March 15: The Power Struggle
Numbers 16:1–50; John 21:1–25; Psalm 17:1–15
Every leader faces power struggles—from those who follow the leader and from those the leader follows. If there isn’t some sort of struggle, the leader probably isn’t doing his or her job well. It’s simple: those who make everyone happy probably aren’t pushing people to be better, and pushing will—at times—frustrate both the leaders and the followers.
Moses regularly experienced leadership struggles. In Numbers 16, Korah—accompanied by 250 men who were leaders in Israel—calls Moses and Aaron’s leadership into question, saying, “You take too much upon yourselves! All of the community is holy, every one of them, and Yahweh is in their midst, so why do you raise yourselves over the assembly of Yahweh?” (Num 16:3). They’re using Moses’ words, spoken on behalf of Yahweh, against him here: “you will belong to me as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exod 19:6). But they made one faulty assumption in doing so. Yahweh had prefaced these words by saying, “if you will carefully listen to my voice and keep my covenant, you will be a treasured possession for me out of all the peoples, for all the earth is mine, but …” and then He continued with the line Korah quoted (Exod 19:5–6).
Surely Moses knows this, and he is well aware of their folly. But rather than answering the fool according to his folly, he responds by prostrating himself—an act of worship toward God and humility toward those he serves: the people of Israel. He then says, “Tomorrow morning Yahweh will make known who is his and who is holy, and he will bring him near to him, whomever he chooses he will bring near to him” (Num 16:5). It appears that in that moment of prostration, Moses prayed and was immediately given an answer. He insists on bringing the matter before God Himself.
Moses could have defended himself by insisting upon the special nature by which God had revealed Himself to him. Or he could have noted to Korah that he is only out of Egypt—and thus able to call Moses into question—because Moses was obedient to God. He even could have noted that Korah was only in leadership at all because Moses listened to God and appointed him. But instead, he insisted on bringing it before God. He did, though, follow up by telling Korah that he had plenty of authority and shouldn’t be so greedy (Num 16:8–11).
This event demonstrates the kind of faith that we should all have in what God asks us to do.
How do you respond when people question what God has asked you to do? How can your response in the future be more like Moses’?
JOHN D. BARRY
- Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi went apart with Dathan, and Abiram the son of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, the sons of Reuben: And they rose up against Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty captains of the assembly, famous in the Congregation, and men of renown, Who gathered themselves together against Moses, and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the Congregation is holy, every one o fthem, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye yourselves above the Congregation of the Lord? But when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face, And spake to Korah and unto all his company, saying, Tomorrow the Lord will show who is his, and who is holy, and who ought to approach near unto him: and whom he hath chosen, he will cause to come near to him. This do therefore, Take you censers, both Korah and all his company, And put fire therein, and put incense in them before the Lord tomorrow: and the man whom the Lord doth choose, the same shall be holy: ye take too much upon you, ye sons of Levi. Again Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi. Seemeth it a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the multitude of Israel, to take you near to himself, to do the service of the Tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the Congregation, and to minister unto them? He hath also taken thee to him, and all thy brethren, the sons of Levi with thee, and seek ye the office of the Priest also? For which cause, thou, and all thy company are gathered together against the Lord: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him? And Moses sent to call Dathan, and Abiram the sons of Eliab: who answered, We will not come up. Is it a small thing that thou hast brought us out of a land that floweth with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, except thou make thyself lord and ruler over us also? Also thou hast not brought us unto a land that floweth with milk and honey, neither given us inheritance of fields and vineyards: wilt thou put out the eyes of these men? we will not come up. Then Moses waxed very angry, and said unto the Lord, Look not unto their offering: I have not taken so much as an ass from them, neither have I hurt any of them. And Moses said unto Korah, Be thou and all thy company before the Lord: both thou, they, and Aaron tomorrow. And take every man his censer, and put fire in them, and laid incense thereon, and stood in the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation with Moses and Aaron. And Korah gathered all the multitude against them unto the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation: then the glory of the Lord appeared unto all the Congregation. And the Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying, Separate yourselves from among the Congregation, that I may consume them at once. And they fell upon their faces and said, O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, hath not one man only sinned, and wilt thou be wroth with all the Congregation? And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the Congregation, and say, Get you away from about the Tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Then Moses rose up, and went unto Dathan and Abiram, and the Elders of Israel followed him. And he spake unto the Congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye perish in all their sins. So they got them away from the Tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood in the door of their tents, with their wives, and their sons, and their little children. And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the Lord hath sent me to do all these works: for I have not done them of mine own mind. If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men, the Lord hath not sent me. But if the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up with all that they have, and they go down quick into the pit: then ye shall understnad that these men have provoked the Lord. And as soon as he had made an en of speaking all the words, even the ground clave asunder that was under them, And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up with their families, and all the men that were with Korah, and all their goods. So they and allthat they had, went down alive into the pit, and the earth covered them: so they perished from among the Congregation. And all Israel that were about them, fled at the cry of them: for they said, Let us flee, lest the earth swallow us up. But there came out a fire from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered the incense. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Eleazar the son of Aaron the Priest, that he take up the censers out of the burning, and scatter the fire beyond the altar: for they are hallowed, The censers, I say, of these sinners, that destroyed themselves: and let them make of them broad plates for a covering of the Altar: for they offered them before the Lord, therefore they shall be holy, and they shall be a sign unto the children of Israel. Then Eleazar the Priest took the brazen censers, which they that were burnt had offered, and made broad plates of them for a covering of the Altar. It is a remembrance unto the children of Israel, that no stranger which is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before the Lord, that he be not like Korah and his company, as the Lord said to him by the hand of Moses. But on the morrow all the multitude of the childre of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron saying, Ye have killed the people of the Lord. And when the Congregation was gathered against Moses and against Aaron, then they turned their faces toward the tabernacle of the Congregation: and behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord appeared. Then Moses and Aaron were come before the Tabernacle of the Congregation. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Get you up from among this Congregation: for I will consume them quickly: then they fell upon their faces. And Moses said unto Aaron, Take the censer and put fire therein of the Altar, and put therein incense, and go quickly unto the Congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the Lord: the plague is begun. Then Aaron took as Moses commanded him, and ran into the midst of the Congregation, and behold, the plague was begun among the people, and he put incense, and made an atonement for the people. And when he stood between the dead, and them that were alive, the plague was stayed. So they died of this plague fourteen thousand and seven hundred, beside them that died in the conspiracy of Korah. And Aaron went again unto Moses before the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and the plague was stayed. Numbers 16:1–50
- After these things, Jesus showed himself again to his disciples at the sea of Tiberias: and thus showed he himself: There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas, which is called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said unto them, I go a fishing. They said unto him, We also will go with thee, They went thier way and entere dinto a ship straightway, and that night caught they nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: nevertheless the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus then said unto them, Sirs, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. Then he said unto them, Cast out the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. So they cast out, and they were not able at all to draw it, for the multitude of fishes. Therefore said the disciple whom Jesus loved, unto Peter, It is the Lord. When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girded his coat to him (for he was naked) and cast himself into the sea. But the other disciples came by ship, (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits) and they drew the net with fishes. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw hot coals, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus said unto them, Bring of the fishes, which ye have now caught. Simon Peter stepped forth and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred, fifty and three: and albeit there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus said unto them, Come, and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? seeing they knew that he was the Lord. Jesus then came and took bread and gave them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen again from the dead. So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon the son of Jonah, lovest thou me more than these? He said unto him, Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He said unto him, Feed my lambs. He said to him again the second time, Simon the son of Jonah, lovest thou me? He said unto him, Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He said unto him, Feed my sheep. He said unto him the third time, Simon the son of Jonah, lovest thou me? Peter was sorry because he said to him the third time, Lovest thou me? and said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee, Jesus said unto him, Feed my sheep. Verily, verily I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thine hands, and another shall gird thee, and lead thee without thou wouldest not. And this spake he signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, Follow me. Then Peter turned around, and saw the disciple whom JESUS loved, following, which had also leaned on his breast at supper, and had said, Lord which is he that betrayeth thee? When Peter therefore saw him, he said to Jesus, Lord, what shall this man do? Jesus said unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is it to thee? follow thou me. Then went this word abroad among the brethren, that this disciple should not die. Yet Jesus said not to him, He shall not die: but if I will that he tarry till I come, what is it to thee? This is that disciple, which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. Now there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose the world could not contain the books that should be written, Amen . John 21:1–25
- Hear the right, O Lord, consier my cry: hearken unto my prayer of lips unfeigned. Let my sentence come forth from thy presence, and let thine eyes behold equity. Thou hast proved and visited mine heart in the night: thou hast tried me, and foundest nothing: for I was purposed that my mouth should not offend. Concerning the works of men, by the words of thy lips I kept me from the paths of the cruel man. Stay my steps in thy paths, that my feet do not slide. I have called upon thee: surely thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear to me, and hearken unto my words. Show thy marvelous mercies: thou that art the Savior of them that trust in thee, from such as resist thy right hand. Keep me as the apple of the eye: hide me under the shadow of thy wings. From the wicked that oppress me, from mine enemies, which compass me round about for my soul. They are enclosed in their own fat, and they have spoken proudly with their mouth. They have compassed us now in our steps: they have set their eyes to bring down to the ground. Like as a lion that is greedy of prey, and as it were a Lion’s whelp lurking in secret places. Up Lord, disappoint him: cast him down: delive my soul from the wicked with thy sword, From men by thine hand, O Lord, from men of the world, who have their portion in this life, whose bellies thou fillest with thine hid treasure: their children have enough, and leave the rest of their substance for their children. But I will behold thy face in righteousness, and when I wake, I shall be satisifed with thine image. Psalm 17:1–15