202 – NUMBERS 16 – KORAH’S REBELLION – PART 3
6 Do this: Take censers, Korah and all your company;
7 put fire in them and put incense in them before the LORD [Yahweh] tomorrow, and it shall be that the man whom the LORD [Yahweh] chooses is the holy one. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!”
8 Then Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi:
9 Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the LORD [Yahweh], and to stand before the congregation to serve them;
10 and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also?
11 Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the LORD [Yahweh]. And what is Aaron that you complain against him?”
Brackets in the above verses are mine.
Moses lays the ground rules by which Yahweh God will choose who He wants to lead the nation. Then Moses levies the same charge against Korah and his men that Korah levied against Moses, “You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi”! Or you have “bitten off more than you can chew”. Another way to understand this phrase is “you’ve taken this on yourselves”, “God didn’t ask this of you”, which makes this an act of presumption and not faith.
Next, Moses responds to Korah’s challenge, not by defending himself, but by reminding Korah and the others what Yahweh God had done for them. I can almost hear Moses’ tone. “Hasn’t Yahweh done enough for you, “Is it a small thing to you”? After all, he separated you out from the rest of Israel, to bring you into closer fellowship with himself than the rest of the nation (which is mentioned twice). He’s given you a very special assignment in the tablernacle – His tabernacle. He’s given you the privilege of standing before the whole congregation in service. He closes with a statement to their shame, hasn’t Yahweh blessed you enough that you would seek to rule too?
How quickly they and we forget how much God has blessed before complaining and demanding more. It seems to me that one cannot be thankful and complain at the same time. One posture will exert itself over and above the other one.
I might make another observation and maybe you see it too. Do you notice how self-centered and self-serving this challenge to Moses’ authority is demonstrated in this claim? Do you know what I mean? Korah and his partners in folly obviously did not have Yahweh’s interests at heart. This whole exchange was about them. In the same way, complaining puts the complainer at the center, whereas thankfulness puts God at the center.
I wonder how different the story might have been if Korah and the others would have approached Moses and said something like, “we recognized how good God has been to us and we are content to serve him in the assignments He has made. Is there anything else we could do to lovingly serve Yahweh or you?”
You know the old adage, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”? Well, maybe that’s only true of the man who ignores his equipment until there is a problem. God certainly takes care of His children – all of His children. He knows who the best candidates are for service to Himself. We often are befuddled at His choices, and yet they are always an expression of His incredible wisdom and insight.
Notice verse eleven? Moses cuts through the gray and accurately assesses what’s really going on. You are positioning yourself against Yahweh. You aren’t attacking me and Aaron, not really. You are actually directly attacking Yahweh, and tomorrow we will see what God does about it.
You know the existentialist would have you believe that man is basically good and starting from himself can become better and better, or gooder and gooder, if gooder was a word. On the contrary, I think this ancient historical event is hard evidence that the heart of man has always been wickedly self-serving at its core. They needed and we need redemption. We need forgiveness for our sins. We need cleansing from the effects of sin. We need a savior who can breach the gap between us and the one and only Holy God.
Jesus is just such a savior. By His blood, He has saved us and put us back into fellowship with Yahweh God the Father. Isn’t that reason enough to be overwhelmed with gratitude?
14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.
What if we could live like Colossians 3:14-17? Would there ever be room for complaining?
God is truly worthy of all praise and worship!
All Scripture quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.