27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents. 28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: 29 If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.” 31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. 33 They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community.
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Prior to the deaths of Dathan and Abiram (along with their wives and families), God had been prepared (Numbers 16:20-24) to consume the entire Israelite congregation (except for Moses and Aaron) for their complicity in Dathan's and Abiram's rebellion. (And that destruction would have been as justified as God had been in earlier sending the Flood, or as He would have been in not showing grace and mercy to the universally sinful human race (including even children) by sending Jesus to redeem it.) Dathan and Abiram had been aware of that threat, and, had they taken it seriously (even if they themselves did not relent from their defiance), they could have saved their families from it by sending them away from their tents, but they selfishly and rebelliously did not. Nor, apparently, did their families make such an effort on their own, indicating a similar intransigence, and a disregard for God's pronounced judgment. Thus, what happened to them was a deserved fate for them, as well as an example to all the Israelites -- and yet one which the Israelites nevertheless still (amazingly) refused to heed, resulting in the equally deserved deaths of thousands more the very next day (Numbers 16:41-50).
During the Old Testament even the keepers of laws (mere human beings) were allowed to kill a person if the person committed a terrible sin. They were allowed by God to stone the accused person to death. So, definitely God the Almighty noticed their constant rebellion and justified death to them. During the old times it was easier to convict the person of sin, and the wages of sin were nothing but death. Thus they got death. However, in present time we have Jesus, who accepts us as sinners, gives forgiveness and allows us to repent. His Holy Spirit guides us to abstain from the path of lawlessness! So, definitely we should use the gift of grace wisely, and we must secure the eternal life, which is a free gift in the Lord Jesus Christ.
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