and I will be his God and he shall be My son

1 Corinthians 10 (Part 11) COMPLAINING (The Rebellion of Korah)

1 Corinthians Chapter 10
Our Journey

(part 11)


 (The rebellion of Korah)


“nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” – 1Cor 10:10-11 NKJV

As we’ve been going through this study, I pray we’ve been looking at our personal walk with the Lord. For as Paul stresses, the wilderness experiences of Israel are examples for us. May we be ever growing in discernment between “good and evil”, and in understanding of what God has called us to, and His requirements upon those who will “inherit the land.”

The Israelites continually tested God, questioning His method and purpose. Do we ever find ourselves doing that?

Yes, we may “inquire of the Lord”, and the Bible says we can “test the spirits” to discern “whether they are of God”, but once we receive an answer, may we accept it, trusting that God knows what He is doing and ultimately has in mind what is best for us. How often do we keep “asking” even after we know what God has said because we don’t really like His answer?

Having made “being saved” the end rather than the beginning of our faith and the very first step of our journey toward the promises of God, I believe when the necessary trials and discipline come, we too can begin to test God by questioning His method and purpose. There are spirits behind much of our current doctrine delivering false “truth” which stresses “grace” and “forgiveness” apart from the repentance and moral change which the saints have been called to in preparation for that “eternal Priesthood” (that we’ve looked at previously - And many denominations have unknowingly embraced these lies, often expressing them in their “statements of faith”; and many congregants have innocently, yet blindly, received them.

Jude speaks of this in his letter “to those who are the called, loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ” -

“Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”

– Jude 1:3-5 NKJV

The Lord’s brother here in his epistle desired to write about the “common salvation” that has come to all, because of the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus and His Resurrection. As we’ve been studying, this salvation is akin to Israel being “saved” from bondage in Egypt. We - in fact “all” men & women, in that sense - have been “saved” from bondage to sin. The Apostle Paul teaches us that “One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” (2Cor 5:14b-15 NKJV)

And again in his letter to Titus -

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ’” – Titus 2:11-13 NKJV

The experience we have come to call “being saved” is actually us choosing to enter into what has already been done. Declaring that Christ Jesus has brought salvation to mankind, and being “baptized into His death” (have we been?), we now begin the Journey in the “wilderness” of God’s choosing to test us and see if we will remain “faithful”, and “endure til the end” that we might not only be saved, but actually be “clothed with salvation” which those who overcome will minister to the nations in Eternity. These will be “like Him” when He appears; and as we read, these who “have this hope purify themselves.” (1John 3:1-3)

This Truth is not understood, or even inquired into, by the masses in the Christian Religion. Those who speak such things are often labeled as fanatics, lunatics or heretics, and they are spoken “evil” of by those church “leaders” who are yet comfortable with their carnal nature; as Jude continues in his admonition -

“These speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.”
- Jude 1:10-11 NKJV

And tragically, this “ear-tickling” doctrine has given many a false confidence that their eternity is secure because of what Christ Jesus did alone. Refusing to believe that they “have not yet attained” (as well as a great misunderstanding of what it means to be “born again”) these begin to take the “grace of God” for granted. Falsely believing that Christ’s blood on the Cross automatically forgives their continued sins, they fail to “strive against sin to the shedding of their own blood”; and “press in”, “labor to enter His rest” and “lay hold of what Christ Jesus laid hold of them for.” (Heb 12:4, Phil 3:12-14, Heb 4:11)

How is it, friends, that the church cannot receive what the Word declares, concerning our part to play in our “eternal salvation”? Israel, in the Exodus, readily accepted the promises of God to bring them to a “land flowing with milk and honey”, and the salvation from bondage He freely provided for them. Yet, when the conditions of repentance and obedience came, they balked. Even when they would confess with their lips, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” (Ex 24:7), they “would not walk in His ways, Nor were they obedient to His law.” (Isaiah 42:24)

Did God’s promise to those whom He had “saved” carry them through to the Promised Land because He loved them, and they had confessed His Name? No. rather, as we read above, “the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” (Jude 1:5)

Please hear this… the “belief” God requires is far more than merely believing Jesus was born, died and rose again. If we don’t really “believe” all that Jesus taught can we truly claim to be a “believer”? Do we dare “complain” when the Lord chastens us in His love, because He doesn’t want to see us “destroyed” with the “ungodly” when God’s “wrath comes upon the sons of disobedience.”

Having made death our ultimate redeemer and the end of our faith – we really have; just attend any funeral or memorial service – we don’t know what to do with the multitudes of exhortations in the NT alone that admonish the saints to repent, persevere, and walk worthy that they may actually receive the promises of God. We err greatly in conferring the eternal promises of God upon the casual church goer, especially in light of the Apostle Paul’s own confession in Philippians 3:12-14 and 1Corinthians 9:24-27.

“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.”
- Heb 12:1-8 NKJV

As well, not realizing that the chastening is from God, not the devil; and is meant to prove us, they complain, and murmur against God for the trials they are going through. Can we receive the Lord’s rebuke and chastening meant to correct us and steer us onto the path that leads to Life?
And what if we don’t? What if we don’t receive this “chastening”? Will “God’s love” excuse us and grant us the rewards anyway?

Modern popular doctrines such as Eternal Security and ‘God sees me through Christ’, have done much damage to the church, leaving many believing it unnecessary to actually strive against sin even to the shedding of their own blood (True Repentance), or “obey the commands of God” that they might receive “eternal salvation.” (Heb 12:4, Heb 5:8)

Looking now at the incident of complaining which brought God’s wrath in the Wilderness -

“Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men; and they rose up before Moses with some of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown. They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” - Num 16:1-3 NKJV

Envy was rising up against Moses and Aaron, whom the Lord had called and given leadership over Israel. Envy lies at the root of many situations where complaining arises, as an unfulfilled desire for recognition or preeminence can bring dissatisfaction and hatred toward those who appear to have it. In the New Testament, we who have been saved and called to follow Christ in whatever capacity He has ordained are clearly admonished -

“Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Gal 5:26 KJV). And the Spirit through Paul just a few verses earlier warns us that those in whom “envy” is present, active and undealt with, “will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:21) And Peter tells us to “rid ourselves” of such carnal, immature conduct and attitudes. (1Pet 2:1-2)

Jude forewarns us that there will be among God’s people those who “are grumblers, fault finders, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.” (Jude 1:16), just as Korah, Dathan and Abiram were back then.

This characteristic of the carnal nature “is rottenness to the bones” (Prov 14:30), and can lead to bitterness, strife, division and narcissism.
May we never believe that we are immune to this condition of the unregenerate heart, for even among the disciples of Jesus we find James & John at one point desiring the preeminence (Mark 10:37), which upset the others (Mark 10:41).

So, Jesus taught that those who would be great must first become a humble servant. Yet even then - as was the calling of Moses and Aaron - it is God the Father alone who calls whom He will into places of leadership.

“To sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” – Mark 10:40 NKJV

God viewed this rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram as a complaint against Him personally for the way He was doing things. He had previously warned Israel, when they complained about the way He was providing their sustenance, and when they didn’t like the way He was fulfilling His promise to bring them into the land of Canaan.

“The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 27 “How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me. 28 Say to them, ‘As I live,’ says the Lord, ‘just as you have spoken in My hearing, so I will surely do to you; 29 your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me.”
– Num 14:26-29 NKJV

But yet these men again complained, and rose up against Moses and Aaron. Perhaps believing that it was Moses’ & Aaron’s fault for God’s judgment, and that they had not entered into the Promised Land yet. How often have we blamed someone else for the circumstances we are in? Are humble enough to heed the words of an elder brother or sister, whose life has shown they are walking with the Lord, when we find ourselves in an uncomfortable setting, perhaps seemingly stuck in our own “wilderness?”

So when Moses heard it, 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 cause him to come near to Him. That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him. Do this: Take censers, Korah and all your company; put fire in them and put incense in them before the Lord tomorrow, and it shall be that the man whom the Lord chooses is the holy one. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!”

Then Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi: Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; 10 and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also? 11 Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the Lord. And what is Aaron that you complain against him?”

 – Num 16:4-11 NKJV

Even with all that God had blessed them with, still they were not content, and hungered not after righteousness; but with covetousness they envied God’s calling on others. Their desire was not to grasp the deeper things of God’s Kingdom, but to boast in their own greatness, and exercise authority over others. As Jesus said - “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them.” (Mark 10:42 NLT)

These men despised the ascendancy of Moses and responded rebelliously rather than in submission to the one God had ordained.

12 And Moses sent to call Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, but they said, “We will not come up! 13 Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us? 14 Moreover you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor given us inheritance of fields and vineyards. Will you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!” – Num 16:12-14 NKJV

Now their complaining had turned to defiance, as they refused to obey Moses, the man God had indeed set over them.
The subsequent result of the rebellion is hard, even to read. But I believe it shows the righteous anger of Moses, and even more importantly, the depth of his relationship to the Lord God.

“Then Moses was very angry, and said to the Lord, “Do not respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them.”
16 And Moses said to Korah, “Tomorrow, you and all your company be present before the Lord—you and they, as well as Aaron. 17 Let each take his censer and put incense in it, and each of you bring his censer before the Lord, two hundred and fifty censers; both you and Aaron, each with his censer.” 18 So every man took his censer, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and stood at the door of the tabernacle of meeting with Moses and Aaron. 19 And Korah gathered all the congregation against them at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the glory of the Lord appeared to all the congregation.”
– Num 16:15-19 NKJV

Just as the Lord appeared on the scene with Job and his three friends (Job 38:1), He now makes an appearance in some visible form to let His will be known.

“And the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 21 “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.”

22 Then they fell on their faces, and said, “O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and You be angry with all the congregation?”

23 So the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.’”

25 Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram, and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 And he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men! Touch nothing of theirs, lest you be consumed in all their sins.” 27 So they got away from around the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, with their wives, their sons, and their little children." - Num 16:20-27 NKJV

So often the choices we make in life affect not only ourselves, but our families and others around us as well. The consequences for their rebellion may seem unfair to our carnal understanding, but this was God’s judgment -

28 And Moses said: “By this you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will. 29 If these men die naturally like all men, or if they are visited by the common fate of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected the Lord.”

31 Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. 33 So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly. 34 Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up also!”

35 And a fire came out from the Lord and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering incense.” - Num 16:28-35 NKJV

Our modern picture of God, as a benevolent bearded old man, not unlike the fictional Claus, has caused many to lack that necessary “fear of the Lord.”
Lord, help us to embrace only the Truth of who You are, and Your charge to those You have ordained to “come after” Jesus.

God did not take kindly to these who gathered together against His anointed and questioned His choice and methods. He had saved them, brought them through baptism and provided all they needed, yet they were not satisfied.

“Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord,
“Who take counsel, but not of Me,
And who devise plans, but not of My Spirit,
That they may add sin to sin.”

- Isaiah 30:1 NKJV

Then, incredibly, yet analogous to those in Revelation who refused to repent when the judgment of God fell upon them, the stubbornness of God’s people won out over common sense yet again. Foolish pride arose in their hearts rather than humility and submission to the Lord and His chosen, and although they had witnessed God’s stern judgment, they immediately complained once again and pointed fingers at the vessels God used rather than look inward at themselves.

“On the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the Lord.” 42 Now it happened, when the congregation had gathered against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tabernacle of meeting; and suddenly the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord appeared. 43 Then Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of meeting.

44 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 45 “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.”
And they fell on their faces.


46 So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a censer and put fire in it from the altar, put incense on it, and take it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from the Lord. The plague has begun.” 47 Then Aaron took it as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the assembly; and already the plague had begun among the people. So he put in the incense and made atonement for the people. 48 And he stood between the dead and the living; so the plague was stopped. 49 Now those who died in the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those who died in the Korah incident. 50 So Aaron returned to Moses at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, for the plague had stopped.”
- Num 16:41-50 NKJV

There are many today who would proclaim that this was “Old Testament”, before Jesus came and brought salvation to all who would call upon His Name. Yet, Paul writes to us “Christians”, warning us not to behave as did these “rebellious sons”, lest we be judged in like manner unless we truly “present our bodies a living sacrifice” ; “put to death the deeds of the flesh”, and “walk worthy of our calling.”

“All these things happened to them as examples—as object lessons to us—to warn us against doing the same things; they were written down so that we could read about them and learn from them in these last days as the world nears its end.” – 1Cor 10:11 TLB

Indeed, the Spirit is instructing today, “guiding into all Truth” those with “humble and contrite hearts”, and “ears to hear what the Spirit is speaking to the churches.”
Are we among these?

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