April 13, 2011
The Rebellion of Korah
Words of Envy Today
“Is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them; and that He has brought you near, Korah, and all your brothers, sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking for the priesthood also?”
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Yesterday, we read about the words of rebellion spoken by Korah and two hundred and fifty representatives of Israel against Moses and Aaron. Today, Moses points out the root cause of the rebellion: envy for greater positions of power.
The Blessings of God upon the Levites. In Numbers 16:9-10, we read about Moses confronting those rebels and asking them piercing questions. So often in the ancient culture of Israel we see that people asked questions which brought the true issue to light, and exposed it for all to see. In this case, Moses asked the rebels if they also sought the priesthood. He reminded them of the special blessings God had already bestowed upon them: (1) God had separated them from the congregation of Israel, and brought them near to Himself (compare with the last phrase of Numbers 16:5 “whom He will choose, He will bring near to Himself;”) (2) to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD; and (3) to stand before the congregation to minister to them (Numbers 16:9). God had already blessed the Levites, but they were not satisfied.
The Envy of Korah and the Rebels. In Numbers 16:10, Moses drills down to the real problem with the rebels: they want the priesthood for themselves. Notice too that Moses warns the rebels that they have assembled not only against Moses and Aaron, but also against the LORD. Anytime our actions make us an opposing party to the LORD we should very quickly repent and change our mind. In this case, Korah and some Levites wanted to be in charge and sought more powerful positions. Only God bestows such positions, and humans must never question God’s choices.
The Problem of Envy and Dissatisfaction. Today, we often see people in different assemblies seek greater gifts and greater positions of leadership. Actually, the Bible commands believers to seek the greater gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31), but God distributes the gifts just as the Holy Spirit wills (1 Corinthians 12:11). Likewise, if a man “aspires to the office of overseer (“ἐπισκοπῆς“), it is a fine work he desires to do” (1 Timothy 3:1). The problem arises when we envy one another and bite one another with grumbling, rumors, false statements, and other attacks. Because God alone decides the roles and gifts of each believer, we must always submit to His choice. In the context of the New Testament, we should always be using our spiritual gifts, knowing that whatever gift we possess has been bestowed by the Holy Spirit, so that each of us has a unique and important ministry. Remember what God said about the composition of the Body of Christ and how the spiritual gifts have been placed within it: “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired” (1 Corinthians 12:18).
The Priesthood of All Believers. In 1 Peter 2:5, God tells us that all believers are part of a holy priesthood, chosen to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Furthermore, in Hebrews, God thoroughly explains the high priestly acts and office of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ appeared as a high priest, and entered the heavenly tabernacle, not made with human hands. There Christ entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption by His own blood shed on the cross (Hebrews 9:11-13). Therefore, the very thing that Korah and the Levites so envied, the Lord Jesus Christ fully accomplished as the Perfect High Priest and Holy Sacrifice, which He offered once for all for the sins of every man who ever lived. Today, we have a new and living way to enter the holy place, where God dwells, inaugurated by the blood of Jesus our Savior (Hebrews 10:19-20).
So we learn more about envy and dissatisfaction today.
● Seeking greater gifts and offices within the church does not separate us from God, but we fall into trouble and sin when we question God’s choices and His distribution of spiritual gifts and spiritual offices within the church.
● Words of envy often underlie words of rebellion. Being dissatisfied with blessings God has already bestowed upon us leads us to envy other gifts and people. Instead, we should realize that every saint has a spiritual gift, and vital spiritual ministry using that gift.
● We envy and rebel because we have sinful tendencies within us. Only by God’s abiding power in our lives can we use His gifts, and not fall into envy, rebellion, and disgrace. We need to focus upon His blessings and be thankful.
Application for Today
Today I want to avoid envy in my actions, thoughts, and aspirations. Instead, I want to be thankful to God for all of His blessings in my life. Because of Jesus in my life, I will be thankful that I may serve Him today as a holy priest, offering up spiritual sacrifices to God today. Are you ready to sacrifice yourself today?