. Confuse their speech, and frustrate their plans,
for violence and contention are building within the city.
I can see it with my own eyes.
10 They plot day and night, scurrying the city walls like rats,
trouble and evil lurking everywhere.
11 In the heart of the city, destruction awaits.
Oppression and lies swarm the streets,
and they will not take leave; no, they will not go.
12 If it were just an enemy sneering at me,
I could take it.
If it were just someone who has always hated me, treating me like dirt,
I’d simply hide away.
13 But it is you! A man like me,
my old friend, my companion.
14 We enjoyed sweet conversation,
walking together in the house of God among the pressing crowds.
15 Let death sneak up on them,
swallow them alive into the pit of death.
Why? Because evil stirs in their homes; evil is all around them.
16 But I, I shall call upon God,
and by His word, the Eternal shall save me.
17 Evening, morning, and noon I will plead;
I will grumble and moan before Him
until He hears my voice.
18 And He will rescue my soul, untouched,
plucked safely from the battle,
despite the many who are warring against me.
19 God, enthroned from ancient times through eternity,
will hear my prayers and strike them down.
For they have refused change;
they supply their every need and have no fear of God.
20 My friend has become a foe, breaking faith, tearing down peace.
He’s betrayed our covenant.
21 Oh, how his pleasant voice is smoother than butter,
while his heart is enchanted by war.
Oh, how his words are smoother than oil,
and yet each is a sword drawn in his hand.
22 Cast your troubles upon the Eternal;
His care is unceasing!
He will not allow
His righteous to be shaken.
23 But You, O God, You will drive them
into the lowest[c] pit—
Violent, lying people
won’t live beyond their middle years.
But I place my trust in You.
7 When wrongdoers die, their hopes die with them.
Their great expectations vanish into nothing more than a dream.