A Deadly Trap

Sometimes when you read the Old Testament, the thing you learn is something you already knew. Of course, that’s because people haven’t changed much since then — and temptation — well that’s about as unchanging as death and taxes. So, today, I want to talk about something that is covered in several chapters of Numbers, beginning in Chapter 16:1, when Korah conspired with other levites against Moses.

What was their complaint? That Moses seemed to think he was of more value than the rest of the Levites. The root of their complaint was jealousy. The Korites and other members of the Levite tribe resented Moses and Aaron’s positions of authority over them. They didn’t like carrying the poles and tools and curtains of the Tabernacle. They wanted to minister to the Lord, to offer sacrifices, to work inside the secret place.

So how did Moses answer the charge?

“Now listen you levites! Does it seem a small thing to you that the God of Irael has chosen you from among all the people of Israel to be near him as you serve in the Lord’s Tabernacle and to stand before the people to minister to them?”

What was he saying? “Isn’t your job good enough? Why do you despise the position God has given you?”

The Levites in charge of the Tabernacle weren’t satisfied. Instead of doing their own job well, they began to look longingly over at Moses and Aaron. They wished for the power, for the prestige, for their nearness to what God was doing. Think about it! When God spoke, he spoke with Moses. Under those conditions, it would be easy to begin to believe that you play second string.

Moses and Aaron always knew what was happening next. The Levites were nothing more (in their own eyes) than the moving team. They jumped when Moses told them to. In the next couple of chapters, Korah’s rebellion is squashed, and the people of Israel begin to grumble against Moses… And eventually, God has to put the entire episode to rest — which he does in chapter 17. God tells Moses to have each of the tribes inscribe a tribal leader’s name on a staff, and then God says, “Put these staffs in the Tabernacle in front of the Ark of the Covenant, where I meet with you. Buds will sprout on the staff belonging to the man I choose. then I will finally put an end to the murmuring and complaining against you.”

Whose staff budded? The one with Mose’s name inscribed on it.

Okay, so God didn’t want the Levites to envy Moses and complain against his leadership. He wanted them to be satisfied with their appointed position.

So, how does that apply to me?

That’s easy. I’m not impervious to envy. for instance, in the world of writing and publishing, it’s easy to look at other, more successful authors — people who sell lots of books, or who have huge platforms and wonder, “why can’t you spread a little of that my way Lord?” When I go to conventions, and the limos show up at the airport for the OTHER authors, it’s easy to feel a little left out, to wonder if my little contribution to publishing is worth anything.

It’s easy to forget that God chooses his servants, and, he chooses the good works his servants are to accomplish.

I’m not too different from Korah and his buddies. And I think God is asking me, “Do you dispise the work I’ve given YOU to do? Can you keep your head down, stop worrying about my other servants? Can you do what I gave you to do? Can you do it well, no matter who notices? With no accolades?

I don’t want to let envy lead me to rebellion. How about you?

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