Moses and Aaron had brought the Israelites out of Egypt, a land flowing with milk and honey where they had prospered, and had left them to die in the wilderness. So 250 men of Israel, led by Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and On, came together to oppose them. These men said Moses and Aaron shouldn’t have authority over the rest of the people, because all of Israel was holy. Moses told these men to appear with Aaron before the Lord, and said God would decide who was or wasn’t holy. So they all gathered in front of the tent of meeting.
God told Moses and Aaron to stand back so he could destroy the rest of the Israelites. Moses and Aaron reminded God, once again, that he shouldn’t do that, because not all of them had sinned. So instead, God had Moses tell the rest of the Israelites to stand back so he could destroy Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, the rebel leaders.
Moses announced that if the earth opened up and swallowed those men, that would be a sign that God had appointed Moses to lead Israel. Then the earth opened up and swallowed Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and their innocent wives and children. God also killed the 250 rebels with fire. But the other rebel leader, On, wasn’t killed. So he must have been a holy leader chosen by the Lord, just like Moses and Aaron. On was never mentioned again.
The next day, the Israelites accused Moses and Aaron of killing the Lord’s people. So God told Moses and Aaron to stand back so he could destroy the rest of the Israelites. Again. This time God had already killed thousands of Israelites before Moses and Aaron were able to stop him.
The moral of the story
When God mistreats people, blame God, not his subordinates.