“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – Sir John Dalberg-Acton
“Power is dangerous. It corrupts the best and attracts the worst. Power is only given to those who are prepared to lower themselves to pick it up.” – Ragnar Lothbrok
In the classic tale of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien attempts to draw a parallel between power and corruption. An all-powerful ring, the one ring, allures those who desire power only to corrupt them and drive them crazy. This is most vividly depicted in the sulky creature Gollum. His body has been twisted as well as his mind, he desires nothing but the ring, and his entire life is bent on its power. The power of the ring drives Gollum to do some atrocious things, and eventually even claims his own life. Though leadership is not wrong, the pursuit of power can be a dangerous trek to tread.
In our text, we find men who became ambitious for more and more position and power. Their assumption was the way to get exalted was to forcefully exalt themselves. Their pride led them to question God’s authority and the sincerity of their leadership placed by God over them. Number sixteen really is a sad commentary of the dangers of pride and greed.
Korah seems to be the major player in this text as his name is mentioned the most and always first. Korah was from the tribe of Levi, and was set apart to the work of the tabernacle. He was also a Kohathite who had the great privilege of caring for and transporting the tabernacle furniture, including the Ark of the Covenant. Although he held all these honors and positions it wasn’t enough for him, and he wanted more. Moses even address this very truth in numbers 16:9 – “Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?” Is your job too small for you Korah? Have you arrived, and now you deserve to be elevated to leadership?
Korah is actually identified in the New Testament in the characteristics of false prophets in Jude 1:11 – “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core (Korah).” Gainsaying simply means disobedience, or saying that with riles others up against another. Korah’s great sin was dissatisfaction with where God had put him, and an ambition to overthrown God’s man and authority.
I don’t know what ministry or place God has set you in, but be content. The desire to accomplish something great and ambitious for God is not wrong, but the ambition to make yourself great is. When we strive to make a name for ourselves and to “become” something in the eyes of those around us, we fall into the folly of Korah. Be everything God wants you to be where you are, and if He wants to exalt you He will do it in His time and will. Be humble, and let God do the exalting.
Today make the conscience decision to be the very best you can be at what God has made you. Strive to accomplish everything for His glory, not for promotion and advancement. Retire the idea of greatness in the eyes of men, and instead strive for greatness in the eyes of God.
Daily Scripture Reading
Numbers 16 - 17
“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.”