Numbers 16: Rebellion Against the Prophet

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 67


Sometimes people think that they don’t really have to follow the teachings of the prophets because they think prophets are human just like the rest of us and are just giving their opinion on things. Elder Harold B. Lee, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said, “I want to bear you my testimony that the experience I have had has taught me that those who criticize the leaders of this Church are showing signs of a spiritual sickness which, unless curbed, will bring about eventual spiritual death” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1947, 67). Some years later, as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and a member of the First Presidency, President Lee said, “Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow the ones whom the Lord has placed to preside over his church” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1970, 153).Those whom the Lord chooses to preside over us are given sacred keys to receive revelation in directing the Church and directing us in righteousness. How we respond to our leaders reflects our feelings for and faith in our Heavenly Father. Read what the Lord said to latter-day Israel in Doctrine and Covenants 1:14; 121:16–17; 124:45–46. Look for how Numbers 16 dramatically illustrates the truth of these statements.

Understanding the Scriptures

Numbers 16

Renown (v. 2)Well-known people 
Censers (vv. 6, 17–18, 37–39)Containers to burn incense 
Separated (v. 9)Chosen 
Company (vv. 11, 16)Group, family 
Wroth, wrath (vv. 15, 22, 46)Angry, anger 
About (v. 24)Near 
Appertain, appertained (vv. 30, 32–33)Belong 
Provoked (v. 30)Made angry 
Clave asunder (v. 31)Split apart 
Yonder (v. 37)Away from the camp 
Hallowed (vv. 37–38)Holy or sacred 
Broad plates (vv. 38–39)Metal sheets (from the metal of the censers) 
Brasen (v. 39)Bronze, copper 

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity A as you study Numbers 16.

Activity A iconTell the Story in Your Own Words

  1. 1.

    Write the story of Numbers 16 in your own words.

  2. 2.

    Explain how this story is an example of President Harold B. Lee’s statements in the introduction to this chapter.