They are accusing Moses of appointing himself. "You take too much upon yourself. We're just as good as you." Yet, that is not the issue. The issue is respect for God through the office He had appointed the man to.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 2): God's Pattern of Leadership
Moses must have had a premonition of what was coming, so he called upon God to make a visible choice between him and these men who were the representatives of the complainers.
We have to see God as the Head of His creation—He rules over and governs everything. What is He looking for on earth? He is looking for people who will submit to that rule—once they recognize where the real power and authority in the creation resides. He is looking for people who will submit to it voluntarily, of their own free will—people who will consciously choose to submit to the rule, the way, of God.
These men were not like this. All they saw was Moses, and that he seemed to have a lot of authority.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Submitting (Part 2)
To paraphrase, they said, "Look! Who are you, Moses? You've taken this authority to yourself, but it should be shared among all the people, because we have all been called out. We are all holy before God. Why then do you exalt yourself above the congregation of the LORD?"
Notice what they say. It is quite ironic. They say, "You are taking too much authority to yourself. Everybody should have this authority." And then they accuse Moses of exalting himself: "You put yourself in this position." But were they not attempting to do the very same thing? These words would come back to haunt them very shortly.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
This is an example of a person who is dissatisfied with what he has and stirs up others because of his ingratitude for what God had given him already.
The consequences of Korah's "taking action" are clear: God destroyed all these who rose up against Moses and Aaron—against Him. Does this pattern look familiar? It should. It is the age-old and oft-repeated sin of pride manifesting itself in ingratitude. Satan did the same thing (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:14-17). It was not enough for him to be a covering cherub at God's throne. It was not enough to have the lordship over the earth and one-third of the angels (Revelation 12:3). No, he wanted to resemble or compare to the Most High (Isaiah 14:14)! His pride led him to go to war against God, a battle he soundly lost (Luke 10:18). Revelation 12:7-10 prophesies that his pride will drive him to attempt another coup d'état before Christ's return.
This is where ingratitude can ultimately lead a person: into total rebellion against God. It lends to an individual feeling a false sense of worth, that he deserves more. If not checked, it becomes a plague of discontent that soon infects others, as Satan's ingratitude spread to other angels.
If this kind of attitude lands us in trouble, just what should our attitude be? A truly humble and grateful person will never rebel against God because he knows that even the very breath he breathes is a gift and calls for praiseful thanksgiving to the Father. Sharing this thanksgiving with others in the church works like soothing oil that helps to heal the body.
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Numbers 16:3: