Numbers 16:1-50 (Part 2) – When You Take Your Eyes Off the Ball…Ya Get Hit in the Head!

Posted: September 15, 2016 in Book of Numbers
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Numbers 16:1-50 (Part 2 of 3)

Korah, Dathan and Abiram

When we take our eyes of the ball flying toward us, we will inevitably will get hit in the head by it. Think about how we take our eyes off the ball sometimes…

 

Your neighbor has a nicer house. Your fellow employee seems to have it all together – smart, politically savvy, good looking. Your see guys who are young and slim. You see women with the perfect figure and the perfect clothes and the perfect kids and it seems like she was never pregnant – somebody must’ve had those kids for her! You see these power couples that are combination of all these things – both slim and fit, wealthy, good looking, living in the finest house, with the finest yard, with the adorable kids, always seemingly being at the right place at the right time, and they seem to have all the right friends, and it all seems to come natural to them. You are jealous because they seem to have everything that you are not. You know the feeling. We have all experienced it before.

 

In church settings, when you are called later in life to be a minister, sometimes you feel like missed some secret class that you were supposed have gone to make you more ministerial. You didn’t go to the how to be a cool pastor of a modern church secret class. You didn’t get your card punched at the right age. You have the desire and the passion to do what they do but you don’t have the credentials. You feel as though you are a step behind and will never catch up. You don’t know the secret handshake and no one is willing to show you. Even in pastoral settings, it is easy to take your eyes off what you are supposed to have your eyes on. I am sure that at times when you are a pastor of a newer church and you are struggling to get past 700 regular attendees and you see the Steve Furticks of the world with their multi-campus churches that are 10 times as large as yours in the practically the same amount of history that you say, “what am I doing wrong?” We are all human even when you work for a church. Jealousy and envy can be really destructive.

 

You know too that you have heard the stories of jealous husbands or wives. The other spouse cannot do anything without being accused of having designs on another man or woman. One constantly accuses the other of having affairs. What was once love is now fear and jealousy. It sometimes gets so bad that the spouse being accused of having affairs actually has one. So, the other spouse through their jealousy actually creates the self-fulfilling prophecy that they were dreading. We have seen it before. Maybe, you have experienced it before. Maybe you have been the jealous one.

 

Maybe you are a high schooler. Maybe you are smart but not super smart. Maybe you are a good athlete but not good enough to be first string. You see the super smart guys and gals at school where everything seems to come naturally. The only advantage that you see there is that they are mostly socially outcasts. Then, there are the jocks that seem to excel and they seem to have this popularity thing down cold and they usually have the pretty girls too. The only advantage you see there is that the jocks are often much less talented than you in the classroom. The worst is when you find the quarterback is actually a straight A student and he has the homecoming queen as his girlfriend and a handful of other girls that would be his girlfriend in a moment’s notice. He is all conference on the football field with scholarship offers from Division 1 colleges. He is the student body president too boot! It drives you nuts. Instead of admiring what seems to be a natural born leader, you hate this person and everything about them because, ironically, they are what you want to be.

 

It is that idea of destructive jealousy that I thought of when I read this rather extended passage for the second time today, Numbers 16:1-50:

 

16 Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent 2 and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. 3 They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”

 

4 When Moses heard this, he fell facedown. 5 Then he said to Korah and all his followers: “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him and who is holy, and he will have that person come near him. The man he chooses he will cause to come near him. 6 You, Korah, and all your followers are to do this: Take censers 7 and tomorrow put burning coals and incense in them before the Lord. The man the Lord chooses will be the one who is holy. You Levites have gone too far!”

 

38 Moses also said to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites! 9 Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? 10 He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. 11 It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together. Who is Aaron that you should grumble against him?”

 

12 Then Moses summoned Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab. But they said, “We will not come! 13 Isn’t it enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to kill us in the wilderness? And now you also want to lord it over us! 14 Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Do you want to treat these men like slaves? No, we will not come!”

 

15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the Lord, “Do not accept their offering. I have not taken so much as a donkey from them, nor have I wronged any of them.”

 

16 Moses said to Korah, “You and all your followers are to appear before the Lord tomorrow—you and they and Aaron. 17 Each man is to take his censer and put incense in it—250 censers in all—and present it before the Lord. You and Aaron are to present your censers also.” 18 So each of them took his censer, put burning coals and incense in it, and stood with Moses and Aaron at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 19 When Korah had gathered all his followers in opposition to them at the entrance to the tent of meeting, the glory of the Lord appeared to the entire assembly. 20 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Separate yourselves from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.”

 

22 But Moses and Aaron fell facedown and cried out, “O God, the God who gives breath to all living things, will you be angry with the entire assembly when only one man sins?”

23 Then the Lord said to Moses, 24 “Say to the assembly, ‘Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’”

 

25 Moses got up and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 He warned the assembly, “Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.” 27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.

 

28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: 29 If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”

 

31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. 33 They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community. 34 At their cries, all the Israelites around them fled, shouting, “The earth is going to swallow us too!”

 

35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

 

36 The Lord said to Moses, 37 “Tell Eleazar son of Aaron, the priest, to remove the censers from the charred remains and scatter the coals some distance away, for the censers are holy— 38 the censers of the men who sinned at the cost of their lives. Hammer the censers into sheets to overlay the altar, for they were presented before the Lord and have become holy. Let them be a sign to the Israelites.”

 

39 So Eleazar the priest collected the bronze censers brought by those who had been burned to death, and he had them hammered out to overlay the altar, 40 as the Lord directed him through Moses. This was to remind the Israelites that no one except a descendant of Aaron should come to burn incense before the Lord, or he would become like Korah and his followers.

 

41 The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “You have killed the Lord’s people,” they said.

 

42 But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the tent of meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. 43 Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting, 44 and the Lord said to Moses, 45 “Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.” And they fell facedown.

 

46 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.” 47 So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. 48 He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. 49 But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah. 50 Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, for the plague had stopped.

 

One of the easiest ways to fall away from following God is to quit looking vertically at him and begin looking horizontally at what others have that you do not. We often look at our own situation and exaggerate the problem. Dothan and Abiram did just that when they began to long for better food and more pleasant surroundings. Egypt, the place they had longed to leave because of their slavery to the Egyptian masters, was now looking better and better – because it had better food. They began to have a warped ideal of what Egypt had been to them. They longed for the better food and made that the ideal place. They had forgotten that the better food came at a high price. They forgot about the slave driving labor that would break the strongest man. They forgot about being defeated at every turn because they were Jews. They only saw the food. These two men and their followers completely lost their perspective.

 

When we take our eyes off God and start looking at ourselves compared to others or to some idealized past or future world, we can lose our perspective as well. When we compare ourselves to what others have that we do not we can lose perspective. When we compare ourselves to others instead of keeping our eyes on God, we will lose perspective. When we focus on what others have that we do not, we lose perspective. When we think we are the only ones who get it and others do not, we lose perspective. When we are jealous of the lifestyle that others have that we do not, we lose perspective. When we are jealous of others who seem to have a better grasp on serving the Lord, we lose perspective. When others have paid their dues over a longer period of time in their service to the Lord but we want what they have and we want it now, we lose perspective. When we want a 7,000 member church when we have a 700 member church, we lose perspective. When we compare ourselves to others in pride or in jealousy, we lose perspective.

 

What are we here for? We are not here to have what others have. We are here to trust the Lord. We are here to serve Him. And, most of all, we are here to love the Lord with the totality of our heart, soul, mind and strength. We are here to be madly in love with the Lord. We are here to be passionately in love with Him. When we have our eyes constantly on that vertical relationship, the horizontal relationships will take care of themselves. When we are madly in love with our Almighty God, we simply serve Him and rely on Him to show us the path to our future. When we are madly in love with the Lord, we work on what is in front of us with all our heart because we know that the Lord has a plan and we trust Him with it. When we are madly in love with the Lord, we do not desire what others have because we see those as decaying things and replaceable things. When we are madly in love with the Lord, it does not mean that we simply lay down and die and just accept things the way they are but it means that giving glory to the Lord in whatever we do is the goal. We trust the Lord to tell us when to fight and when not to. We trust Him so completely that we find joy in every situation that we find ourselves in. Sure, we as Christians must fight injustice but the injustice does not become our God. We fight injustice because it blocks the glory of God being shown to man. When we are in love with the Lord, everything else follows. When we are madly in love with the Lord, we love Him first and when we do that, He will guide us to where we need to be and to do what we need to do. Is there not great contentment in trusting the Lord? Knowing that through our passionate love for Him that He will get us to where we need to be – by His standards and not ours. Boy, does that take the pressure off or what?

 

Let us love the Lord with a full-on, all-in, no holes-barred passion. Everything else will fall into place after that. Not because things happen the way we want them to, but rather because God’s will and His plan become more visible and clear.

 

Amen and Amen.

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