HOLY COW! This may be “old hat” for some of you, but I just read a story for the first time in my life.
Background: Moses and Aaron have been implementing a ton of rules from the Lord – hundreds of rules about sin, sacrifice etc. (See Numbers 1-15) In Numbers 15, someone breaks the Sabbath – this is the first time it happens so Moses and Aaron pray for the appropriate punishment – God says stoning. Do you feel like that’s a little rough? Would you have urged them to reconsider?
Here it is: Korah (a Levite – you’ve got to read this post to understand more about the responsibilities of the Levites) gathers two families and 250 chief priests together and rebel (just in speech) and say, “You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord.” (Numb 16:3)
Moses’ Response: (worship leaders and other non-senior pastors, you’ve GOT to get this) “It it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel to bring you near to himself, to do service in the tabernacle of the Lord and to stand before the congregation to minister to them, and that he has brought you near him…what is Aaron that you grumble against him?” Did you get that? Do you understand what’s happening? They enjoy eating from everyone else’s fruit (they get a take off of the sacrifices from the tabernacle), they live near the presence of God (they actually are distanced from the rest of Israel.) Those closest to the King – set to minister to the Lord and His people, to watch His house are not worried about everyone else – they don’t like being told what to do!
The Result: They die. The two families are swallowed by the earth and the 250 chief priests are killed with fire. The people grumble the next day about the destruction Moses has caused. God begins a plague among His people and Moses and Aaron begin to make atonement for them and only 14,700 die.
This has some crazy deep implications for church leadership today. Make no mistake – character issues and sin has to be addressed within church leadership – but the rebellion cloaked in “caring leadership” brings death to the leaders, and even worse – to the camp.
I’ve got to chew on this one…