One day Korah son of Izhar, a descendant of Kohath son of Levi, conspired with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, from the tribe of Reuben. They incited a rebellion against Moses, involving 250 other prominent leaders, all members of the assembly. They went to Moses and Aaron and said, “You have gone too far! Everyone in Israel has been set apart by the LORD, and he is with all of us. What right do you have to act as though you are greater than anyone else among all these people of the LORD?” - Numbers 16:1-3
Chuck Colson, the former White House aide, says, “Power, privilege, position, prestige, and parties—these are the perks of politics.” No doubt there are many men who enter politics with a deep desire to further the well-being of their society. But for others, it is the “perks” that woo them into political life. The opportunity to exercise power and to gain prestige brings its own rewards. Of course, those who hold the power do not relinquish it readily, and those who crave it don’t always use the most benign methods to gain it. The results are often power plays—and they can be ugly (the 2000 Presidential election being a case in point).
Korah is a fine example of power-play politics. Korah was a Levite who had special responsibilities and privileges. But this was not enough for him. He resented Moses’ authority, claiming that everybody was equal and, accordingly, Moses had no right to exercise leadership over anyone else. Korah said, “You have gone too far! Everyone in Israel has been set apart by the Lord, and he is with all of us. What right do you have to act as though you are greater than anyone else among all these people of the Lord?” (Num. 16:3). To reinforce his point, Korah “incited a rebellion against Moses, involving 250 . . . members of the assembly” (16:2).
As is often the case in matters of contention, there was a germ of truth in what the disaffected were saying. The people of Israel had all been set apart by the Lord for himself, and the Lord was certainly with all of them. In that the contenders were perfectly correct.
But Korah and his friends were still the ones who had “gone too far” (16:7). While they were all set apart for the Lord in one sense, there was another sense in which each one had his allotted place in the divine economy. But they were not willing to acknowledge this—they wanted to rise above their own allotted place and deny Moses his. Korah was a Levite; he was not a priest. Moses was the leader of Israel; he was not subservient to Korah and his 250 rebels. And it was the Lord who had determined these roles. As Moses pointed out to Korah & Company, “The one you are really revolting against is the Lord!” (16:11). Korah and his collaborators were attempting a power play. In response, the Lord made Moses’ leadership abundantly clear. Unfortunately, not every power play is as quickly remedied.
Ultimate authority resides with the Lord—he delegates as he chooses. So embrace what he grants you and avoid grasping for what isn’t yours. Otherwise, you might be fighting God. And you could get burned!
For Further Study: Numbers 16:1-15
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
For more from Stuart Briscoe, please visit TellingtheTruth.org.