Numbers 16:1–3, Took men…rose up…gathered together against. The story of Korah and company is a classic example of a group of malcontents and rebels attempting to usurp divinely appointed and the arrogantly seizing authority and power for their own selfish purposes. To this day, the theme and variation of this scenario continues to play itself out as one band of humans vies for power at the expense of others be it in the political, economic or religious arenas. The originator of this modus operandi is Satan the devil himself, the arch enemy and adversary of both YHVH and man, and it goes all the way back to the beginning and the serpent in the tree. Korah and his comrades took their rules for radicals out of Satan’s playbook. Let’s now analyze Satan’s means of seizing power versus the righteous, biblical way that YHVH’s servanrts earn the privilege of being a godly leaders.
In Numbers 16:1–3, we see a progression (or downward spiral) of actions on the part of Korah and his rebels. First they separated themselves from fellowship, then they rose up against Moses, then they gathered together others of like mind,and finally they falsely accused leadership of wrong doings. This is the world’s formula for achieving political (humanistic) power and domination. It is the opposite method of advancing in YHVH’s kingdom where the way down is the way up; that is, when one humbly lays one’s life down in service, spiritual reward, advancement and blessing will occur for that person (Matt 20:27; 23:10). There is no greater example of this then Yeshua the Messiah, when he diminished himself and came to this earth to become a man and a servant. This is the supreme example for us all to emulate.
Therefore if there is any consolation in Messiah, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Let this mind be in you which was also in Messiah Yeshua, who, being in the form of Elohim, did not consider it robbery to be equal with Elohim, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore Elohim also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Yeshua every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Yeshua Messiah is Lord, to the glory of Elohim the Father. (Phil 2:1–11)
Unlike Yeshua, who was divinely appointed for his mission, rebels like Korah arrogantly appoint themselves to be leaders and then go about attempting to seize power through subversion and violence. First, they separate themselves from fellowship (or the group of which they are a part). Then they seek out other like-minded rebels, and then rise up in defiance and accusation against legal or godly leadership. If their coup is successful, this tactic will catapult these self-appointed perpetrators into positions of political (and economic) power.
On the other hand, the way of attaining to positions of spiritual power the godly way is laid out in Acts 2:42–47, where the followers of Yeshua continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, in fellowship, breaking bread together, in prayer and served one another by sharing their time, talent and treasure. Out of this righteous atmosphere, godly and Spirit-appointed leaders naturally rose to the surface like cream rising to the top of milk. The result was real spiritual power, authority and anointing from heaven. This was not power based on usurpation, human pride, degradation of others and a hubris-based, shameless self-promotion. No. The attainment of righteous authority can only occur as people forsake not the assembling of themselves together (Heb 10:25), function according to their divine gifts and spiritual callings within the spiritual body of Yeshua, while submitted one to another as they walk in the spiritual light YHVH’s instructions in righteousness, that is, the Torah.
Yeshua confirmed the biblical way to servant-leadership, when he taught that true power in the kingdom of Elohim is a result of one laying one’s life down for one’s brother, while serving him in love and humility. Such a person will be elevated to a position of influence and authority because he has learned to serve others in love, altruism and selflessness rather than seeking to be served, which stems from a heart of selfishness, pride and, often, covetousness and greed (Matt 20:25–28; 23:11–12).
The Jewish sages note that Korah and his band of malcontents had come under the power of resentment, which grew and festered until open rebellion broke out. Korah was a fellow Levite and cousin of Aaron, who was among those “overlooked” for the priesthood, and who were relegated to being “mere” assistants to the priests. He was also a firstborn of his household (Exod 6:21), and when the tabernacle sacrificial service was inaugurated Aaron’s sons replaced the firstborn Israelites in offering sacrifices. Furthermore, Dathan, Abiram and On were of the tribe of Reuben, the first-born child of Jacob. These men had their own grudge, since Reuben had lost his birthright as the firstborn son to the sons of Joseph because of sin (note 1 Chron 5:1).
What do we see here? Resentment (a function of pride and selfishness) leads to bitterness, which then leads to separation, then to uprising, then to accusation, then to rebellion against YHVH-ordained authority, then to attempted usurpation of authority. Eventually it leads to judgment and death. Is this not the path Lucifer took in his rebellion against YHVH Elohim—a method that he and his human minions (or useful idiots) continue to this day? (Read Isa 14:12–23.) As with Korah and company, the trajectory of this downward path leads to death. For some, the earth will open its mouth and they will be cast into the bottomless pit. For the rest of the unrighteous, unrepentant malcontents and rebels, their fate is to be cast into the lake of fire, where they will become ashes under the feet of the righteous.