Weekly Torah Portion (11-12 June 2021)

Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32) … High Cost of Rebellion

FYI — The picture in this blog is truly a family picture of your’s truly. I was about six years old at the time and it was the 1970s. And every one of us hated this picture!

As a former pastor’s child (until my dad’s death in July 2000), this week’s Torah Portion conveyed a certain amount of “delicious” irony for me, especially chapter 16. Chapter 16 opens with three members of the tribe of Levi (Korah, Dathan, and Abiram) confronting Moses regarding his leadership abilities and the direction he is taking the Hebrew people. Moses reacts (v. 4-7), not by forming a sub-committee or by having a congregational meeting/vote on the charges made against him, but by calling on God to decide who is correct and who is in the wrong. Moses asks God to show through the burning of incense who should be the leader of the people.

Korah brings all the people (v. 19) to the tabernacle the next day in anticipation of a “vote to get rid of the ‘preacher’” and ends up being cast into Sheol, along with all his family and the families of Dathan and Abiram (v. 20-35). This is a story of individuals struggling for power and for control but discover that the only person truly in control is God Almighty.

I think the lesson from this portion is fairly obvious – God picks his people for His intentions for their lives. The Israelites assumed and presumed but ultimately God had selected Moses to lead His people and that decision should have been respected. Korah was obviously a voice in his community and could draw the attention of the people; however, Korah was not God’s choice for prophet and leader of the Jewish people.

Too often today we are guilty of the sins of assumption and presumption. This is sometimes evident in the choices churches make for pastors and leaders. We choose by appearance or style (much as Samuel tried to do when he would have picked anyone but David to be the future king) and forget the heart. The best looking, smartest and most capable are not always the ones God chooses for the spiritual mission; but He does know who is best and His lead is the one to follow. Incidentally, my wonderful dad was not tall and did not have a deep, resonant voice, but he was a wonderful pastor. In fact, and at his funeral, several of his former churches either attended or sent messages to my mama to let her know that they discovered what a wonderful pastor Jack Downey was after he left because they never were able to have someone of his high pastoral quality again.

Anyway, and back to the Torah portion, the Israelites discovered the high cost of rebellion – 14,700 lives (v. 49) – but there is no reason we cannot learn from their experience. Follow God, follow God’s leaders (but make sure they are His), and go in His direction and not your own. Shalom and blessings!

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