Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The Rebellion of Korah

I'm currently reading through the Old Testament and found an interesting story in the book of Numbers chapter 16. The Israelites were camped out in the wilderness and not permitted to enter the Promised Land because of their lack of faith in God. Obviously they were frustrated and disappointed and tempers began to flare. One man named Korah had incited a group of 250 men to rebel against Moses, God's appointed leader. They didn't like the idea that Moses was running the whole show. They complained about the fact that Moses had lead them out of Egypt and not delivered on his promise of taking them to the land of milk and honey. They failed to realize that their lack of faith kept them out of Canaan. When confronted with the rebellion Moses threw himself on the ground and prayed for wisdom. Here's how it played out...

Then he (Moses) addressed Korah and his gang: "In the morning God will make clear who is on his side, who is holy. God will take his stand with the one he chooses. Now, Korah, here's what I want you, you and your gang, to do: Tomorrow, take censers. In the presence of God, put fire in them and then incense. Then we'll see who is holy, see whom God chooses. Sons of Levi, you've overstepped yourselves!"

Moses said to Korah, "Bring your people before God tomorrow. Appear there with them and Aaron. Have each man bring his censer filled with incense and present it to God—all 250 censers. And you and Aaron do the same, bring your censers."

So they all did it. They brought their censers filled with fire and incense and stood at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Moses and Aaron did the same. It was Korah and his gang against Moses and Aaron at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. The entire community could see the Glory of God. God said to Moses and Aaron, "Separate yourselves from this congregation so that I can finish them off and be done with them." They threw themselves on their faces and said, "O God, God of everything living, when one man sins are you going to take it out on the whole community?" God spoke to Moses: "Speak to the community. Tell them, Back off from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram." Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram. The leaders of Israel followed him. He then spoke to the community: "Back off from the tents of these bad men; don't touch a thing that belongs to them lest you be carried off on the flood of their sins." So they all backed away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.

... Moses continued to address the community: "This is how you'll know that it was God who sent me to do all these things and that it wasn't anything I cooked up on my own. If these men die a natural death like all the rest of us, you'll know that it wasn't God who sent me. But if God does something unprecedented—if the ground opens up and swallows the lot of them and they are pitched alive into Sheol—then you'll know that these men have been insolent with God." The words were hardly out of his mouth when the Earth split open. Earth opened its mouth and in one gulp swallowed them down, the men and their families, all the human beings connected with Korah, along with everything they owned. And that was the end of them, pitched alive into Sheol. The Earth closed up over them and that was the last the community heard of them.

Things written in the Old Testament were written for our learning. Only Joshua and Caleb and those who demonstrated faith in God to subdue and deliver the Promised Land into the hands of the Israelites actually entered the land. Likewise those who demonstrate lack of faith in Jesus Christ to deliver us from destruction will never enter into the Promised Land (new heaven and new earth). We also see the danger in slandering God's appointed leader. Too many people grumble and complain about their pastor instead of submitting to his God-given leadership position. Here's what the Apostle Paul had to say about it....

Never speak harshly to an elder, but appeal to him respectfully as you would to your own father. Elders who do their work well should be respected and paid well, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. Do not listen to an accusation against an elder unless it is confirmed by two or three witnesses. Those who sin should be reprimanded in front of the whole church; this will serve as a strong warning to others. I solemnly command you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus and the holy angels to obey these instructions without taking sides or showing favoritism to anyone. 1 Timothy 5:1, 17, 19 - 21

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