Avoiding the Rebellion of Korah

Avoiding the Rebellion of Korah

While the story of Cain killing his brother may be commonly known, the rebellion of Korah is quite obscure.

Korah was from the tribe of Levi; he and the other Levites were assigned God-given tasks to serve in the temple; they were set apart for this. However, they were not to serve as priests; that fell only to Aaron and his descendants.

Korah didn’t like these distinctions. He advocated that all people were holy, had God (the Holy Spirit) in them, and should be elevated to the level of priests. (Interestingly, these were something that Jesus would later proclaim and that his followers would embrace, but in Korah’s time this was not the case. There were distinctions and that’s how God wanted it at that time.)

Korah stirred up some followers, insisting on equal status for all. Then he and Moses had the equivalent of a modern-day smackdown. Moses won and was affirmed by God. Korah lost—big time. The ground beneath him opened up and he and his family fell in and died. God squashed the rebellion of Korah.

Today, we would hail Korah as a martyred reformer who pursued justice and equality, advocating that anyone can approach God.

Although Jesus would later usher in these changes, those were not the expectations God had put in place in Korah’s day. God had a different plan then, and, no matter how well intended, Korah opposed it. He will forever be associated with a failed uprising against God: the rebellion of Korah.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Numbers 16-18, and today’s post is on Numbers 16.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality, often with a postmodern slant. He seeks a fresh approach to faith and following God through the lens of scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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