Korah's Dispute

“Woe unto them! for they have . . . perished in the gainsaying of Core.” (Jude 1:11)

Jude describes the Levite Korah’s rebellion against Moses (Numbers 16) as an antilogia (to speak against, dispute, contradict). During that time, Moses and Aaron were the spokespersons for the Lord, with authority and direct instructions from God. The Scriptures take that place today.

Korah and 250 other “princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown” (Numbers 16:2) had decided that they were just as “holy” as Moses and were demanding some share of the leadership (and presumably some of the control). This was far more than a mere leadership struggle.

Israel had just come through several major miracles (Red Sea parting, manna, water from the rock, etc.), had been given the Ten Commandments, and had built the tabernacle. They had rejected the report of Joshua and Caleb on God’s promise about Canaan and were in the middle of trying to choose a captain to “return into Egypt” (Numbers 14:4). God was really angry with them!

Korah led this “gainsaying” in an attempt to thwart God’s direction through Moses. Today, that would be equivalent to insisting that science (or philosophy or theology) is just as holy as the text of Scripture. God’s method of testing this antilogia was simple: Each leader was to prepare his own censer and incense (equivalent to his interpretation of God’s Word) and see how God responded to him.

They perished in a most spectacular display of ruin—“the ground clave asunder that was under them” and they “went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation” (Numbers 16:31, 33). God does not tolerate rejection of His message, “for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psalm 138:2). HMM III

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