I love watching movies – I am a big movie buff and a fan of the classics. But when I watch a movie, I don’t get sucked into the story until usually about the 3rd viewing, choosing instead to focus on the technical aspects of the movie. I focus on the cinematography, the lighting, the effects, the costumes, the music, and the quality of the acting.
There’s a story in Numbers 16 that seems like it was pulled right out of a science fiction movie.
The Israelites were always a difficult bunch to lead, but on this particular day Korah, Dathan, and Abiram took it just too far. They, along with 250 prominent men in their society, stood up against Moses and called him out. They said that he had exalted himself above them, claiming they were just as holy as Moses. They weren’t content with being leaders and Korah wasn’t content with just ministering in the temple (he was of the tribe of Levi), but they wanted to be part of the priesthood. Talk about rebellion!
So, in one of the craziest God showdowns in the Bible, the Lord opens up the ground and swallows Korah, Dathan, and Abiram and all their families and possessions. Then, to really emphasize how God feels about this kind of disobedience, he sent a fire that consumed the 250 men who had aligned themselves with the instigators – I would say that the Lord effectively squelched that rebellion attempt, proving that Moses and Aaron were indeed the leaders and mouthpieces that God had appointed.
After this whole showdown happens, God calls Eleazar to action.
“”Tell Eleazar the son of Aaron the priest to take up the censers out of the blaze. Then scatter the fire far and wide, for they have become holy. As for the censers of these men who have sinned at the cost of their lives, let them be made into hammered plates as a covering for the altar, for they offered them before the Lord, and they became holy. Thus they shall be a sign to the people of Israel.” So Eleazar the priest took the bronze censers, which those who were burned had offered, and they were hammered out as a covering for the altar…” Numbers 16:37-39 (ESV)
Can you imagine how frightening that entire situation would’ve been? First of all, a coup is full of supercharged emotions; a power grab is very stressful. Then Moses begins telling people to get away from the group of dissenters, followed by the ground opening up and the people disappearing – I think at about that time I would’ve run away and hid. But, that’s not all. The ground closed up again as if nothing ever happened, followed by an incredible fire that consumed the other men.
Now is when Eleazar is called to action. And though he might have been shaking in his boots, he was obedient to God.
Obedience can be scary. While I doubt that we’ll be dealing with such extreme circumstances, forgiving someone is scary. Having honest conversations can be hard. Telling people about Christ can be uncomfortable. Speaking the truth isn’t always well-received. But God is honored when we are obedient even when it costs us or gives us some discomfort.
When was the last time you obeyed in the face of overwhelming fear? How did that turn out for you? And how did God reveal himself to you in the midst of that season?
I encourage you to take a leap and obey God’s voice today!
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