Numbers 16–18: Korah, an early anti-Messiah

There are no shortcuts to holding a position of authority in God’s kingdom. People who try to take shortcuts to greatness will not prosper in the end. Just as Aaron and Moses are examples of how God and Yeshua interact with each other, Korah is an example of the “spirit of antichrist” (1John 4:3).

“If you can’t be a good example, then you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.” —Catherine Aird (Kinn Hamilton McIntosh, 1930–)

This fits very well this week’s Torah reading, aptly named קֹרַח Korakh/Korach, after the leader of this merry band of rebels.

Aaron’s rod sprouted with Almond flowers and ripe almonds which represents the eyes of God, which shows us that God’s eyes are always open. It blossoms early, in the winter, when it it still dark and the fruit comes late. God’s eyes are open and can see even in the dark places and times.

God sees all the tribes but God chose the tribe of Levi and the family of Aaron in particular to serve Him directly. God speaks in symbols a lot.

The sons of Levi were tasked to care for the Tabernacle. All the sins of the children of Israel came to them. They all were, in a sense, intercessors for the children of Israel. They were paid from the tithes and sacrifices. They didn’t receive a land inheritance, a province or state within the Commonwealth of Israel. A king owns everything, a High Priest owns nothing.

Korah complained and wanted Aaron’s job. He wanted Aaron’s holiness, which he perceived as a source of power. He twisted God’s promise to make Israel a unique nation among the Gentiles as a prerogative for himself and a political trick to convince others to agree with him.

“When Moses heard this, he fell on his face; and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, ‘Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His, and who is holy, and will bring him near to Himself; even the one whom He will choose, He will bring near to Himself. Do this: take censers for yourselves, Korah and all your company, and put fire in them, and lay incense upon them in the presence of the LORD tomorrow; and the man whom the LORD chooses shall be the one who is holy. You have gone far enough, you sons of Levi!’” (Numbers 16:4–7 NASB)

If Korah though he and his fellow Levite rebels could pass the test Moses puts forth here, then the lesson of Aaron’s son Nadab and Abihu (who had died just 6 months or so before) has been lost on him and he lost all fear and respect for the God he wants to replace Aaron in representing.

Korah wanted more than what God gave him. He coveted Aaron’s position and broke the 10th commandment. In Korah’s eyes, God made a mistake by giving Aaron the position of High Priest rather than him. The Apostle Paul tells us in Colossians 3:5 that coveting is a form of idolatry.

God will give you more when you master the task God has currently placed upon you. Korah had not mastered what he was given. Korah missed out on the fact that he had the privilege of seeing some of the inner workings of the tabernacle and maintaining them. However, his descendants did better than him. Korah’s descendants perfected praise and worship to such a degree that they wrote many of the Psalms.

The descendants of Korah did their work, did it well and then offered their praise.

Korah is not the only power-hungry rebel in this story, however. Every generation has their Korahs.

What is the spirit of Korah? How do we spot it? Apostle Yokhanan’s second letter (2nd John) tells us what to look for:

“Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.

“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

“Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full.” (2 John 1:5–12 NASB)

They transgress the commandments, they do not abide in the Messiah and they do not walk in love.

Korah lifted himself up above Aaron and became a type of antichrist that the Apostle John warned us to avoid.

Aaron and his sons had to go through a lot of examination, sacrifices and consecration before they could do the work God assigned him. Korah wants to take a shortcut to authority and power. He is trying to go around God’s clear instruction.

How do we avoid being like Korah? We should accept whatever job or task God has placed upon us, do it well and ask God to help us do it even better. When God sees that we do well with small things, he will give us bigger things to do.

The Gospel reading that corresponds with today’s Torah portion can be found in Luke 19:11-27.

Banner Photo: Moses and Korah, 1466 manuscript miniature, National Library of Poland. Photo via Wikipedia Commons under Creative Commons License.

Summary: Tammy. 

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