Numbers 16 – Rebelling against God’s leadership

How we can rebel against our leadership

Who gives you the right to tell us what to do?

Numbers 16:1  One day Korah son of Izhar, a descendant of Kohath son of Levi, conspired with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, from the tribe of Reuben. 2They incited a rebellion against Moses, involving 250 other prominent leaders, all members of the assembly. 3They went to Moses and Aaron and said, “You have gone too far! Everyone in Israel has been set apart by the Lord, and he is with all of us. What right do you have to act as though you are greater than anyone else among all these people of the Lord?”

The first way the people rebelled against Moses was to challenge his authority to lord over them or tell them what to do. We can also have a similar reaction in our church. The members challenge the leader’s decision on a topic.

Does that mean that we should never disagree with our leaders? As no two human beings will think alike, we would in all likelihood have differing opinions from our leaders. Yet this passage will teach that it is wise to submit to our leaders.

Does that mean we obey our leaders blindly in everything they ask? One sure area we should not listen our leaders in is when they are going contrary to what God teaches. If we are sure that what the leader advocates is against God, then we can choose not to follow.

Acts 5:29  But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than human authority.

What if the thing the leader advocates is not against God’s laws but just plain bad idea? Then we should have a discussion with the leader and try to find out his point of view. We can also discuss it with other church members to get a wider viewpoint. We should pray for God to show His direction both to us and to the leader.

We want to be doing what you are doing.

8  Then Moses spoke again to Korah: “Now listen, you Levites! 9Does it seem a small thing to you that the God of Israel has chosen you from among all the people of Israel to be near him as you serve in the Lord’s Tabernacle and to stand before the people to minister to them? 10He has given this special ministry only to you and your fellow Levites, but now you are demanding the priesthood as well!

Another way we can rebel against our leaders is to demand to do what they are doing. It is to overstep our authority. A leader has the right to decide on matters such as who should be assigned responsibilities in church, who should get promoted in the church hierarchy, etc. We should not insist on doing the special function that God has placed on our leaders to do.

Going against the church leadership for something God has called them to do

12Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, but they replied, “We refuse to come! 13  Isn’t it enough that you brought us out of Egypt, a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us here in this wilderness, and that you now treat us like your subjects?

The people blamed Moses for bringing them out of Egypt, something that was God’s idea, not Moses. Sometimes our church leadership is simply carrying out instructions from God but the members are angry over it.

For example, our leader may be instructed by God to point out certain sins that the congregation has and the members may not be happy about this. But the leader is merely following the instructions of God.

Being impatient with the church leadership

14What’s more, you haven’t brought us into the land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Are you trying to fool us? We will not come.”

The people were also impatient with Moses. They wanted God’s promises NOW. And they blamed God’s servant for not giving it to them immediately.

We too can become impatient with our church leadership. We know they are moving the church in a certain direction but we want instant results.

Gathering more people to rebel against the leadership

19  Meanwhile, Korah had stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron, and they all assembled at the Tabernacle entrance.

It is not enough that the people rebelled, they stirred up the entire community to rebel against the leader. This is still a common phenomena today. It starts off with one person who has a disagreement with the leader and before long, this person has amassed huge support from other church members. The eventual result is usually a church split.

God’s reaction to the people’s rebellion against His leadership

God will also confirm His leadership

Numbers 17:1Then the Lord said to Moses, 2″Take twelve wooden staffs, one from each of Israel’s ancestral tribes, and inscribe each tribal leader’s name on his staff. 3Inscribe Aaron’s name on the staff of the tribe of Levi, for there must be one staff for the leader of each ancestral tribe. 4  Put these staffs in the Tabernacle in front of the Ark of the Covenant, where I meet with you. 5  Buds will sprout on the staff belonging to the man I choose. Then I will finally put an end to this murmuring and complaining against you.”

If God has really instituted the leader, He will surely confirm it. That is because He wants us to submit to our leader. If this is to be carried out, God has to do His part to ensure that our leaders are who He intends to be.

Rebelling against God’s leader is rebelling against God

Numbers 16:11  The one you are really revolting against is the Lord!

We must not treat rebellion against our leaders lightly. We are actually rebelling against God!

God’s punishment on rebellious people is swift and harsh

Numbers 16:31He had hardly finished speaking the words when the ground suddenly split open beneath them. 32The earth opened up and swallowed the men, along with their households and the followers who were standing with them, and everything they owned. 33So they went down alive into the grave, along with their belongings. The earth closed over them, and they all vanished. 34All of the people of Israel fled as they heard their screams, fearing that the earth would swallow them, too. 35Then fire blazed forth from the Lord and burned up the 250 men who were offering incense.

We should be careful never to rebel against the leadership because God’s punishment is severe.