Ancient Mistakes in Modern Times

Modern people can make ancient mistakes if we don’t learn from the past.  For example, Jude writes to Christians and warns that some people in his time had “perished in the rebellion of Korah” (Jud. 1:11).  That rebellion had occurred over 1,400 years before Jude was written.  These men he was speaking of were not alive during the days of Moses and Korah.  Instead, they had not learned an ancient lesson and had repeated an awful mistake.

If you don’t recall, the rebellion of Korah occurred during the wilderness wandering after the Exodus from Egypt.  Korah led a group of people to rebel against Moses claiming that he was not so special and everyone in Israel was holy (Num. 16:3).  In their mind, anyone could serve as a priest and approach God.  They were wrong.  The earth swallowed up Korah, his family, and his followers (Num. 16:31-33).  In addition, two hundred fifty men who were in front of the tabernacle offering up incense to prove that they would be acceptable to God were instead consumed by fire which had either rained down from heaven or come from the tabernacle itself (Num. 16:35).  This is one of those examples where it should be abundantly obvious that we don’t want to make their mistake.  You would agree with that, right?  Then consider some of their mistakes that could easily be repeated today.

What if you decide that a doctrine is likely valid because it is upheld by respected men?  That would be repeating the mistake of Korah.  After all, the Bible makes it clear that the men starting this rebellion were of great importance.  They were “leaders of the congregation, chosen in the assembly, men of renown” (Num. 16:2).  Turns out, very respected men can be very wrong.  Describing which Bible scholars agree with your doctrine means nothing in regards to whether you are right or not.

What if you put emphasis on the number of men who hold a particular doctrine?  That could be repeating the error of Korah, too.  After all, there weren’t just a few leading men to make this argument.  There were two hundred fifty men.  But the number doesn’t matter, does it?  If there were two hundred and fifty thousand men, would that make them any less wrong?  No.  In fact, the next day after the rebellion, “all the congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses” (Num. 16:41) that was likely more than two hundred fifty thousand people and they were all still wrong (Num. 16:42-46).

What if you don’t like what your leaders are doing, so you refuse to meet with them to resolve the issue?  This could apply to parents, elders or government officials.  This too, fits into the error of Korah.  Dathan and Abiram stubbornly refused to answer Moses’ summons.  The earth swallowed them up anyway (Num. 16:27-32).

Blaming leaders for our problems is nothing new.  The nation of Israel blamed Moses for the death of Korah’s people (Num. 16:13,41).  There are times when the leaders will be to blame, but not always.  Leaders are easy scapegoats, but sometimes they aren’t the problem.  Korah and the Israelites were to blame for their demise, not Moses.  Wrongly blaming the leadership for one’s own errors is also Korah’s rebellion.

Up to this point, we’ve only discussed side lessons regarding the rebellion of Korah, but the main rebellion was against God’s order.  They envied the position and honor that Moses had and they wanted that for themselves.  They ignored that God had called Moses and Aaron to their positions and instead felt that God would accept anyone.  This is what the rebellion of Korah was really about.  Many modern churches frequently ignore God’s rules concerning the role of women in the assembly (I Cor. 14:34-36; I Tim. 2:11-14).  Others set aside the qualifications for elders (I Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9) and want to appoint whomever they wish to the position.  Still others have decided that they don’t want elders in the churches at all (Titus 1:5; Acts 14:23).  Aren’t those all the same mistake as Korah?

There are many ancient mistakes made in modern times.  Don’t perish in the rebellion of Korah.