Numbers 16. It was a power play . . . pure and simple. They wanted in . . . literally. Korah & Co. wanted in to the holy of holies. This son of Levi was ambitious and so he rose up in rebellion seeking to force his way into the priesthood. And though it was Moses they confronted, it was really the LORD they were challenging (16:11). Though it was Aaron they sought to usurp, it was really the LORD they were challenging (16:30). And it didn’t turn out well. They got swallowed up in their arrogance . . . again, literally. As they offered their proposal of a new priesthood before the LORD, “the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the people who belonged to Korah and all their goods” (16:32). Bad move on the part of Korah & Co.
But where did it come from? Why did this son of Levi seek to elevate himself? A clue might be found in Moses’ question to Korah . . .
And Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi: is it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do service in the tabernacle of the LORD and to stand before the congregation to minister to them, and that He has brought you near Him, and all your brothers the sons of Levi with you? And would you seek the priesthood also?” (Numbers 16:8-10 ESV)
It seems that Korah failed to grasp the nature and privilege of his calling. He was so focused on being “second class” to Aaron and sons that he lost sight of the fact that God esteemed him better than the firstborn of Israel (Num. 3:12) . . . that God had chosen his tribe as His own special possession . . . that God had ordained for his people the privilege of service in the tabernacle.
I wonder if Korah had got to the point of being dissatisfied that he HAD TO do service in the tabernacle rather than being jazzed that he GOT TO minister at the place where the glory of God dwelled. If he had become so accustomed to the day-in-day-out routine that he failed to appreciate the divine . . . the high and holy calling . . . the sacred privilege to be brought near to God. Service in the tabernacle shouldn’t have been a job . . . it should have been a joy. Ministering among the holy things should have been viewed as divine privilege rather than as dutiful performance.
And so, he coveted more . . . wanted to climb the ladder . . . want to lift himself up. Instead, he ended up with nothing . . . was humiliated before the people . . . and was taken down into the earth. All because he failed to value what he GOT TO DO.
I’m not thinking many of us are in danger of being swallowed up live by the earth . . . but I do wonder if sometimes we might fall into Korah’s trap.
The trap of feeling like our calling is but a duty to discharge . . . a burden to bear . . . a routine to remain faithful to. The trap of being discontent . . . and perhaps tempted to stand up for ourselves . . . making something of ourselves . . . and move beyond being what God has called us to be and doing what God has desired us to do.
Instead, if we were again captured by the privilege that is ours . . . of being brought near to God Himself at the high cost of His Son’s sacrifice . . . of being blessed to be part of His living temple through the Spirit . . . of being privileged to minister in that temple with the gifts He’s given us . . . of being mindful that not only do we walk on holy ground but that in Christ we possess holy ground . . . of being jazzed that we GET TO be followers of Christ . . . then, what dynamic would that create as we head into our routine days . . . and as we gather in our routine ways on Sunday. I’m thinking it changes everything!
By God’s grace may we not fall into Korah’s trap. Instead, by God’s Spirit in us, might we grow in appreciation of the privilege that is ours as God’s people . . . that we GET TO serve Him.
By His grace . . . for His glory.