It is against the LORD that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him? (Bemidbar / Numbers 16:11).
In this week's portion, we see what may seem at first glance to be a reasonable challenge on the part of Korah and his associates. With all that had occurred since leaving Egypt until now, it is no wonder that discontentment was rising. They based their challenge against Moses and Aaron upon the lack of results (16:13,14). The people were promised a land "flowing with milk and honey", but for about two years they experienced hardship after hardship.
They also undermined Moses' claim to leadership based on their supposed understanding of the whole community's relationship to God (16:3). They charged Moses with setting himself over the people. They rightly understood that all the people had a special relationship with God. After all he did deliver them all from bondage in Egypt and gave them his Torah. These acts of God thus made the people holy or in other words separated unto God. Korah therefore saw Moses as setting up himself and Aaron his brother over the people.
What Korah was not willing to accept is that Moses and Aaron's leadership was not of their own devising. God had called them to this. But we don't know how much of this Korah understood. Having not necessarily witnessed Moses' appointment by God, his criticisms appear to be justified.
And so why such a harsh reaction from God? First, it is clear that their concern for the community was not their motive. They wanted place and position. Korah and a good number of his followers were Levites, who were assigned by God to be the assistants to the priests. But Korah and company wanted the priesthood itself (16:10).
Second, it was actually God that they were challenging, not Moses and Aaron (16:11). Their words may have been directed at people, but their hearts were in opposition to God.
These people were not acting out of a heart of faith and submission to God, but rather out of their own selfish ambition. They were focused on the human situation without having any sense of God's place in the whole affair.
This is the essence of the human condition. God calls us to center our lives in him. Created to be his servants, we are to be motivated by him and his ways. When we take up our own concerns to accomplish our own goals, we step outside of the kind of life he intended for us.
The people of Israel were called out of the self-focused world of Egypt and were called to serve the God of the universe. This was their salvation. Yet Korah and company stood against this, rejecting God's provision. As a result God judged them and the earth opened up and swallowed them alive.
This vividly shows us the destiny of all who stubbornly resist God. God's provision of salvation through the death and resurrection of Yeshua is our door to eternal life. But in order to receive that life, we need to submit to God's appointed leader, Yeshua. We can point our fingers at all sorts of people in our attempt to provide excuses as to why we should not follow him. But in the end we won't be able to hide behind our excuses.
If we would turn away from our own self seeking and humbly seek God, then we will know his ways and how we are to follow him.
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