Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why the World is in Woe: The Rebellion of Korah

"Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." (Jude 11)

From self-righteousness through our own efforts to ignoring God's Word and seeking the unrighteousness of the world for ungodly gain, there is the last woe cited by Jude: the Gainsaying of Core.

The King James Version gives a phrase which makes little sense to readers today.

A more accurate translation reads:

Korah perishes in his rebellion

"Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion."

Just as we understand the Way of Cain and the Error of Balaam by referring to the individuals referenced in previous sections of the Bible, so too we find the rebellion which the Holy Spirit cites for our insight:

"1Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: 2And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: 3And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?" (Numbers 16: 1-3)

Korah was one of the priests of Levi, and gathering a large crowd with him, he resisted the authority of Moses and Aaron.

In effect, he challenged Moses' place as leader, since Moses and Aaron through their divinely inspired and called service before the Lord ministered holiness to the entire congregation, what right did they then have to be leaders over them?

Today, men and women think highly of themselves, not realizing that their wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemption comes to us not in and of ourselves, but because of Jesus (1 Corinthians 1: 3)

We are not in ourselves, nor do we have any glory in who we are, but in who Jesus is:

"Apart from me, you can do nothing. "(John 15: 5)

and then

"Herein is love perfected among us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, because as He is, so are we in this world." (1 John 4: 17)

Here, we find a different element of man's perverted search for gain and glory from men rather than receiving all glory from God. Korah believed that amassing princes of renown would grant him presence to pressure away Moses, when all authority comes from God.

Paul the blessed Apostle of the Gospel of Grace affirmed from the outset that his authority came from God:

"1Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) 3Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:" (Romans 1:1-5)

Regarding temporal authorities, their power comes from God, too:

"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God." (Romans 13: 1)

But what do we learn about the gainsaying of Korah from Numbers 16 which defines one of the woes of false teachers today?

Men and women who trust in their own efforts, want to establish their righteousness on their own authority, too. Rather than looking to Jesus our high priest forever (Hebrews 12: 2), they would rather fashion themselves priests and offerings, traditions and trials which showcase their power.

One clear example of this perversion occurred during the time of the judges, when a spoiled boy-man named Micah stole then returned silver to his indulgent mother, which he then made into idols:

"And the man Micah had an house of gods, and made an ephod, and teraphim, and consecrated one of his sons, who became his priest. 6In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes." (Judges 17: 5-6)

The ephods of Micah became a snare to the tribe of Dan, and would usher in an error of unparalleled idolatry among the children if Israel. All of this wickedness begins with man's attempt to justify himself through his efforts rather than resting in the Finished Work of Christ Jesus, all signified by the shedding of blood through the Old Testament.

Man wants to be right in his own eyes, yet the righteousness which man needs must exceed even the righteousness of the most (outwardly) religious (Matthew 5: 20).

While man will claim that he does not have to heed godly authority, he will find that himself and all that he holds dear will fall away:
Korah's Rebellion lead to his ultimate destruction

"31And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them: 32And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods. 33They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation. 34And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, Lest the earth swallow us up also. 35And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense." (Numbers 22: 31-35)

First, we can rest assured that men who promote themselves against God, who claim that they are wiser, who justify themselves and scorn the grace of God, will not go far.

Second, we receive all grace, peace, and holiness as gifts of God, and we are invited to keep receiving them from Him (Romans 5:15-17)

Never at any time do we have anything in this life apart from the grace of God. We are dead in ourselves, and our life is hid in Christ (Colossians 3: 1-4). At no point do we ever claim that we arrive at a place where we do not have to submit to godly authority, that we can be righteous in our own standing, efforts, or capacities.

The world is in great woe today not just from trying to make himself righteous before God in his efforts, or form seeking gain apart from God's Word, but also in rejecting God has final authority, as well as dismissing the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ, of which Moses and Aaron served as a type and shadow to come.

The world faces unprecedented pain and suffering because instead of submitting to the grace of God, man wants to find strength in numbers, hoping that people power can overcome God's authority. Not just in the political realm, where communistic and socialist impulses drive voters and governments, but even in churches the authority of God's Word and the calling of a pastor is falling away in place of congregants who demand sermons and ceremonies which exalt man instead of God.

Today, let us rest in the final authority of Jesus, who holds all things together, who made all things, and who holds preeminence forever. Submission to God is great gain and glory, for God our Father has taken us from dead in our trespasses to alive and seated in heavenly places in His Son (Ephesians 2: 1-6), and this new life, this new identity surpasses the rumblings and rebellion of men, which lead only to man's destruction.

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