Today’s reading includes Numbers 16:41-18:32, Mark 16:1-20, Psalm 55:1-23, Proverbs 11:7.
We find Moses and Aaron in a difficult season in today’s passage. The people had grown weary of the wilderness. They longed for a return to Egypt and had false memories of its greatness, forgetting they were actually miserable slaves in that land. In fact, we see in Numbers 16 that they absurdly compare slavery in Egypt with the Promise land.
13 Isn’t it enough that you brought us out of Egypt, a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us here in this wilderness, and that you now treat us like your subjects? 14 What’s more, you haven’t brought us into another land flowing with milk and honey. You haven’t given us a new homeland with fields and vineyards.
With these false memories came a great discontentment and impatience which led to a great rebellion toward Moses and Aaron. This rebellion was led by a man named Korah. Korah was from the tribe of Levi, those who were set apart as the priests. He conspired with two others from the tribe of Reuben, the firstborn son of Jacob. These three then stirred up 250 others who were the prominent leaders of the people of Israel. These weren’t simply a fringe group who were making noise. These were the respected leaders of the Israelites. What’s more, they were united in their rebellion. They were working well together coming against God’s chosen leaders. And what was their mantra, their fight song? “We are special, too! Don’t think you are better than us!”
3 They united against Moses and Aaron and said, “You have gone too far! The whole community of Israel has been set apart by the Lord, and he is with all of us. What right do you have to act as though you are greater than the rest of the Lord’s people?”
Now this may have been a true statement—yes, God had declared them all a chosen people. But this truth was proclaimed out of context and with a spirit of pride and jealousy. They were throwing a temper tantrum. And is often the case, this pride and jealousy and rebellion was contagious. What’s more, we already learned an important truth about Moses. He was selected as the leader because of a very important characteristic. He was the humblest man on the face of the earth. He had eyes to see and ears to listen to God because pride was not clouding his judgement. And we continue to see this humility and dependence on God, even when he was being falsely accused and misunderstood.
4 When Moses heard what they were saying, he fell face down on the ground.
What did he do when faced with these challenges? He fell face down on the ground. He consulted the Lord as to how to handle this situation. He did not try to defend himself, nor make the rebellious ones understand. He did not bring up his stellar record, nor list the great sacrifices he had given on behalf of the people. He just let the Lord handle it for him. And when he got up off the ground, he had a clear vision of how the Lord wanted to handle it. He would not have been able to come up with such an effective plan. He just needed to seek the Lord, remain humble, and step aside while the Lord dealt with the nay-sayers.
We often find ourselves in uncomfortable predicaments in which others misunderstand us or spread false ideas about us. And what are we supposed to do in those situations? Fall on our knees before the Lord. Give it to Him. Remain humble. Let God handle the situation, handle to rebellion, handle the truth on our behalf. Moses spoke when God told him to speak and not a moment before. Moses spoke the words God told him to speak, and not a word more than that.
If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation of being falsely accused and misunderstood, here are some truths on which you can depend.
19 Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say,
“I will take revenge;
I will pay them back,”[a]
says the Lord.
6 So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[a] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”