What about Korah’s rebellion?

Question: What about Korah’s Rebellion? Doesn’t this prove that one should not question or grumble against their church leaders?

Answer: Sigh… this one is used a lot by religious leaders to try to persuade “their” people to keep in line and “obey”.

Korah’s rebellion (Numbers 16) is a great story. Ironically, it offers a more stern warning to church leaders than to those they lead in my opinion. In a nutshell version of the story, Korah – one of the delegated leaders within the wilderness encampment of Israel  – comes to Moses, along with 250 men. Together they challenge Moses’ authority (16:3). Moses set up a test to see whom God would choose as a leader (16:5), and God chose Moses. God killed Korah and the other 250 leaders – and their families – by allowing the ground to open up and swallow them alive.

Oftentimes, church leaders try to use this story as a warning to those who would dare question their control or authority. This is oftentimes followed with additional statements about how the leader is “appointed” by God and therefore should not be questioned.

What is unfortunately missed or skipped over is that Korah’s problem was not questioning Moses’s leadership, but God’s selection of Moses. Furthermore, Korah wanted himself to be high priest (16:10). His sin was one of pride and arrogance, seeking to place himself into a role that only God ordained. This is strikingly familiar territory to some pastors or priests wanting to take the place of Christ as head over other human beings by promoting themselves as being the “go to” person for someone’s spiritual life.

I believe it’s somewhat narcissistic for any leader to compare themselves with Moses and this story. Doing so is elevating oneself to the level of Moses (whom the scripture describes as the most humble man to ever live).

Moses was clearly chosen by God for the purpose of delivering millions of people from bondage and slavery. His calling was validated by signs, wonders, plagues, and more. I’ve yet to see a church leader demonstrate their calling in even one of the many ways Moses did.  Furthermore, managing the multitudes of Israel was too much for Moses and he, when given the opportunity, was happy to delegate and share most of that responsibility. Yet… do you see this pattern in those who use Korah’s rebellion as a warning that you should not disobey them? I am betting not.


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