Numbers 16:1-3 Korah [and others] became insolent and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. 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?
After all the miracles God had done through Moses, it is hard to believe that such a challenge could be made. Instead of defending himself, Moses directed Korah and his supporters to come to the tabernacle the following day.
Then Moses said, This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me.
But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.
As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community (Numbers 16:28-33).
The ground beneath our feet is usually reliable, but not always. God chose Moses and Aaron to lead the nation of Israel. When Korah and the others attacked them, they were attacking God himself. God was so offended that he split the ground beneath their feet, and the earth swallowed them whole.
Few things make leadership more miserable than being falsely accused. Many have wished God would vindicate them as clearly as he did Moses. But this judgment has never been repeated, and many good ministers have been forced out of their ministry.
Even the Apostle Paul had to defend himself against some in the church who opposed him (2 Corinthians 11:5). Christian leaders should be held accountable, of course, but so should those who accuse. Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them (Titus 3:10), wrote Paul.
Other than Jesus Christ, there are no perfect leaders. But any church that allows its leaders to be wrongfully attacked will soon run out of qualified leaders. Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you (Hebrews 13:17), says Hebrews.
Numbers 17:1-2 The Lord said to Moses, Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes.
God showed that he approved of Moses by burying his accusers. Now he would show that he approved of Aaron in a gentler way. A staff was taken from the leader of each ancestral tribe (twelve in all), and each leader’s name was written on his staff. Aaron’s name was written on the staff of Levi, since that was the tribe he belonged to. The staffs were then placed in the tabernacle. The following day Aaron’s staff had sprouted, budded, blossomed and produced almonds. This was proof that he was chosen by God to be the high priest.
Likewise, God has given proof that he has chosen us. No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit (Luke 6:43-44), said Jesus. And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23), wrote Paul. The more we bear the fruit of the Spirit, the more clearly we belong to Christ.
Numbers 20:2 Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron.
Israel ran out of water about forty years earlier, and God told Moses to strike a rock with his staff. Water came out (Exodus 17:1-7) and all the people survived. Now, at the end of their journey, a new generation needed water, and God would meet their need as well. But instead of striking the rock with his staff, God told Moses to speak to the rock (Numbers 20:8).
This should have gone just fine, but Moses had grown impatient. Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock? Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank (Numbers 20:10-11).
Instead of speaking to the rock as God directed, Moses struck it twice with his staff. And instead of giving all the glory to God, he took some himself. Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them (Numbers 20:12), said God.
Moses failed to fully obey, and to give God all the glory, and it cost him dearly. I am the Lord; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another . . . (Isaiah 42:8), said the Lord. From this we learn to fully obey, and to give God all the glory. If we lead someone to Christ, we give the glory to God. If our children turn out well, we give the glory to God. If we get a promotion, we give the glory to God. Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory (Psalm 115:1), wrote the Psalmist.
Reflection and Review
How should churches treat their leaders?
What is the evidence that we truly belong to Christ?
Why should Christians give all the glory to God?