1 Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites -- Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth -- became insolent
2 and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council.
3 They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, "You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD's assembly?"
4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown.
5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers: "In the morning the LORD will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him.
6 You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: Take censers
7 and tomorrow put fire and incense in them before the LORD. The man the LORD chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!"
8 Moses also said to Korah, "Now listen, you Levites!
9 Isn't it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the LORD's tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them?
10 He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too.
11 It is against the LORD that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?"
The Power to Influence (16:1–7)
Korah and his accomplices are dissatisfied with their duties, so they influence 250 “well-known community leaders” (v. 2), and together they form a united front against the authority of Moses and the priesthood of Aaron. Korah is not an outsider but someone close to Moses, evidently a cousin. He is ambitious, self-seeking, and envious of the leaders’ positions. He therefore charges God’s chosen one with having “gone too far” and misleading the people. Rebellion and negativity can spread very quickly in a community when left unchecked. But Moses replies that the Levites are the ones who have gone too far and sets up a trial by fire. There is a divine order in leadership, and it is God alone who chooses His servants for the work of ministry.
- What is your attitude toward the ministry leaders who have authority over you? Are you willing to submit to them, or are you pursuing your own agenda?
Ambition versus Satisfaction (16:8–11)
This rebellion is not so much about the whole community being holy as it is about the Levites ambitiously desiring the powers of the priesthood. Korah’s argument is not entirely wrong, for the entire nation of Israel is to be holy before God. However, the LORD has placed certain people in positions of leadership according to His will. The same is true of the church. We are all called to be a “royal priesthood” and a “holy nation” (1 Pet. 2:9), but there are a select few who hold positions of spiritual leadership according to God’s call to ministry. Moses discerns Korah’s true motives and calls him out, stating that the Levites should be satisfied with the work God has set them apart to do, for it is a great privilege.
- Do you envy the gifts, positions, or blessings of others? Do not let your ambitions drive your ministry. Be satisfied with where God has placed you, and let Him reward you in His time.
A letter to God
Dear Lord, help me to respect, honor, and support the leaders You have placed in my life. Thank you for their spiritual covering and authority over me. Thank you for the positions and responsibilities You have given me. May I handle them faithfully. In Jesus’ name. Amen.