Tuesday after Reminiscere
Scripture: Numbers 16:1-22 (NKJV)
1 Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; 2 and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. 3 They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”
4 So when Moses heard it, he fell on his face; 5 and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him. That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him. 6 Do this: Take censers, Korah and all your company; 7 put fire in them and put incense in them before the Lord tomorrow, and it shall be that the man whom the Lord chooses is the holy one. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!”
8 Then Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi: 9 Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; 10 and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also? 11 Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the Lord. And what is Aaron that you complain against him?”
12 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, but they said, “We will not come up! 13 Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us? 14 Moreover you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!”
15 Then Moses was very angry, and said to the Lord, “Do not respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them.”
16 And Moses said to Korah, “Tomorrow, you and all your company be present before the Lord—you and they, as well as Aaron. 17 Let each take his censer and put incense in it, and each of you bring his censer before the Lord, two hundred and fifty censers; both you and Aaron, each with his censer.” 18 So every man took his censer, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and stood at the door of the tabernacle of meeting with Moses and Aaron. 19 And Korah gathered all the congregation against them at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the congregation.
20 And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 21 “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.”
22 Then they fell on their faces, and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?”
The events of the Exodus had many twists and turns, even stops and starts. Today’s reading follows the events at Kadesh-Barnea, where the people refused to move forward in spite of the Lord’s urging. Then they changed their minds and decided to advance without the Lord’s protection. Without Divine intervention, the Israelites were defeated by the Amalekites and Canaanites. Now they turned on their leaders, Moses and Aaron, the ones who’d been faithful all along: “They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, ‘You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?'” (16:3).
Korah, the leader of the “gang,” conspired against Moses and Aaron. Not being content with the position of being a “mere Levite,” Korah challenged their callings by declaring that the entire nation was holy. The absurdity of his claim is self-evident when we recall the godless ways of the people since departing Egypt.
Our sinful human nature desires power. It has been that way since the Garden, when the Serpent tempted Eve with being Godlike. How often we must repent of our sinful ways, and suppress the old Adam who continually tries to rise up and take charge.
Prayer: Dear God, help us to daily confess the prominence of our Old Adam. May we find our sole identity in the humility of being Your chosen people. Amen.