“And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed.” – Numbers 16:47-48
“All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weigheth the spirits.” – Proverbs 16:2
“…Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are his: And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.” – Daniel 2:20b-21
Sometimes I think I should just have my mouth sewn shut. While it may not allow me to learn the much-needed lessons of patience, trust, and humility, at least it would keep me from repeatedly inserting my foot into said mouth.
Situations have been swirling around me lately. In my mind, they beg for a response. In my heart, I know that they’re not mine to handle. And yet, it’s so easy to get caught up in the drama and lose sight of the Divine. God is working in these situations, and although I think I know what needs to be accomplished, He knows what will accomplish His will. And He alone is sovereign.
In Numbers 16, drama was everywhere – the sort of manufactured drama that is the product of people demanding their own way. Moses and Aaron had thankless jobs to be sure, and they now faced opposition from an overly-ambitious Levite named Korah. A Kohathite, Korah belonged to the family of Levites that transported the Ark of the Covenant and managed the setup and takedown of the Tabernacle. They were privileged, but they were not priests, and for Korah, it wasn’t enough. In short, Korah wanted Aaron’s job, maybe even Moses job, and he had 250 princes of Israel behind him (Verses 1-3, Jude 1:4, 10-11).
Moses met Korah’s challenge with a challenge of his own. They would each offer incense to the Lord, and God would decide which was acceptable to Him (Verses 15-19). Of course, God’s mind had been made up long before Korah came on the scene. He had hand-picked Moses and Aaron, and Korah was in no position to second-guess the will of God.
Some tense moments follow, as Korah’s co-conspirators, Dathan and Abiram, defy Moses, and Moses and Aaron plead with God to spare as many people as possible, in spite of Korah’s blatant offense (Verses 12-14, 20-22).
At Moses’ word, everyone lights their incense. But no sooner does Moses finish speaking before the ground splits open, swallowing Korah, his cohorts, their families, and all of their stuff. The earth closes again, and any doubt about who God has chosen is erased (Verses 31-34). Fire and plague follow, and nearly 15,000 are dead by day’s end (Verses 42-50).
There’s a very telling epilogue to the story of Korah. Although God resoundingly defended the authority of Moses and Aaron in the wake of Korah’s rebellion, the unmistakable humanity of Moses and Aaron would be highlighted in the chapters to come. By Numbers 20 (Verses 1-12), both are denied entrance to the Promised Land after Moses strikes the rock, instead of following God’s clear instructions. In essence, the men who had pleaded with God to have patience with His people ultimately lost their own patience and misrepresented the Lord.
Did this vindicate Korah in his rebellion against Moses and Aaron? Absolutely not. And here’s why: the issue was never the worthiness of Moses and Aaron. They were just men – but regardless of their own choices, they were God’s choice, His chosen men (Daniel 2:20-21, II Chronicles 6:6, Psalm 89:2-4, Isaiah 41:8-9, John 15:16).
The issue was God’s sovereignty – His inalienable right as Creator, Lord, and King of Kings to set up whomever He chooses, however He chooses, and to deny us explanation when He so chooses (Psalm 115:3, Proverbs 16:9, I Chronicles 29:11-12, II Chronicles 20:6, Isaiah 46:9-10, Ephesians 1:1).
I’ll say it again. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in drama that it distracts us from the Divine. And we can be so determined to have our way that we refuse to let God have His way in us (Psalm 139:23-24). Sometimes we’re so intent on being right that we refuse to submit to God’s rule (Psalm 19:12-13).
Sometimes we need to get off our soapbox and get on our knees. Sometimes we need to stop trying to win and realize what we really stand to lose. And in the end, we need to let go, let God, and, let Him BE God (Psalm 46:10).
Are you struggling to accept God’s sovereignty in a specific situation? Do you find yourself refusing to surrender and fighting a battle that isn’t yours to fight? Acknowledge God as the Authority in that situation and ask Him to help you to trust His plan.