Bamidbar (Numbers) 16:1–18:32
Haftarah: I Samuel 11:14–12:22
Do I accept God’s elect? Am I ok with the destiny, gifts, and responsibilities He has given me? Do I trust Him and His plan? These are just a few questions that came to mind as I read this week’s Parasha and Haftarah portions.
In our Parasha, we read of Korah, who was the great grandson of Levi (and cousin of Moses and Aaron), and led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. As a descendant of Levi, Korah was part of the tribe chosen by God to perform the holy work in the Mishkan (Tabernacle – God’s dwelling place). He, along with 250 other influential men from within the tribes of Israel, questioned the authority and position of Moses and Aaron.
I believe that pride, greed, and jealousy were the main causes of this rebellion. I also believe that, in questioning the authority and position of Moses and Aaron, Korah and his crew were questioning God’s authority; they questioned His right to put those whom He chose in the specific tasks that He desired. Basically, no one was satisfied with the roles that God had chosen! Moses recognized this rebellious spirit within the Levis and challenged it when he said Numbers 16:9:
…is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them;
My dear brothers and sisters, when we allow pride, greed, and jealousy to enter our hearts, it will inevitably lead to a rebellious heart. It will bring us to rebel against God’s elect, His will and purpose, and bascially, against God Himself. What results is sin and sin equals death, which is what happens to Korah and his clan (see Numbers 16:31-35).
On the other hand, we see Moses’ submissive heart to the LORD and that he acts not out of personal gain when he responds to the accusations against him:
Then Moses became very angry and said to the LORD, “Pay no attention to their offering! I have not taken a single donkey from them, nor have I done harm to any of them.”
We see even more clearly Moses' humility when he falls on his face before the Lord (verse 4), making himself low, and grieving for this shameful act. Moses knew very well that he was in such a high position only because of the LORD, and not at all because of himself. Moses also demonstrates the way to handle such situations, not by taking matters into his own hands, but rather allowing God to deal with it:
And Moses said, “By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing.”
In our Haftara, we read of the time that the people of Israel declared Saul as king to rule over them:
So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal. There they also offered sacrifices of peace offerings before the LORD; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
1 Samuel 11:15
This was the result of the rebellious heart of the people of Israel against God in that they wanted a king — in the flesh — instead of God Himself. Just like the children of Israel in the desert who again and again rebelled against God’s appointed person, Moses, here we find that they wanted something more; it was not enough for Israel to have Samuel as God’s messenger, and God as their King.
Just like Moses, Samuel had a humble heart and was not seeking personal gain. He even used very similar words to those of Moses when he says:
Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and His anointed. Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I exploited? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to close my eyes with it? I will return it to you.
1 Samuel 12:3
Samuel reminded the people of Israel of the rebellion in the desert during the time of Moses and Aaron, “Then Samuel said to the people, 'It is the LORD who appointed Moses and Aaron and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt.'” (1 Samuel 12:6) and then he warns them to walk with accordance with God’s ways:
If you will fear the LORD and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the LORD, then both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God.
1 Samuel 12:14
I find it amazing that just like with Moses, when God performed a supernatural sign by opening the mouth of the earth to swallow Korah and his people, so He does with Samuel when we read:
"Even now, take your stand and see this great thing which the LORD is going to do before your eyes.Is it not the wheat harvest today? I will call to the LORD, that He will send thunder and rain. Then you will know and see that your wickedness is great which you have done in the sight of the LORD, by asking for yourselves a king.” So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.
1 Samuel 12:16–18
In closing, I'd like to return to my opening questions: Do I accept God’s elect? Am I ok with the destiny, gifts, and responsibilities that He gave me? Do I trust Him and His plan?
My dear brothers and sisters, we His followers believe in a living God that can do all things beyond our imagination. He is in control over all the earth, over whatever political power is in control, and whatever leader there is in our lives. We need to guard our hearts to make sure that we accept His plan and not allow a rebellious spirit to enter our lives in any form or shape.
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