Rebellion in the church today is a very big problem. It seems a week doesn’t go by where you don’t hear about another church split. All because some were not happy with the direction the Pastor or leadership was taking. Often these rebellions are led by others that have been placed in an area leadership themselves and have trouble submitting themselves to the Pastor.
This is not a new problem. Lucifer led a rebellion in heaven against God because he let pride puff him up and thought he would be a much better one to run things in heaven. Korah a cousin of Moses was another who along with certain Reubenites, Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth rebelled. The Bible says in Numbers 16:1-3 that they became insolent and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, "You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?" They were questioning Moses and Aaron’s authority and leadership which was clearly given by God. How many times have you heard someone say; "Who does that Pastor think He is? I know God just as much if not more then him. God speaks to me too you know! I could probably lead this church better than he can." People just don’’t realize just how dangerous those words are. God does not take kindly to those who lead rebellion and cause division.
Samuel in rebuking king Saul for his rebellion said in I Samuel 15:22-23;"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD ? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry." Saul was rejected as king of Israel because of his rebellion and David was anointed to be the future king. Even so David refused to even consider harming Saul. In 1 Samuel 24:6 David said to his men; "The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD ." and in 1 Samuel 26:9, David said to Abishai when they came upon Saul and his men sleeping; "Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the LORD’s anointed and be guiltless? Anyone, I don’’t care who you are, who comes against someone who has been called and anointed by the Lord is putting themselves in grave danger.
After the challenge by Korah, Moses fell on his face v4. It is a natural thing for a leader to be hurt and feel betrayed when those he has trusted rise up against him. Moses then challenged them v5-11 and said; "In the morning the LORD will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him. You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: Take censers and tomorrow put fire and incense in them before the LORD . The man the LORD chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far! Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the LORD’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. It is against the LORD that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?"
Listen to what some of the men said. It sounds just like a lot Christians today when they are confronted with their rebellion. In v12-14 it says; Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, "We will not come! Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the desert? And now you also want to lord it over us? Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you gouge out the eyes of these men? No, we will not come!" They completely refused to admit to doing anything wrong and refused to be confronted. They had convinced themselves that they were right and Moses and Aaron were wrong. I have seen that same arrogance in many who come against church leadership.
Moses then challenged them again in v16-17; "You and all your followers are to appear before the LORD tomorrow-you and they and Aaron. Each man is to take his censer and put incense in it-250 censers in all-and present it before the LORD . You and Aaron are to present your censers also." In v19-21 it then says; When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the glory of the LORD appeared to the entire assembly. The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once." But Moses and Aaron interceded on their behalf. That has been the way of most of the Pastors I have known. They go before the Lord and intercede for those that are challenging their leadership. But judgement still came to those who caused the rebellion. We read about in verses 23-35. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Say to the assembly, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’ "
Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. He warned the assembly, "Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins." So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.
Then Moses said, "This is how you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: If these men die a natural death and experience only what usually happens to men, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have treated the LORD with contempt."
As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, with their households and all Korah’s men and all their possessions. They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, "The earth is going to swallow us too!"
And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.
You would think that after the rest of Israel had seen the way that God had judged the leaders of the rebellion that it would have ended there. But it didn’t. In verse 41 it says; The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. "You have killed the LORD’s people," they said. But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the Tent of Meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the LORD appeared. Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the Tent of Meeting, and the LORD said to Moses, "Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once." And they fell facedown.
Then Moses said to Aaron, "Take your censer and put incense in it, along with fire from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the LORD ; the plague has started." So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah. Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, for the plague had stopped. Verses 42-50
Have you ever grumbled and wanted to rebel or participated in a rebellion against your leaders or your pastor’s? If so you are putting yourself in a dangerous place. The ground may not swallow you up, but you may find yourself far from God. I have known men and women who came against leadership who have suddenly found themselves with cancer or other diseases that are incurable. Many of them have passed away leaving legacies that have done damage to the body. If you have ever done these things, please repent. There is hope for you. Turn to Christ and seek his forgiveness. Support those that God has placed over you. Pray for them. That God would lead them. Keep yourself guiltless. Also stay away from those who would incite you to rebel. Romans 16:17 says; "I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them." Finally I leave you with Hebrews 13:17; "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you."
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