And they said to each other, “We should chose a leader and go back to Egypt. . . .the whole assembly talked about stoning [Moses and Aaron]. . . . Korah . . . Dathan and Abiram . . . became insolent and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who were members of the council. 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 them so you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?” (Numbers14:4,10; 16:1-3)
It was an horrific chapter in the history of God’s people.
God had brought the Israelites to the edge of the land He had promised. But instead of following God, many of the people put their faith in the bad reports that swept through the camp; reports that the land couldn’t be taken because of the giants who lived there. People chose to follow small minds with big fears instead of the leaders God had chosen. They wanted leaders who agreed with them, not leaders who agreed with God.
The situation got so volatile that Korah, Dathan and Abiram were able to recruit 250 government leaders to join in their rebellion. They objected to any suggestion of the community prepared to stone Moses and Aaron had done anything wrong. Incredibly, even after God’s judgment fell on these rebel leaders in swift and miraculous fashion in the sight of the whole community, the very next day, “the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. ‘You have killed the Lord’s people,’ they said.”
God was so angry at their willful blindness that He sent a plague to destroy them all, had not Moses and Aaron made atonement for them. As it was, almost 15,000 died in addition to those who perished because of Korah.
It’s a sobering reminder of the danger of taking things into our own hands when we decide we don’t like the leadership that God has instituted, and don’t want to follow it. It demonstrates what can happen when we see truth as whatever we prefer to believe.
Deception is always harmful, but self-deception is the most destructive of all. It leads us to make God over in our own image, to impute our desires as being His. It refuses the need for correction, excuses our failings as justified, and defuses the light of the Holy Spirit in our dark places. Self-deception sees what we want to see instead of what we need to see. It twists truth and realigns reality to fit our needs and perceptions. It can lead to pride in our imagined spiritual superiority, and rebellion against God’s commands under the guise of war on His behalf.
Self-deception, pride and rebellion — these are the spiritual plagues that spread quickly when human beings put themselves in God’s place. Clear evidence is denied; eyewitnesses become blind; wisdom is wiped out. Rebelling against reality is an illness resulting in spiritual destruction — the worst plague of all.
Father, open my eyes today to Your truth, Your leading, and Your wisdom. Protect me I pray from the infiltration efforts of Satan, the father of all lies. May I never forget that he masquerades as an angel of light. Strip away whatever is false in me; help me face what I need to see, and change what I need to change in myself. May I keep my eyes on You, my heart with You, my life in You. I ask it in the precious and powerful name of Jesus Christ. Amen.