ONE BAD DECISION: AN EARTH-SHATTERING DECISION

In the course of a twenty-four hour period we make gobs of decisions. Some of these we make with a serious amount of forethought and prayer. But, if you’re like me, we make many of our decisions spontaneously with little, or no, thought as to the consequences or impact our decisions will have—not only for ourselves, but also for the many others whose lives are intertwined with  ours.

Have you ever thought much about how a single decision can change your life forever? Sometimes a single decision will change us for the better. And sometimes a single decision will change us for the worse.

In these blog posts I’d like to look at the singular decision that some people in the Bible made that changed their lives forever…for the worse. By looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word it’ll give us reason to stop and think about both the long-term and short-term ramifications of the decisions we make. Lots of forethought and prayer, I’m convinced, will save us from the pain and regret of a hastily-made decision for the worse.

AN EARTH-SHATTERING DECISION

Moses had it hard. The desert heat, travels, and deprivations were bad enough. But to make matters intolerably worse, he was constantly having to deal with people who didn’t like his decisions; people who questioned his leadership and his wisdom.

Korah was one such person. He was a rather influential Levite. A big shot as far as Levites went. Anyways, he was disenchanted with Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership. He felt like he needed to be a part of the upper echelon leadership team.  He wanted to be a priest which, by lineage, was not his right or prerogative to pursue. He wanted the laws of priesthood to be changed so that he could become a priest. And if changing the laws meant getting rid of Moses and Aaron, then, by God, that’s what Korah set out to do. So, he gathered 250 of the nation’s most powerful princes and they had themselves a very public showdown with Moses and Aaron.

Numbers 16:1-3 tells the story.  Now Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and On, took men:  (2)  And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown:  (3)  And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?

As you can imagine, Moses was rather disheartened by this rumbling of revolt. The rights of the priesthood and leadership were not his to make, but God’s. So here’s what God told Moses to tell Korah and his insurrectionists. “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him, who is holy, and who it is that he will allow to come near him. Only the person the Lord chooses will be allowed to come near him.  (6)  Korah, you and all your followers must do this tomorrow: Take incense burners,  (7)  and put burning coals and incense in them in the Lord’s presence. Then the Lord will choose the man who is holy. You’ve gone far enough!”  (8)  Moses also said to Korah, “Listen, you Levites!  (9)  Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the community of Israel? The Lord has brought you near himself to do the work for his tent and stand in front of the community to serve them.  (10)  He has brought you and all the other Levites near himself, but now you demand to be priests (Numbers 16:5-10).

The burning of incense was the priests’ prerogative. Only they could do it and no one else, not even a Levite. So here was Korah’s chance to at least taste a little of the priestly rights and prerogatives that he coveted for himself.

Well, morning came and Korah and his insurrectionists showed up at the Tabernacle as instructed. In fact, the whole nation showed up. Moses then took them on a walk and led them to the tents where Korah, Dathan, and Abiram lived. Moses wanted these men to be with their families. Once there, Moses told the people what to do.

Numbers 16:26-30, Move away from the tents of these wicked men. Don’t touch anything that belongs to them, or you’ll be swept away because of all their sins.  (27)  So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing at the entrances to their tents with their wives and children.  (28)  Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord sent me to do all these things and that it wasn’t my idea:  (29)  If these men die like all other people-if they die a natural death-then the Lord hasn’t sent me.  (30)  But if the Lord does something totally new-if the ground opens up, swallows them and everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive to their graves-then you’ll know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.

The scene is emblazoned in my mind. It’s a sad, tragic picture that I cannot erase or forget. Its horrors haunt me. I can see Korah, Dathan, and Abiram at the door of their tents. I can see them gathered with their families. The men have one hand around their loving, beautiful wife; the other, tenderly holding on to the children. A smug look of defiance is on the face of each man, as if to say, Bring it on, Moses. Let’s see what you’ve got. But the women and children look with alarm, eyes enlarged with fear, as the authoritative voice of Moses thunders through the crowd.

Like standing beside the tracks as a train goes whizzing by, the earth begins to rumble. Softly, at first. Then, as the people begin to yell hysterically and run in fear, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram hold their families with both hands, as if to protect and shelter them from a coming calamity. The earth violently shakes and yawns, opening her mouth wide, and swallows the insurrectionists. Entire families, tents, and livestock—everything that belonged to these rebels—were sucked into a black hole. The earth closed her mouth. And the rebels—and everything they owned, the families they loved and held dear—were gone (Numbes 16:31-33).

What a sad, tragic, and dreadful end! It all began with Korah, Dathan, and Abiram moping around one day, wanting to know how they should do about righting a perceived wrong. After some deliberation, a decision was made. Let’s get a bunch of Israel’s most powerful and respected princes and let’s stage a showdown with Moses.

Unbeknownst to them, the decision would be a debacle. It would literally be an earth-shattering decision that would not only kill them, but kill their wives and children also. The insurrectionists saw what they wanted to see: they saw themselves forcing Moses’ hand and forcing him to cede more power to them. But what they didn’t see is what killed them. WHAT THEY WANTED, WHAT THEY COVETED, KILLED THEM. AND THOSE THEY LOVED.

Brethren, think slowly and think twice before you create a scene. Clear your mind and get God’s mind on the matter. YOUR DECISIONS AND ACTIONS AFFECT THE LIVES OF THE ONES YOU LOVE THE MOST. IN SOME WAYS REAL, THEIR LIVES AND WELL-BEING ARE IN YOUR HANDS. If not for yourself, then think of them. And don’t let your foolishness kill them.

1 Comment

  1. Brenda said,

    May 5, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    What a powerful message. A lesson I am learning the hard way, unfortunately.


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