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.” – Num. 16:29-30 NIV
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Reuben was the first son of Jacob and his descendants naturally will believe that the leadership of the Israelites should remain their exclusive rights. This was however not the case as Moses and Aaron, his brother seemed to be in charge. If it was the case that the Levites had to be in charge, then Amram and Izhar were the first and second sons of Kohath who was a direct descendant of Levi. Korah who then would be direct cousin to Moses and Aaron probably had a sense of entitlement to whatever was coming to that lineage through their grandfather who in this case was Kohath. This probably explains the active part that Korah played in the next rebellion against Moses with Aaron being a victim on this occasion. One would expect Moses to be used to such acts by now after his siblings had previously put up similar act.
This time the opportunity for rebellion presented itself, they must have thought, when someone was found gathering wood on Sabbath day. Although they knew that it was wrong, they did not have Instructions with regards to the penalty for such transgression so they approached the Lord for guidance. This responsibility fell on Moses and Aaron who after consultations with the Lord returned with a verdict that the person should be stoned to death – Num. 15:32-36.
The Israelites complied but for Korah, Dothan and Abiram, the latter two being descendants of Reuben, who probably had personal scores to settle, they gathered together some well known community leaders totaling 250 in number, and operating on the populist agenda of being protectors and defenders of the rights of the people, they confronted Moses and Aaron with the claim that the entire community was holy and God was with them as against the position of Moses and Aaron, accusing them of wanting to present themselves as more superior to the people– Num. 16:1-3.
Moses in reacting to this group of Israelites took the following steps;
- He informed the Korah faction, that only the Almighty God will decide who belonged to Him and so arranged for a forum where that clarification will be made and what the requirements for that ceremony will be – Num. 16:4-7. He went further to accuse them of lack of contentment since he was convinced that their action was based on their selfish intention to take the position that God had earmarked exclusively for Aaron and his descendants – Num. 16:8-11.
- He counselled the Dothan and the Abiram faction, whom he probably felt were being used by the Korah faction, to distance themselves from the actions of the Korah faction, but they rebuffed his counsel, accusing him of attempts to enforce his leadership on them adding that they were deceived into following him, with the promise of being taken to a land flowing with milk and honey only for them to be gradually eliminated in the desert – Num. 16:12-14.
On the morrow as arranged, God did come down, not just to decide on who belonged to Him or not but to put an end to all the people, but for the quick intercession of Moses who pleaded with God not to destroy all because of the sin of few. God hearkened to this plea and Moses went one more time to appeal to the group led by Dothan and Abiram, but with them sticking to their position, he had no choice but to let go – Num. 16:23-27. His proof to the people that he indeed has the calling of the Lord and that the group of rebels were acting against the Will of God is the foundation scripture for today’s devotion – Num. 16:28-30. He had hardly finished speaking when the ground opened up under Korah, his fraction and all their possessions were swallowed up and the ground closed up over them. They had been buried alive whilst fire consumed the 250 men who were offering incense in order to prove that they had similar status before the Lord like Aaron – Num. 16:30-35.
Many Christians there are today who may not have been swallowed up by the ground but have definitely been swallowed up by life. Some have lost all possessions but because of the distractions of the devil, they are not able to see what they are experiencing as divine reaction to some of their acts that can be considered as rebellious, especially within the household of God. Instead of acknowledging that they are being punished for their ignorance in the ways the Lord operate, they point accusing fingers at people who they feel are the reasons for their negative experience. The wise will however be able to see, going by the scripture today that;
- The call of God is not by seniority. David was selected by the Lord ahead of seven sons who were all older than him to be the next king of Israel – 1Sam. 16:1-13.
- The call of God is not hereditary. The children of Eli did not take over from Eli as the Priests in shiloh just as the children of Samuel did not succeed him – 1Sam. 8:1-3.
- None acceptance of the decision of God on those he wishes to use for his work will only produce losses of possessions and may be shameful death. Jonah did not want to accept the call of God and caused losses for several people – Jonah 1:4-5.
Accept and operate within the Will of God. It is His work and not yours and so He has a right to use whoever he desires. It is not what you can forcefully acquire. Learn to respect this right of the Almighty God just as He also respects your right to choose the direction for your life and you will avoid sudden misfortune. May God guide our reactions and footsteps in Jesus name. Amen.