Today as I was reading my One Year Bible, I was struck by the passage in Numbers. Moses and the Israelites are in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. Chapter 16 starts with this story –
One day Korah son of Izhar, a descendant of Kohath son of Levi, conspired with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth, from the tribe of Reuben. 2 They incited a rebellion against Moses, along with 250 other leaders of the community, all prominent members of the assembly. 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?”
4 When Moses heard what they were saying, he fell face down on the ground. 5 Then he said to Korah and his followers, “Tomorrow morning the Lord will show us who belongs to him and who is holy. The Lord will allow only those whom he selects to enter his own presence. 6 Korah, you and all your followers must prepare your incense burners. 7 Light fires in them tomorrow, and burn incense before the Lord. Then we will see whom the Lord chooses as his holy one. You Levites are the ones who have gone too far!”
Korah was a Levite. The Levites had been set apart by the Lord for special jobs within the Tabernacle. Korah should have known better than to start a rebellion against Moses.
Meanwhile, Korah had stirred up the entire community against Moses and Aaron, and they all gathered at the Tabernacle entrance. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to the whole community, 20 and the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 21 “Get away from all these people so that I may instantly destroy them!”
This rebellion angered God. Instead of doing the job they had been chosen to do – an honor actually – to lead the people in worship, they became jealous of Moses and wanted what wasn’t rightfully theirs.
22 But Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground. “O God,” they pleaded, “you are the God who gives breath to all creatures. Must you be angry with all the people when only one man sins?”
23 And the Lord said to Moses, 24 “Then tell all the people to get away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”
25 So Moses got up and rushed over to the tents of Dathan and Abiram, followed by the elders of Israel. 26 “Quick!” he told the people. “Get away from the tents of these wicked men, and don’t touch anything that belongs to them. If you do, you will be destroyed for their sins.” 27 So all the people stood back from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Then Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the entrances of their tents, together with their wives and children and little ones.
These men are the LEADERS in their homes! They have their wives and children standing with them!
28 And Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things that I have done—for I have not done them on my own. 29 If these men die a natural death, or if nothing unusual happens, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord does something entirely new and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them and all their belongings, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have shown contempt for the Lord.”
31 He had hardly finished speaking the words when the ground suddenly split open beneath them. 32 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed the men, along with their households and all their followers who were standing with them, and everything they owned. 33 So they went down alive into the grave, along with all their belongings. The earth closed over them, and they all vanished from among the people of Israel.
Oh how sad this passage made me! Because of the sin of the fathers, the wives and the children were also swallowed up and buried.
I believe that this happened literally, but I also believe we can take something away from this passage figuratively.
It is so important that parents lead their families well. If we are not careful sin can creep in and swallow our families whole.
How does this happen?
All we have to do is look at God’s commands. He tells us to have no other God’s before Him. Yet, we make the world and all it’s glitter a god. We are swallowed up by consumerism. If I can just get that new car, the latest phone, the most up-to-date gadget. Before you know it, we are swallowed up in debt, or pride, or jealousy of others.
We spend so much time chasing after things that we THINK will make us happy, only to be swallowed up by exhaustion, and irritability, and anxiety.
The saddest part – none of this only affects self. Our sin swallows up our children and spouse too.
The saying that more is “caught” than “taught” is a true one. What you demonstrate to your children through your actions is far more impact full, than what you say.
Be careful, my friends. Don’t allow yourselves to be swallowed up by the world. Instead, keep your eyes on eternity and those things that REALLY matter.