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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Selfish Ambition (Numbers 16)

Selfish ambition reveals its presence in the heart of man when a man craves what God has given to another. Unchecked, selfish ambition percolates into bitterness and envious thoughts mature into destructive actions.  

Korah, a distant cousin to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, envies Moses’ leadership position in Israel. He resents the elevation of his cousins over him, the Levites, and the entire congregation. Never mind that Korah and the Kohathites were graciously given the prestigious assignment of caring for the Most Holy Place and its furnishings. “Wounded” by the slight Korah focuses on the one thing he cannot havethe priesthood. He wants what God has given Moses and he campaigns to acquire it. Korah’s “woundedness” leads to open rebellion.   

This situation reveals a number of truths about selfish ambition:
  • Those who are selfishly ambitious embrace crass egalitarianism where everyone is equal in authority, position, and responsibility, “The whole community is holy, every one of them.” They believe in egalitarianism until they themselves are in a position of authority! They resent anyone who has authority over them (16:3).
  • Those who are selfishly ambitious distort truth and use religion to justify tearing down others, “. . . and the LORD is with them” (16:3).
  • Those who are selfishly ambitious interpret the motives of others through the filter of their own motives, “Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?” (16:3)
  • Those who are selfishly ambitious have no problem convincing others to join their ranks. 250 men join the rebellion against Moses’ God-given authority. (16:2)
  • Those who are selfishly ambitious blame others for their personal failures, “Moreover, you haven’t brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey or given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards” (16:14).
Moses responds by declaring that Korah’s battle isn’t with him but with the LORD, “It is against the LORD that you and all your followers have banded together.”  The LORD opens up the ground and swallows up Korah and his men, while the fire consumes the band of 250 who offer the incense. The following day the assembly grumbles against Moses and 14,700 of them died in a plaque. Wow! How many would die should God deal with the selfishly ambitious in the pews of our churches today?
“But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does dot descend from above but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there” (James 3:14-16).

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"They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron." (Numbers 16:3)

Korah, his two pals, and their 250 men think that they out-number Moses and Aaron. These well known community leaders have gotten a little too big for their britches.They've forgotten one person: God. So, they treated His servants with contempt but their contempt was really toward the Lord (see verse 30).

God can't be outnumbered. Makes me think of Psalm 118:6 "The Lord is on my side I shall not fear; for what can man do unto me?" When God has your back it doesn't really matter who is against you.

When you've been attacked the most natural reaction is to fight back, to go on the defensive. But not Moses. He falls "facedown" before the Lord, not once but twice.

So, how do you handle opposition? You tell Jesus on them. They, afterall, aren't your problem, but God's. Telling God on them brings God into the equation. When you bring God into the equation everything changes. One plus God is a majority. God, all by Himself, is the majority!

Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
Numbers 16:1-18:32
  • Why do Korah, Abiram, and On oppose Moses?
  • How does God validate His man, Moses?
  • What does Moses do each time he is opposed by men in the camp?
  • What is man's typical reaction to opposition?
  • What does Moses understand about God and upon what has he come to rely?
  • How does the Lord meet the physical needs of the Levites?
  • In return, what are the Levites commanded to do?
Turning truth into prayer:
Do you have opposition in your life? Tell Jesus on them. Bring Him into the equation.