From: Ryan Ruffing
Division and factionalism have always been problems for the people of God. Whether parties in Corinth, divided by misunderstood allegiance to various teachers (1 Corinthians 1.10-17), or in the wilderness wanderings of Israel as recorded in today’s section of Numbers, we have always been tempted to allow pride to lead us into disunity.
Two of the heads of Israel’s ancestral houses rise up to oppose Moses’ God-given place of authority amidst the people. The motivation is unmistakeable - they are dissatisfied with their own places of God-given leadership. Moses recognizes this in his rebuke of Korah the Levite - “is it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself, to do service in the tabernacle of the LORD?” (vs. 9) Not only was Korah a Levite, he was in the line of Kohath - in Numbers 4 this part of the tribe of Levi was given the special responsibility of caring for the most holy things, including the Ark of the Testimony, which held the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written. Though God had granted his family this honorific place of service, Korah is not satisfied, he wants more, perhaps he even imagines himself in Moses’ seat, leading the people.
It doesn’t take much to recognize the pride present in Korah’s opposition to Moses - he is jealous of his position, and finds himself opposing not only Moses, but also God. Few of us are brave enough to act out in such open opposition, but I think most of us have experienced this kind of prideful jealousy - we fancy ourselves better than our friends or colleagues, and begin to oppose them in small or large ways.
It is not coincidental that immediately after recognizing the factions in the Corinthian church, Paul turns his discourse to the cross - “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1.18). It is precisely the word of the cross that has the power to break the prideful jealousy within us. If there is anyone who has the right to claim a higher place, it is Christ, and yet he took the lowest place. And shouldn’t we, who deserve the lowest place, seek to serve those around us, instead of undermining them. May we seek to be like Christ in our work places, at our schools, and in our homes.
I love playing music, fixing bikes and sewing. I live in JP with my dear wife, Libby.