Chapters 16 and 17 record the rebellion of Korah. Korah was a Levite who was not content to minister in the Tabernacle; he wanted to serve as a Priest as well (verse 10). Of course, this attitude was direct rebellion against the Word of God as given by Moses, since it was God who made the Tabernacle appointments. Korah was not content to rebel alone; he gathered 250 princes of Israel, as well as three men from the tribe of Reuben, Jacob's firstborn son. In name, number, unity, and attitude, these rebels seemed to have a strong case against Aaron and Moses. It appears that Korah and his followers defied Aaron, while Dathan, Abiram, and On questioned the authority of Moses.
Moses and Aaron did not defend themselves; they let God do the defending. Moses instructed Korah and his 250 men to bring censors (pots for burning incense) to the Tabernacle where God would demonstrate who was right in the dispute. He called for Dathan and Abiram to come, but they defied Moses' authority and refused to obey. In verse 25 Moses goes to them. Note how the men blamed Moses for their failure to enter the Promised Land (verses 13,14), when in reality it was their own unbelief that blocked the way. For these men to rebel against Moses meant rejecting the Word of God, for he was God's prophet; and to rebel against Aaron meant rejecting the work of God on the altar, for he was God's Priest. Men and women should be very careful about rebelling against the authority of government and the church. We must realize that the "king's heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will." No leader, whether he be president, governor, pastor, or whatever, is in a position he may fulfill without God allowing him to be there. With one twinkle of an eye God can remove presidents from office and pastors from the leadership of a church; through sickness, death, or whatever. Never be guilty of trying to run God's business for Him, but believe, in every situation, that He is in full control. Satan is the prince of the power of the air, and the ruler of this world, but he is God's unwilling servant. He can do nothing without God's permission.
There are several practical applications to be learned from today's reading: (1) The servant of God need not defend himself. If his work and walk are what they ought to be, God will step in and defend him. Read Psalm 37 very carefully. This is my favorite chapter in the Bible and, if applied to your life daily, it will completely change your life. (2) Rebellion against authority is a dangerous sin. We see it on every hand today and we wonder how long it will be before God will step in with judgment. (3) In Christ we have all the authority we need. When a person receives Christ as his own personal Saviour, he becomes joint heirs with Him, part of the family of God (John 1:12). What other authority could anyone ask for?
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