Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. (Numbers 16:1-2)
This chapter opens with the names of the infamous men who led an open revolt against Moses and Aaron. The text says that they “rose up before Moses” but the literal rendering would be, “They rose up in the face of Moses” –- meaning they defied Moses and Aaron. This is the same term that is used to describe the rebel Nimrod who was “a mighty hunter before (in the face of) the LORD” (Genesis 10:9). So just as Nimrod opposed the LORD and His Will, Korah was in opposition to Moses and, consequently, to God as well. Joining him in this protest were 250 princes of the congregation — leaders within their tribes — which lended a certain degree of credibility to Korah’s protests in the eyes of the people.
Instead of complaining about a particular issue -– the lack of water or food, etc. –- the people, led by Korah, Dathan and Abiram, began to claim that the two brothers were guilty of abuse and nepotism and had “taken too much upon themselves.” So rather than using their positions to influence compliance with God’s way, they encouraged a rebellion against it, fanning the flames of discontent and causing it to spread quickly through the congregation. The end result, as we know, was not good. By being so bold as to “get in God’s face” as it were, they and their families paid a heavy price.
If it was true then, it is true today — inciting rebellion among God’s people and causing them to defy His purpose is a dangerous game to play. Moreover, to do so when you know better is truly dangerous. In other words, it is one thing for an unbeliever to be rebellious — that’s bad enough — but for a “believer” to participate in something like this rises to an altogether different level of “wrong.” So let’s learn from the past and be extremely careful not to say or do anything that would encourage someone who has become dissatisfied to become a malcontent. Rather than encouraging defiance against authority, we need to encourage obedience to God’s Will and exhibit the strength to be content in any situation we may find ourselves in. In doing so, God is well pleased.
Blessings and Shalom,