Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Better Is One Day--Korah's Rebellion & Psalm 84

Better Is One Day—Korah’s Rebellion & Psalm 84

According to an ancient Greek legend, a certain athlete ran well but placed second in the race. The winner was encompassed with praise, and eventually a statue was erected in his honor. Envy ate away at the man who had placed second. He resented the winner, and he could think of little else. Eventually he decided to destroy the statue of the winner.

Night after night, he went to the statue. Under cover of darkness, he chiseled away at the base to weaken the foundation. But one night as he chiseled in violent anger, he went too far. The heavy marble statue teetered on its base and crashed down on the disgruntled athlete. He died beneath the weight of the marble replica of the man he had grown to hate. His own envy had destroyed him.

Leslie Flynn—The envious man feels other’s fortunes are his misfortunes; their profit, his loss; their blessing, his bane; their health, his illness; their promotion, his demotion; their success, his failure.

Billy Graham—Envy can ruin reputations, split churches, and cause murders. Envy can shrink our circle of friends, ruin our business, and dwarf our souls… I have seen hundreds cursed by it.

Human nature hasn’t changed much since biblical times. We always seem to want what somebody else has got. We are rarely if ever satisfied with what we have. We want more, we want to be noticed, we want the prominence from having everyone look to us. We want to be our own boss and not be answerable to anyone.

That happened in the life of Moses in Numbers 16. Here we see an incident of rebellion against Moses and Aaron by a man who wanted more. He was even able to convince some 250 other leaders and “elite men” of the people to go along with him.

Numbers 16:1-3

1. Korah Wanted More
a. This was a Planned Event. They organized many prominent leaders to oppose Moses. They came “as a group”, so it wasn’t just a random, spontaneous, thrown together event.

b. Their charge was that Moses had "gone too far" in taking the role of spiritual leadership of the people

c. They claimed, Everybody is Holy, not just you, Moses—your prominence has clouded your mind to where you think you are better than all of us. We are just as Holy as you are—you’re no better than we are.

d. The LORD is with the People not just you. That means the LORD is with us as well. It was Your leadership that failed to take us to the Promised Land

e. How do we know that God put you in the position and not your own self-importance?

f. If the whole community is equally holy, then Moses and Aaron had no special access or privilege with the Lord nor special authority over them.

g. Korah wanted more, he wanted to replace Moses with someone else. Guess who he had in mind?

2. The Challenge-- Numbers 16:4-11
a. “Isn’t it Enough”—Moses is reminding Korah what God has done with him and what his duties are. In other words, God hadn’t left them out, hadn’t thought they were unusable. God had a specific ministry in mind for them.

b. God Separated them and Brought them Near to Himself. Is there anything greater in life than knowing this? God did this for a purpose, so they could
c. Work at the Lord’s Tabernacle
d. Stand before the Community and Minister to them

e. Korah’s family had a great and important calling. Duties—Korah was descended from Levi through Kohath. As a Kohathite he had high duties in the service of the Lord at the tabernacle (see 4:1-20),

NU 4:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 2 "Take a census of the Kohathite branch of the Levites by their clans and families. 3 Count all the men from thirty to fifty years of age who come to serve in the work in the Tent of Meeting.

NU 4:4 "This is the work of the Kohathites in the Tent of Meeting: the care of the most holy things.

NU 4:15 "After Aaron and his sons have finished covering the holy furnishings and all the holy articles, and when the camp is ready to move, the Kohathites are to come to do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. The Kohathites are to carry those things that are in the Tent of Meeting.

f. But Korah desired something higher. His passion was to assume the role of priest.

g. Even though the primary care of these holy things was given to the Kohathites, they were forbidden to touch them (v. 15)--or even to look on them (v. 20)--lest they die.

h. Their restrictions are much like the angels who surround the throne of God in Isaiah 6 who shielded their faces and feet from His presence (cf. Isa 6:1-3). This was a warning to Korah’s family that they were to shield themselves from becoming too familiar and comfortable with the holiest of things (v. 5); for most holy things symbolize the presence of the most holy God.

i. The warning was necessary--All the work of the Kohathites was to be strictly supervised by Aaron and his sons, and only the priests themselves were able to touch and look on the unveiled holy things. When these restrictions were not followed, like Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10, they fell down and died.

j. So Korah had the privilege of carrying the holiest things of God, they had the privilege of coming into the Tent of Meeting.
k. Something the vast majority of Israelites could not do and if they ever tried, they would have died.

l. God had called them to serve Him in a certain way. God had given them that honor, and yet, it wasn’t enough. They wanted more.

m. They saw what Moses and Aaron were able to do even more by communicating with God, by touching and looking at the Most Holy Things and because they were able to do things no one else was permitted to do, Korah and others envied them.

n. Sometimes all you have to do to make a child to something or want something is to tell them you can’t do it.

o. Korah began to feel slighted by God, denied, so they took out their jealousy and coveting on Moses and Aaron.

p. God had blessed them with a special ministry that no one else had and they were not satisfied with it. What special ministry has God given to you? Are you giving yourself fully to that service or just going through the motions? Do you realize the privilege of going before the throne of Grace and worshipping Him in ways that no one else can?

q. Is teaching a child about Jesus, or some other VBS service, too munane, or enough , even though it can impact eternity

r. On the flip side, how often do you compare yourself to others? Other’s ability to sing, play intstruments, teach, witness, pray, be organized or minister? Do you resent them? Do you resent yourself for not doing more? Do you blame God for, in your mind, not using you for bigger and better things? And yet, we are One Body with many necessary parts.

s. Korah had let envy erode his passion for serving God. It poisoned him, and it can poison you. This poison led him to Challenge Moses and God to pove why Moses should be in charge and why things were set up the way they were. It lead to a Showdown

3. The Showdown—v. 16-19,
a. Korah and 250 challenged so Moses called for a showdown. Essentially Moses was saying “If Korah and his followers think they should be able to serve as priests, and change the ministry God has given them, then lets find out how the LORD responds to their ministry.”

b. V.—28-33—Clearly the LORD had rejected their challenge to Moses and their dissatisfaction with the privilege they had to serve Him. That kind of rejection of God’s Blessing and God’s Will had some serious consequences. God made sure everyone understood what had happen.

c. They experienced “something totally new” that could not be explained with coincidence. Even their families experienced judgment with them.

d. Don’t ever think your sin doesn’t affect those around you. I suspect Korah’s heart had also poisoned the hearts of his family by his constant complaining, and bitterness to where they no longer thought of Moses as their leader.

e. But amazingly the story of Korah and his descendants doesn’t end there. Very likely, he had sons that had grown up and set up their own houesholds who didn't agree with what daddy was doing. We need to look at the “rest of the story” as Paul Harvey says.

4. The Blessing/Restoration—Psalm 84
a. Still God’s mercy was at work. It turns out that there are survivors of Korah's family who extend all the way to the time of David and beyond. Numbers 26:10-11 tells us that even though Korah and his family were swallowed by the earth, his line did not die out. King David would later call upon Korah’s descendants to serve in the temple as singers.

b. Many of them were responsible for the crafting of numerous Psalms. I want to focus on one of those Psalms today. Turn to Psalm 84.

c. Before we read, remember that Korah and his family were not permitted into the Holy Place or the Holy of Holies, they were only permitted as Levites to go into the outer court of the Tabernacle. And they were jealous of Moses and Aaron for their right to go into and serve before the Presence of God, but notice how their heart, that bad attitude has changed while we read this Psalm.

d. READ Psalm 84
e. V. 1-2—

f. God’s Dwelling Place is Beautiful—it is a thing their eyes enjoy looking upon as someone stops to watch the sunset

g. My soul yearns, even faints, for the courts of the LORD--. They didn’t yearn or faint to be in the holy of holies, to be serving in some other capacity, they were yearning for the opportunity to serve in the place that God had given them. They were truly thankful that God has blessed them with the opportunity to minister in His courts. His courts were enough. They wanted all that God had given them and not what He had given to someone else.

h. Much like Jacob, as he was wrestling with God would not let go until God blessed him. Jacob was yearning for his own blessing, before he had deceived his brother for his birthright, he had deceived his father Isaac for Esau’s blessing, now he wanted the blessing that was his and no one else’s.

i. The sons of Korah’s attitude had radically changed. They now considered it, not just a blessing, but THEIR blessing to be in the courts of the LORD. And they wouldn’t trade it for anything, they wouldn’t want it any other way. Envy had been replaced with Appreciation & Joy.

j. Look down to V. 10
Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

k. The legacy of their Forebears was with them, they fully understood what it meant to try and go beyond God’s Desire & Design. But they realized the Privilege of serving God in the capacity He assigned.

l. 1 Corinthians 12:18—“But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”

m. They would rather serve in the capacity God had given them; in the courts, the place they had previously rejected, than anywhere else. They finally realized that it is a privilege to be in the courts before His altar where the sacrifices were burned and consumed, where sin was atoned for, where fellowship offerings were freely given.

n. Even a “Menial” task, when used to Glorify God is a Tremendous Honor. In fact, they are vital. 1 Corinthians 12:21-23—“The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor.”

o. It was a greater honor to serve for one day in His courts, than 1000 elsewhere. They would rather have a menial or seemingly insignificant duty like a “doorkeeper” in God’s courts than be among the wicked, because those tents are ultimately swallowed up and those lives are a waste even though they are alive.

p. Nothing was more important, nothing was a greater privilege than serving their God and being in His presence.

q. They recognized the Blessing God had given them. They realized they had been Restored to God’s service. They learned that mistakes and sins of the past, cannot hold you back from serving God when forgiveness is given and received.

r. It was and is a privilege to serve and awesome God and be in His presence. Does that describe your heart today? You are in His presence daily, and in every moment. You are serving Him when you pray, when you sing, when you serve even the menial tasks. No service is unimportant or unnoticed.

s. Do you see the Blessings He has for you? Are you living in His blessing by fulfilling His role for your life?
t. Does your heart and flesh cry out for the Living God? Do you want to be in His presence, day in and day out? Do you consider it a joy and a privilege to serve in whatever manner He has gifted you? Do you ask and seek to see His beauty?

u. This week, we will be ministering to children. Do you consider these tasks menial or below your talents or abilities? Truthfully, you may not ever have a greater opportunity to impact eternity than in the lives of one of these kids—not only their lives, but their families now and future, or the ones they may lead to Christ.

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