The Rebellion of Korah

Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion. (Jude 11)

Korah is the last of the three men Jude mentions who serve as eternal warnings. He is last, but by no means least!

Every time the people of God came to the temple of God to worship, they would see a sign that was to remind them of Korah's rebellion and warn them to steer clear from his folly. The bronze plating around the altar, where the people came to offer their sacrifices, was made from the hammered out censers from Korah and his followers. [Nu 16:39-40]

Nor is he just a warning under the old covenant. Jude makes that clear. His warning is just as relevant to us who are under the grace of the New Covenant.

What was Korah's rebellion? Let's have a look at what he said:

They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, "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?” (Nu 16:3)

Korah basically makes two statements and then a conclusion:
Statement 1: All of God's people are holy.
Statement 2: God dwells in the midst of his people, whoever they are.
Conclusion: I've got just as much right to minister as you - so move over!

What is interesting is that although Korah's conclusion was wrong, his statements were spot on! In fact it shows that he had understanding, insight and revelation that went beyond many of his peers, for these are truths that do not fully come out until the New Testament.

Korah did not perish because of theological error - he perished because of his rebellion!

This is a sober lesson. It shows you can be right, and still be wrong! That is, your understanding and revelation is correct, but the way you go about communicating it or acting upon it is all wrong!

One of the most fundamental aspects of God's Kingdom is that it operates under authority. Not a democracy, certainly not a free-for-all, and not even a meritocracy. All authority belongs to God. Those who exercise authority in God's kingdom only have it because it has been delegated to them by God's choice and not because they necessarily deserved it more than others, and never because they decided to take it!

Consider the example of Christ:

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, (Ph 2:6)

If anyone was worthy to take authority for himself it was Jesus. Yet he did not grasp at authority, but rather submitted to it. He only did what he saw his father doing, even though he was the very equal to God the Father himself.

Jesus showed us the way of the Kingdom. You do not grasp at what you think you deserve, but humble yourself and allow God to raise you up:

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name (Ph 2:9)

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you (1Pe 5:6)

You see Korah, although he had the correct understanding, had the wrong attitude. He thought he could short-circuit the need for authority amongst God's people and elevate himself in the process. As such, he bears the pattern not of Christ, but of Satan!

You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north. (Isa 14:13)

Jude describes such men as "wandering stars". This is a useful illustration. God arranged the stars in he heavens as he saw fit. Assigning a glory (brightness) and position to each. The brightest are not always at the top, nor are the ones at the bottom the most dim. The stars often represent the people of God in the scriptures.

The attitude of Satan was that he would exalt himself above the stars of God. He wanted a glory and a position that had not been given to him. He did have glory and position, but he was not content with that, he wanted more.

Likewise the "wandering stars" are not those who are devoid of influence, revelation or gifting in the Church. Korah shows this is not the case. It is those who "wander" outside of the measure and sphere of authority they have been given and seek to take a position which does not belong to them.

The priesthood of all believers does not equate to the eldership of all believers! There is still a godly order in God's house that must be submitted to. Those who think they can be their own source of authority, or who want to set themselves against those whom God has appointed for that role, had better take another look at Korah... and learn fast!

You may think you know better; you may even be right! But the path of blessing is never found outside of the way of submission to Godly authority.

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