Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Meanwhile, Korah had stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron, and they all gathered at the Tabernacle entrance. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to the whole community, and the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Get away from all these people so that I may instantly destroy them!” But Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground. “O God,” they pleaded, “you are the God who gives breath to all creatures. Must you be angry with all the people when only one man sins?” And the Lord said to Moses, “Then tell all the people to get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.” So Moses got up and rushed over to the tents of Dathan and Abiram, followed by the elders of Israel. “Quick!” he told the people. “Get away from the tents of these wicked men, and don’t touch anything that belongs to them. If you do, you will be destroyed for their sins.” So all the people stood back from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Then Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the entrances of their tents, together with their wives and children and little ones. And Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things that I have done—for I have not done them on my own. If these men die a natural death, or if nothing unusual happens, then the Lord has not sent me. But if the Lord does something entirely new and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them and all their belongings, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have shown contempt for the Lord.” He had hardly finished speaking the words when the ground suddenly split open beneath them. The earth opened its mouth and swallowed the men, along with their households and all their followers who were standing with them, and everything they owned. So they went down alive into the grave, along with all their belongings. The earth closed over them, and they all vanished from among the people of Israel. All the people around them fled when they heard their screams. “The earth will swallow us, too!” they cried. Then fire blazed forth from the Lord and burned up the 250 men who were offering incense. Numbers 16:19-35(NLT)
Have you ever had the experience of a teacher punishing the whole class for the actions of a rowdy few? It’s doesn’t seem fair, does it?
God’s judgment of Korah and his followers seemed overly harsh. Yet, of the people who perished that day, who among them hadn’t been confronted with the truth, and yet chose to stand with Korah’s rebellion? Korah, Dathan, and Abiram may have been the ringleaders, stirring up the community, but the 250 priests carried incense with their own hands.
It’s really hard to figure out what God is up to when it comes to judgment. Perhaps, like me, you have lots of questions about that. For instance, it’s hard to understand why the punishment for Korah’s stubborn desire to serve God at the temple warranted him and his followers being swallowed-up by the ground. On the other hand, Jonah refused to serve God and his one sermon saved 120,000 people in Nineveh. Is that unbalanced?
I do not presume to judge God; quite the contrary, I know God is the only one able to pass judgment, and it is far wiser for me to pay attention to my own ways than to try to hold God accountable for what He does. That would be light years above my pay grade.
Still, in the making sense of it all department, I’ve come to at least one understanding about what appears to be unfairness, or unevenness about God’s judging. It’s a principle given to Samuel the Prophet after King Saul is rejected and Samuel is sent to anoint a new king. As he is looking over the sons of Jesse, Samuel imagines one of the more regal-looking sons as the next king; God tells him to have his vision checked:
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7(NLT)
Therein is why we are not equipped to judge like God judges; we can’t see like God sees!
When you discover something else about God that you don’t understand, before you stand with Korah, kneel with Moses; that will likely improve your vision!
I Title image: By U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos (140403-M-PK171-789) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons