Good morning everyone. One of the outstanding events of the Bible to teach us God’s attitude toward those who rebel against authority is found in Numbers 16:1-17:3. Take the time to read the event and then consider these lessons that we might gain from it.
- This rebellion against duly constituted authority had a ringleader. There is always someone to lead a rebellion. It is usually someone of influence or the rebellion does not reach very far. Korah was the one who stepped forward to say that they should pick any of many men of Israel to lead. He claimed they were as holy and capable as Moses and Aaron (v. 3). Such men today are not builders, but dividers and must not be tolerated in the congregation, but should be disciplined.
- As always, there were other dissatisfied men who would listen and join with the ringleader. One can always find dissatisfied men. And a leader, even of insurrection, needs followers. When someone comes to you with a complaint about the leaders, but who has not been to the leaders, they are stirring trouble. If they are young in the faith, instruct them to go talk with the leaders. If they are older in the faith, rebuke them and instruct them to go talk with the leaders. In any case, do not join with these who violate God’s word (Phil. 2:14). Make no mistake. There are leaders who need to be removed from their position due to their ungodliness. This should be done with wisdom and prayer and care, not with gainsaying and mutiny. Such was not the case with Moses and Aaron who were directly appointed by God.
- Those who join the dividers are also guilty of disrespecting authority. The families of Korah, Dathan and Abiram suffered their same fate. Some 250 princes of Israel died because they joined the gainsayers. Every adult has personal responsibility to do right. Even when there is a justifiable grievance, there is no room for mob action. If we choose to keep the wrong company, we are likely to suffer their fate. In Num. 16:41, the people blamed Moses and Aaron for the death of the insurrectionists. The faithful are often blamed when they follow and support God’s discipline. These who blamed Moses and Aaron took upon themselves the sin of Korah and suffered a like fate. Leaders may not always be right, but they are always the leaders unless they are scripturally removed from the position and that can only rightly be for some sin or grievous failure in the work.
- You will notice that God wanted to drive this point home. Respect for authority must be part of our character. God had the censers beaten flat and the plates used to cover the altar so that whenever one saw it, they would remember to submit to authority. Even Jude (v. 11), hundreds of years later and by inspiration, reminds us of the rebellion of Korah.
Let us remember to obey the powers that be (1 Pet. 2:13-15) and all that are in authority. If God says it, that settles it.