Korah’s Rebellion — Its Real Lesson for Today Study No. 203



f you have been around the Church of God for a while, you have certainly heard of Korah.  Numerous sermons have been given, citing Korah’s Rebellion against Moses as an example for us today.  The brethren, some claim, take too much upon themselves, and wrongly strive to usurp the authority God gives to His ministers.  Is this the lesson of Korah’s Rebellion for us today?  Let us look at what the Bible says.  The answer will be surprising to many!


At the outset, we should remember that the Bible does warn about the dangers of false brethren, II Corinthians 11:26; Galatians 2:4.  However, the vast majority of scriptures dealing with false teachers describe leaders who stray from the Almighty’s Truth, and infect others in their rebellion against Him.  See our Bible Study #158, “False Ministers, False Brethren.”

Korah, along with the Reubenites Dathan, Abiram and On, along with 250 “princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown,” gathered themselves to­gether against Moses and Aaron, and said, “Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?” Numbers 16:1-3.  Here was a serious threat to the leadership of Moses over Israel.  Korah wanted to push aside Moses, and take control of the congregation (church) of Israel.

Now, who was Korah?  He was a cousin of Moses!  They both descended from Ko­hath, one of the sons of Levi, Exodus 6:16-24.  The Kohathites had a special responsi­bility in the sacrificial system:  “Their charge shall be the ark, and the table [of shewbread], and the candlestick, and the altars, and the vessels of the sanctuary where­with they minister, and the hanging [curtain], and all the service thereof,” Numbers 3:27-32.  The other two sons of Levi, Gershon and Merari, had lesser responsibilities, Numbers 3:14-37.  Korah had a leading responsibility in the tabernacle service!

Korah’s two chief henchmen were Reu­ben­ites, Dathan and Abiram.  Were they or­din­ary laypersons in the congregation of Israel?  No!  They were both “famous in the congregation,” Numbers 26:9.  They, along with the 250 princes who joined the rebellion, were “renowned in the congregation,” Numbers 1:16.

So, we see that the Truth is exactly the opposite of what is commonly taught by the leadership of many Churches of God.  It is not the ordinary rank and file membership that is the problem in Korah-type rebellions.  The problem is the struggle for power among the leadership.  Korah and his followers were already great renowned leaders in the con­grega­tion of Israel.  That wasn’t enough for them; they wanted more power, Numbers 16:9.  An earthquake swallowed up Korah and his following, and a fire from God devoured those who were offering censers to the Eternal, Numbers 16:16-35.

This problem of a struggle for power has long been a sign among the Church of God.  Numbers 26:10 says “And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up together with Korah, when that company died, what time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men: and they became a SIGN.”  The censers of these sinners were taken up afterwards and made into broad plates for a covering of the altar, as a perpetual sign unto the children of Israel, Numbers 16:38, 17:10.  Surely, the gainsay­ing of Core (Korah) is a sign unto God’s people throughout all ages, Jude 11.

Today, the real lesson of Korah appears to be lost on many in the Church of God.  The main problem in the Church is its leadership.  Corrupt leadership blames the brethren for being rebellious like Korah, not realizing that the finger points back to them!  Korah’s rebellion is very similar to that of Lucifer.  Not content to serve God in the way God ordained him, Lucifer wanted to ascend above the heavens, and take over the throne of God.

Korah’s Rebellion against Moses is a sign, a lesson, for us today.  Serve the Eternal with all your heart and mind, being content with the gifts (opportunities) that God has given you to serve His people.  Shun those men of renown who struggle for political power, get away from their tents, Numbers 16:26, because God’s judgment is coming on them.  That is the real lesson of Korah for today.

— written by Richard C. Nickels W