Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them? — Numbers 16:9
Have you ever felt that a task you were asked to do was insignificant? Have you ever wondered why other people seem to have more advantages or benefits than you do? You may even have thought, Life’s just not fair.
It pays to guard against a discontented spirit. In Numbers 16, we read of a man with complaints similar to these, and the result was punishment from God. Korah had a place in the service of the Tabernacle. As a Levite, he ministered to Aaron, the high priest, but he became dissatisfied. He desired the kind of attention that Moses and Aaron received. Discontentment turned to rebellion, and tragedy was the result. Judgment was poured out, and the earth swallowed up Korah and the rebellious men who agreed with him. When the Children of Israel began to murmur against Moses and Aaron for killing “the Lord’s people,” God sent a deadly plague upon them.
What about us? Each of us has been called to do some service for God. It may not seem to be an important job in our eyes, but to the Lord it is important. Perhaps we were asked to be an usher, clean the church sanctuary, organize supplies for Sunday school, or to pray for others. Does it seem a small thing that God has given us such an opportunity?
Church ushers welcome and help people into services. An usher may be the first person a visitor sees when he enters the church. The impression made on that visitor can have a great impact. Those who help keep God’s house clean provide a pleasant environment for worship. Keeping Sunday school supplies organized and readily available gives the teachers resources to dynamically tell their students about salvation. Those weekly lessons could be the very thing that draws their hearts to the Lord. Serving God at an altar of prayer is a high calling: helping people pray is an awesome privilege and challenge.
To be used of God and to have a part in His service is no small thing! As we yield our lives to Him and joyfully and appreciatively do whatever He asks us to do, we will find that His blessing and favor is upon our lives, and our efforts will count for eternity.
No matter how much God did for the Children of Israel, and no matter how much He taught them, it seemed they were not a spiritually-minded people. They had wandered in the wilderness for some time and had never had a problem that Moses could not solve with the help of the Lord. However, a coalition of Levites and community leaders opposed Moses and Aaron.
Korah, a Levite in the family of Kohath, must have been a distinguished leader to be able to enlist the support of 250 “men of renown” from among the other tribes. He, along with others, suggested that Moses was not doing his job correctly, seemingly thinking that they could do a better job. Korah’s public complaint was that Moses and Aaron were not giving the people opportunity for input; he wanted more democracy in the camp. Usurping Moses’ authority, he claimed that the entire congregation was holy and that the Lord was with them. The hidden reason was that Korah was not satisfied to be assisting the priests; he wanted to be a priest.
Moses, a humble leader, fell on his face before the Lord. He did not argue with Korah or attempt to persuade him that he was doing well in his position, because he knew Korah’s aim was to assume the authority of the priesthood — something that God would never permit. God would have to show Korah and his followers how wrong they were. Moses proposed a simple test that would reveal the truth: they were to bring their censers to the Tabernacle the next morning and see if God would accept them.
God had chosen Moses to be the leader of the Israelites, and Aaron to be the high priest; resisting this arrangement was rebellion against the will of God. It brought serious division within the camp, and because of the rebellion of Korah and his followers, God caused the earth to open and they and all that pertained to them (their wives, children, houses, and all their goods) went down into the pit alive. Fire consumed the 250 who had been in the rebellion with them.
In spite of having seen such remarkable events, the people of Israel still accused Moses of killing “the people of the Lord.” In wrath, God said He would consume them, and a plague began in the camp. Once again, Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before God to intercede for the people. Quickly, Aaron “made an atonement” and the plague was stopped, but not before 14,700 people died.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The journey from Sinai to the plains of Moab
C. The wanderings in the wilderness
2. The rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram
a. The insurrection (16:1-3)
b. The action of Moses (16:4-19)
c. The punishment (16:20-35)
d. The work of Eleazar (16:36-40)
e. The rebellion of the people (16:41-45)
f. The intercession and the stayed plague (16:46-50)
Inappropriate ambition may actually be greed in disguise! Let us be content and appreciative of the responsibilities God has given us.