If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.
The great mutiny.
Korach, Abiram and Dathan were all leaders within their respective tribes. Korach was a Levite and the other two were from the tribe of Reuben. They came against Moses and Aaron with accusations of tyranny, in that they accused Moses and Aaron of taking on all the authority of leadership. Korach said that they all God’s people should share in the leadership and offerings, not just Moses and Aaron.
Essentially, they were saying, “Who died and left you both in charge?”
These three had convinced 250 other men, all leaders within the 12 tribes, to follow them and God had them all bring their offering pans to the front of the Tent of Meeting. What happened next was terrible: at the tent of the three who started this rebellion Moses said if these men were correct then they would live long lives, but if they were wrong then the earth would split open and swallow them alive. As soon as he was done speaking, the earth did split open and swallowed Korach, Dathan and Abiram and their family alive, then it came back over them. At the same moment, fire came out from the Tent of Meeting and incinerated the 250 men. The fire was so hot the fire pans, made of bronze, were all melted.
You would think that would satisfy the people that Moses and Aaron were God’s choice, but it didn’t. The very next morning the people accuse Moses and Aaron of murdering God’s people, and God is so angry he sends a plague out that kills tens of thousands. The plague was stopped only when Aaron risked his life by carrying embers from the eternal flame in his fire pan directly into the crowd where the plague was running wild to stop it. God commanded that the 12 tribal leaders and Aaron place their staffs in the Tent of Meeting to show God’s choice of leader, and in the morning nothing changed except for Aaron’s staff, which not only grew buds but had ripened almonds on it. God then charged the Levites to surround the Tent of Meeting and that they should not allow any of the common people (non-Levites) to come close to it, or to inter-marry with them or have them partake of any of the holy foods. The Levites were to be separated and apart from the rest of the tribes, with no inheritance or job other than the service of the Tabernacle. They are also to give a tithe from the tithes they receive.
The Haftorah reading for this parashah is 1 Samuel, 11-13, which is the story of Samuel anointing Shaul as the first king. The reasoning is that both Moses and Samuel had to take a rag-tag group of people and form them into a nation, all the while being accountable to God and subject to the same rules and laws that the people were. Whereas Korah rebelled against the leadership of Moses, the people (in the Haftorah) rebelled against Samuel by asking for a king.
I think this Haftorah choice is a good one, but I would add one more thing. I would add Micah 6:8 to the reading, which says:
He has told you, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Today’s drash is about the motivation behind Korach’s rebellion, which is obviously jealousy and an over-active desire for power. He thought he was also entitled to be in charge. It is obvious from the influence he had that he was, indeed, an authoritative and important person in his own right. But that wasn’t enough. He found like-minded men in Dathan and Abiram, and their combined influence allowed their little rebellion to grow from just those 3 to a total of 250 people. Jealousy and a desire for power were the motivations, but was that the real cause of their rebellion?
I believe this rebellion was not the result of desiring something but from the lack of something. That something that was lacking was…humility.
The grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence and we humans don’t seem to be satisfied with anything. It is ironic that sometimes those who have the least are generally the ones that are most satisfied with what they do have. The rich only want to get richer and when we have plenty we still want to have more. Proverbs 15:17 tells us it is better to have a meal of vegetable in a house full of love than meat in a house full of strife, meaning that appreciating what you have it is better than having but not appreciating it. We also get this same message in Ecclesiastes, where no less than three times we are told to simply eat, drink and be merry and to enjoy whatever God has provided, for that is our lot in life.
Clearly the men in this rebellion did not have the humility to accept God’s chosen leaders or what God had provided for them. Korach was a leader in the tribe of Levite, but he wanted more because he didn’t appreciate the position of importance God had given him. The same went for Abiram and Dathan. As for the 250 men that followed them we are not really told anything about their motivation, but it seems safe to say they were also wanting to have more.
I have often said pridefulness is the mother of all sin, and lack of humility is a symptom of pridefulness. We must be humble in our lives if we are to be able to serve the Lord. That means accepting what we have and appreciating what God has done for us, every day. I am not saying we should sit by idly and not try to improve ourselves or our financial situations. I am saying that we are to be appreciative for what God has given us and share it willingly with others. We are to respect God’s choice of leadership just as Shaul (Paul) said we should in Romans 13:1:
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.
Finally, trust that God is in charge and will provide what you need. If you want a better job, ask yourself why? Is it only to make more money and have more “toys”? If so, maybe that’s not the best reason. However, if you want a new job so you can be a better provider for your family that is unquestionably a proper reason for wanting more, and when you pray to God for help he will help you.
We must remain humble in our attitude towards God and towards each other. We must be satisfied with God’s provision and make sure that whatever we want, it is for the proper reasons. We can want more, but not if it is for selfish reasons, such as just to have more money, power or influence.
Wanting that is a result of prideful desire will only lead to ruin, whereas a humble desire to do more to please God and provide for others will yield blessings.