Moses lays it right back on them! They had been appointed apart from the rest of the congregation just as he had been. They despised and took lightly that appointment, desiring the higher job! They did not despise hierarchy—they despised not being HIGHER in that hierarchy! They wanted to call the shots their way.
The same is true today. Even in those groups condemning organized church government, someone emerges as spokesman, organizer, and/or leader. Those who disagree with this then split off again. The process tends to continue until little or nothing remains. Are these fruits godly?
For the Perfecting of the Saints
These people wanted more authority, more autonomy. They did not see that God had appointed the authority, and they were actually part of the authority. Some of these leaders came from the tribe of Levi, which was part of the constituted authority within Israel. God had separated them, yet they wanted more. Their desire, the way their pleasure would be gratified, was to be given more than they had already been given.
God has separated us from the congregation of Israel to serve Him. He has made us a part of a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to do the work of the church. By this, we become part of His body. So this is exceedingly important to us, as Paul explains in I Corinthians 12. We are a part of the Lord's body, a spiritual body, and who is the Head? Jesus Christ. If we attack or rebel against another part of His body, we are attacking Jesus Christ! That is the principle involved here. We may not like to see it that way, but it is the truth.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Submitting (Part 2)
Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and all the other two hundred and fifty men were not content with what God had given them to do in the church of the wilderness. They did not want to be porters and bearers. They did not want to be the setup crew or the take-down crew. Instead, they wanted to be the mediators between God and men. They wanted the cushy job—the one they saw that had the most going for it, the one that had the most authority. They were not content with where God had placed them in the body at the time.
Seeing this, Moses tells the rest of the Israelites, "Clear out! Get away from Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. If you don't want to be caught in what they've just done, stay away!"
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 16:9: