Scripture: Then Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation. Numbers 16:17 ESV
Observation: Having accused Moses and Aaron wrongfully of abusing their leadership position, Moses rightfully confronts Korah about how Yahweh had separated Korah, a Levite, to a higher rank above the people through his tabernacle service. Moses then questions Korah’s intent: “And would you seek the priesthood also?” (16:10b ESV). Without waiting for a response, Moses then gets to the heart of the matter: Korah and his cronies oppose the Lord with their insurrection (v.11). So Moses summons Dathan and Abiram before him, but they refuse to talk to him face to face. Instead, they send a message intended to set Moses on his heels: “Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you must also make yourself a prince over us?” (16:13 ESV). Gaslighting, they refer to Egypt, not Canaan, as the Promised Land.
At this point, Moses reaches the end of his patience. He angrily invokes the Lord to “not respect their offerings” (v.15). He then instructs Korah to return tomorrow with his 250 backers, each carrying their censers with burning incense at the tent of meeting. They agree and return the next day to encounter the glory of the Lord (above verse). Speaking directly to Moses and Aaron, God threatens to destroy all the people but relents when Moses pleads to spare the innocent. Yahweh then instructs Moses to pronounce to the entire congregation to stay away from the dwellings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (16:20-23). Moses communicates God’s instructions and adds that if he speaks of his own accord, these three men will die by ordinary means, but if he disseminates on behalf of God, then the ground will open up and swallow them, and all that belongs to them (16:26-30). On the heels of his pronouncement, the earth splits apart and consumes their entire families and possessions (16:31-34). Not surprisingly, the rest of Israel scatter from the scene as fire from God also consumes the 250 men offering incense (16:34-35).
Takeaway: Everyone has their breaking point. Meek Moses (as Scripture tells us, Exodus 12:3) reached the end of his rope when these three men kept pressing their issue and seduced the entire congregation to their side. Thankfully, he turned to the Lord with his complaints rather than taking matters into his own hands. Following the Lord’s lead, Moses and all concerned witnessed the glory of the Lord descend on them, which marked the beginning of the end for the troublemakers.
What does this mean for you and me? We, too, will fare far better if we first take our grievances to the Lord and wait for his instructions. In due time, the Lord will reveal himself, maybe not in a cloud, but certainly in the outcome. We will see God moving in the actions and attitudes of all concerned. And those who prove to be recalcitrant of heart will, one way or another, move on and meet their fate one day. Meanwhile, our Lord will reveal his glory through us as we submit to his direction.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son who did not defend himself or take matters into his own hands but always submitted to your direction. And we thank you that resultantly the Enemy has met his fate and is no longer a threat to us. So would you please help us first take our grievances to you in prayer and wait for your response so that we might align with your will and bring you glory? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling