In Numbers 16:36-38, after striking down the 250 men who had supported Korah and who had offered God incense in their censers, God tells Eleazar the priest to collect the censers that the 250 men had left behind. God's reason is "for they were presented before the LORD and have become holy" (v38). I can picture Eleazar walking among a sea of burnt bodies collecting these censers. Then, as "a sign to the Israelites", God tells Eleazar to hammer the censors into flat sheets to decorate the altar. That way, whenever the priests offered sacrifices at the altar, it was a constant reminder to all the remaining Israelites of the 250 men who lost their lives because of their sin, and a further reminder that they should always fear the Lord, respect their leaders, and not make the same mistake that Korah and the 250 men made.
What can we learn from this? God is great at redeeming regretful situations. Of course it would have been best if Korah, Dathan, Abiram and the 250 leaders with them had never sinned so blatantly and so publicly. But God made the best of the situation. He took the censers that the now deceased 250 leaders left behind and He found a way to use them, not letting them go to waste.
In the same way, perhaps you find yourself in a situation that seems far from ideal. Maybe sin has deeply affected your home, your team or your environment around you. God is with you to redeem that situation, to make the best of that situation. Ask yourself: what good can we pick out of the smoldering wreckage? What lessons can we learn from this and teach our kids? In what ways can we remind ourselves and future generations not to make the same mistakes that led to this wreckage?
Praise God. He is our Redeemer. Let's make the best of even the worst situations by learning and remembering the lessons that God teaches us through those situations.
Unfortunately, rather than heeding the lessons that God was teaching through the slaying of the 250, the assembly of remaining Israelites commit the same basic sin as the 250, grumbling and rising up against Moses and Aaron (v41). In just response to their sin, God sends a plague to destroy the entire assembly. At Moses' command, Aaron the high priest runs into the middle of the assembly with a censer and makes atonement for the crowd. His atoning sacrifice stops the plague from continuing to destroy the people (v47).
What Aaron did -- how he made atonement for the people and "stood between the living and the dead" (v48) -- that is a picture of what Jesus Christ has done for us. Jesus our great high priest stood between us and the wrath of God. His atoning sacrifice stopped the plague of God's holy wrath from destroying us.
Thank You, Lord Jesus. It's only because of you and your atoning sacrifice that we can live in the Father's presence.