Next time you are frustrated with your spiritual leader, or are tempted to go along with someone who is criticizing them, just remember what Hebrews says: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as those who must give an account.” So give your leader a break.
Going Deep // Focus: Numbers 16:1-3, 11
One day Korah…conspired with Dathan and Abiram…they incited a rebellion against Moses, along with 250 other leaders of the community, all prominent members of the assembly. 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. …Then Moses said, “The Lord is the one you and your followers are really revolting against!”
Just as we have learned in previous chapters about complaining (Exodus 15, Leviticus 6, Numbers 14), so criticism and rebellion against a spiritual leader is tacit rebellion against God himself:
The Lord is the one you and your followers are really revolting against! …these men have shown contempt for the Lord. (Numbers 16:11, 20)
Let this be a warning to all of us who follow Christ. God has placed spiritual leaders to watch over his people. They are charged with caring for them, protecting them from predators, representing their needs to God, representing God’s will to them, and leading them to accomplish God’s mission on Planet Earth. God always works through human leaders.
It is true, as Korah and Company pointed out, the spiritual leader that God has placed over the spiritual community, big or small, is no better than the people they serve. All of God’s people have been set apart. Yes, God is with them all. Korah was right.
But Korah was wrong to assume that there was no difference between Moses and those he led. He was mistaken in thinking that just anyone could lead. He failed to understand that not all had been set apart to administrate God’s presence among his people and to ensure those people were following in the ways of God. You see, not all had been taken into God’s confidence as the representative of the people—only Moses. Not all had been given the leader’s measure of authority to use for the good of the people—only Moses. Not all had been called to surrender their lives for the well-being of the flock they lead—only Moses.
You see, God has ordained a leader to lead his flock, and that leader alone is accountable to God for the faithful execution of the duties of leadership.
So when people reject the authority of the leader by complaining, criticizing, comparing and/or creating a rebellion, God will remove his covering from that person and they will suffer the consequences. In the case of these usurpers in Numbers 16, their punishment was instantaneous death in the most dramatic fashion: the four leaders of the uprising, along with their families and everything they owned were swallowed up by the earth while the 250 prominent people who sided with them were instantly vaporized by holy fire. Never has God made such a point about his desire that we submit to spiritual authority as he did on that day.
Now God may no longer execute judgment that quickly and dramatically toward against those who criticize and rebel against the spiritual authority that he has placed over them, but make no mistake, at some point, those who rebel have set up a blockage to God’s blessing. I am not predicting what the consequences might be—sickness, financial lack, loss of influence, family rebellion—but “don’t be misled—you cannot mock God. You will always harvest what you plant.” (Galatians 6:7)
Rebel against God’s authority and you will pay a heavy price. So let me make my appeal to you: honor your leader. Hebrews 13:7 and 17 says,
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. …Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
Next time you are frustrated with your spiritual leader, or are tempted to go along with someone who is criticizing them, just remember what Hebrews says: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.”
Give your leader a break. Not only do they have to watch over their own soul, they have the impossible task of keeping you holy and presenting you perfect before Christ.