We love to corrupt the Gospel to suit our own purposes, don’t we? This morning, I read the story of Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16. Angry that things were not going to their liking in the wilderness, Korah and 250 of his well-respected friends conspire to confront Moses and Aaron over their spiritual leadership of Israel. “You have gone too far!”, they tell Moses and Aaron. “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?” I can’t help at this point to reflect back on Moses’ continual reluctance to lead (see Exodus 4:10-13, for example) and laugh at Korah’s statement. Moses and Aaron had not exalted themselves at all. God had chosen them. As Moses points out, Korah and his followers’ complaint was with God alone (Numbers 16:11). Needless to say, it does not go well for Korah and his conspirators. It is a dangerous thing to challenge the authority of the Lord.
Yet we still do it. We still refuse to submit to God’s plan, preferring to democratize the gospel.
- We exalt ourselves instead of humbling ourselves. Ironically, Korah and his men prove themselves guilty of the very charge they brought against Moses and Aaron in verse 3. The gospel, which is offered in the ultimate act of humility (Philippians 2:5-8), cannot be received without great humility (Luke 9:23-27).
- We demand a life of comfort instead of finding contentment in submitting to God in faith and obedience. Korah and his people are already romanticizing their life in slavery in Egypt (verses 13-14). Their relationship with God is predicated on entitlement. If we can’t have “the good life”, we want no part of God’s plan. The great irony of this, of course, is that we have no idea what a “good” life really is. As C.S. Lewis said in The Weight of Glory, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
- We want to approach God on our terms, instead of His. In verses 36-40, and again in the beautiful picture of Christ in verse 48, we are reminded that we need a Mediator between us and God. The only way into His holy presence is through His divinely appointed means. Any other way results in certain destruction and death – verses 31-35 and verse 49.
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). Amen!