The Offense

“Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, ‘Do not regard their offering! I have not taken a single donkey from them, nor have I done harm to any of them.’ “ Numbers 16:15

Moses directed his anger at a spirit of rebellion that was gnawing at the soul of the people of Israel. Like a flesh eating cancer, rebellion was destroying the body life of the camp.

Korah’s rebellion was generated by his desire to take the place of Moses. He considered himself well equipped to usurp the God-given leadership roles of Moses and Aaron.

Self-righteous, prideful posers won’t humble themselves. They crave to be in authority, but refuse to be under authority. They always steal what they want from God-ordained leaders. They do it under the guise of protecting the rights of the oppressed majority. By manipulating the emotions of those they claim to represent, they try to build a sympathetic following.

“You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” V. 3

Never forget this. Rebellion is all about the rights of the rebel, not the rights others. Pious posers may speak softly, and smile at your face, but they intend to get their way by going behind your back.

When Moses was accused of leading the people of Israel in the wrong direction, his first reaction was to fall on his face before God. His anger was not just driven by a desire to be vindicated. It was a call for the worship of the rebellious to be invalidated.

“Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His, and who is holy, and will bring him near to Himself; even the one whom He will choose, He will bring near Himself.” V. 5

As personal as the attack was, Moses chose not to dwell on the personal nature of it. Moses recognized rebellion for what it truly was, and what it always is. Rebellion is an end run around God, using God-given leaders as speed bumps.

Moses said to Korah, “Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the LORD; ” V. 11

Moses was attacked because he had not met the expectations of people who were unsatisfied with the provision and Presence of God. The last straw for Moses was the unwillingness of those under the influence of Korah’s rebellion, to step up and to seek a righteous remedy. They complained,

“You have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey.” V. 14

There is no way a leader can ever provide satisfaction to those who are discontent with God’s leadership, and companionship. Just because Moses chose not to take offense over the rebellions remarks directed towards him does not mean the comments were not offensive. He did the best thing a leader can do under the circumstances. He took the offensive attacks to God, and trusted Him to sort it out.  He always does.

“And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation. Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly. But they fell on their faces and said, “O God, God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, will You be angry with the entire congregation?’ “ V. 22

It was the intercession of Moses and Aaron that moved God to measure His wrath towards the rebellious. Make no mistake about it. God measured His wrath, but He drew the line at associating with the rebellious behavior of unrepentant rebels.

“Depart now from the tents of these wicked men,…or you will be swept away by their sin.” V. 26

After the earth swallowed up the dwellings of the rebels, “Fire also came forth from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense.” V. 35

God’s measured wrath did not end the rebellion. The very next day the murmuring began, and God’s correction continued.  

 “But on the next day all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron, saying, ‘You are the ones who have caused the death of the Lord’s people.’ “ V. 41

NOTE TO SELF: Pray for God’s mercy, but pray for people to repent. Never pray to postpone God’s righteous correction. It may very well bring about repentance.  Pray for God’s mercy, but pray for genuine repentance on the part of the people of God.

Moses took His anger to the LORD in prayer. Just because you choose not to take offense does not mean something was not offensive. Tell it to Jesus.  Interceding is not whining. Prayer releases the offense, and leaves it in the hands of God. Don’t ignore or protect rebellious people. Call them to repentance. If they don’t’ turn to Him, turn from them.