It’s not every day the earth swallows up rebellious people. At least, I don’t think it happens every day…
God clearly wanted to make a statement when He chose to punish Korah, Abiram, & Dathan in this way. These 3 men, their families, and their followers reaped an unusual, but deserved, judgment for their insolence against Moses and God.
While Korah had a faithful following of 250 men, all 3 of these men held leadership roles in the Hebrew community. Yet, Korah, a Levite, and the 2 brothers, Abiram & Dathan (from the tribe of Reuben), were jealous of Moses’ unique leadership and the special relationship he had with God. They also envied Aaron’s position as priest to the people. This led these 3 to incite the people to rebel against Moses and to grumble against Aaron. Their charge? “All in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. So, why do you exalt yourself above the assembly of the Lord?” (Num. 16:3) They failed to find contentment in what God had already given them, complaining instead that they wanted more… or, at least, something else.
Though Moses & Aaron interceded for these rebellious people (Num. 16:22), God caused the earth to open up beneath the 3 men, their families, and some of their followers. The remaining followers of Korah were destroyed by fire from Heaven (Num. 16:35).
Even after witnessing this supernatural execution, the people were slow to refocus their devotion to God and His appointed leaders – Moses & Aaron. Less than 24hrs later, the people of Israel rallied against Moses & Aaron… and blamed them for the dramatic death of their friends. When Moses & Aaron intervened on behalf of the people – again!, God stopped the plague. But, not until it had already killed almost 15,000 people!
Things could have – and should have – turned out differently for these 3. Imagine if they had spent their time, energy, and emotion thanking God for delivering them and their families from slavery in Egypt. Imagine if they had expressed appreciation to God for the privilege and opportunity to work in the roles God had given them. Imagine if they had prayed daily for Moses & Aaron, the leaders God had appointed over them… instead of grumbling against them.
How can you and I guard against grumbling? Focus on appreciation! Thank God – often – for the many blessings God has given you. Focus on what God has called you to do. Serve God… faithfully. Leave issues like prestige, prominence, and position in God’s hands.
If you’re trying to grab the spotlight… or your envious of – or angry at – someone who is already in the limelight, watch out!
You can read Abiram’s, Korah’s, & Dathan’s story in Number 16. They are also referenced in Numbers 26 & Jude 11.