This is the 16th lesson in a series of lessons on the book of Jude. In this lesson I look at Jude 1:11c, focusing on “the rebellion of Korah”.
In this lesson I’m going to take a brief look at the men name Korah to see who Jude was talking about. Then I’m going to look at Numbers 16 which tells us about the rebellion of Korah. I’ll talk in general terms about what the Bible overall has to say about rebellion, particularly rebellion against God. I’ll take a look at the book of Jude and see what Jude has to say about the rebellion of Korah. Then I’ll take a look at what rebellion against God looks like in our culture, particularly in our churches.
Watch the video or scroll down to read a transcript.
Thanks for visiting Bible Mountain. This is the 16th lesson in a series of lessons on the book of Jude. In this lesson I’m going to look at verse 11 and talk about the rebellion of Korah.
Woe to them,
they went in the way of Cain,
they were poured out to the error
of the wage of Balaam, and
they were destroyed in the rebellion of Korah.
The last four words of verse 11 are “the rebellion of Korah”. There are actually three people in the Bible who were named Korah.
In this lesson I’m going to take a brief look at these men name Korah to see who Jude was talking about. Then I’m going to look at Numbers 16 which tells us about the rebellion of Korah. I’ll talk in general terms about what the Bible overall has to say about rebellion, particularly rebellion against God. I’ll take a look at the book of Jude and see what Jude has to say about the rebellion of Korah. Then I’ll take a look at what rebellion against God looks like in our culture, particularly in our churches.
I used a computer program called Accordance to do a concordance search for the word Korah. This name appears 40 times throughout the Bible.
In Genesis Korah refers to a descendant of Esau. In Exodus Korah refers to a descendant of Levi. Numbers 16 is where we read about the rebellion of Korah and that person was the descendant of Levi.
In 1 Chronicles 1 we see a reference to Korah. That was the descendant of Esau. 1 Chronicles 2 has a reference to Korah. That was a descendant of the tribe of Judah. In 1 Chronicles 6 Korah is a reference to the descendant of Levi. Throughout the rest of the Bible, any reference to Korah is a reference to the descendant of Levi.
Many of the Psalms were written by the Sons of Korah. That person named Korah is the same person who was involved in the rebellion of Korah.
In the New Testament the name Korah appears once and that is the verse that we’re looking at in this lesson.
Let’s take a look at a timeline and a map. At the beginning of the Bible, we read about Adam. He lived roughly 4000 BC. We read about Noah and the flood which was roughly 2500 BC. Then we read about Abram. He lived roughly 2000 BC.
Abram had a son named Isaac. Isaac had a son named Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons who are listed for us in Genesis 29-30.
In Genesis 41 we learn that Joseph had two sons: Ephraim and Manasseh. Then in Genesis 48 we read that Jacob, towards the end of his life, blessed Joseph. Jacob claimed Joseph’s two sons as his own sons. That meant there were now 13 men who were considered to be the sons of Jacob.
As you know, we always refer to the 12 tribes of Israel. If Jacob had 13 sons, why were there only 12 tribes? The answer to that is found in Numbers 18. This chapter tells us that Levi did not receive an inheritance of land like the other brothers because the Levites were the priestly tribe. Throughout the Bible, when you see a list of the 12 tribes of Israel who settled the Promised Land, Levi and Joseph are not listed as one of the tribes. Instead, we see Ephraim and Manasseh.
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived roughly 2000 BC. Then we get to the book of Exodus. The events in Exodus happened roughly 1500 BC.
At the beginning of the book of Exodus, the Israelites were in Egypt. They were in slavery. We read that Moses led them out of slavery into the wilderness to Mount Sinai where he gave them the Mosaic Law.
Once they were done receiving the law, the book of Numbers tells us the Israelites were told to enter the Promised Land. So they went up to Kadesh Barnea and sent spies into the Promised Land, but then the Israelites turned against Moses. They believed they were not strong enough to conquer the Promised Land. Therefore, God told them they had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years.
It was shortly after the spies returned that the rebellion of Korah took place as recorded in Numbers 16.
Num. 16:1 Now Korah the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, with Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took action, 2 and they rose up before Moses, together with some of the sons of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen in the assembly, men of renown.
Korah rose up. Korah was a son of Levi, but he was joined by Dathan, Abiram, and On. They were sons of Reuben. In addition to them, there were 250 other leaders who rose up. These leaders were called men of renown. This was a very serious rebellion.
Moses was the leader of the Israelites. Moses was a descendant of Levi. Korah was one of the men who rebelled. He was also a descendant of Levi. The other leaders of the rebellion were Dathan, Abiram, and On. They were descendants of Reuben.
Reuben was the firstborn, so in some ways it made sense that people in the tribe of Reuben felt that somebody from Reuben should be the leader of the Israelites. But as you know, God had appointed Moses as the leader of Israel and he was from the tribe of Levi.
Num. 16:3 They assembled together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You have gone far enough, for all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is in their midst; so why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?”
These men accused Moses of exalting himself, but that wasn’t true. God is the One who appointed Moses as the leader.
Num. 16:4 When Moses heard this, he fell on his face; 5 and he spoke to Korah and all his company, saying, “Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His, and who is holy, and will bring him near to Himself; even the one whom He will choose, He will bring near to Himself. 6 “Do this: take censers for yourselves, Korah and all your company, 7 and put fire in them, and lay incense upon them in the presence of the LORD tomorrow; and the man whom the LORD chooses shall be the one who is holy. You have gone far enough, you sons of Levi!”
Num. 16:8 Then Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi, 9 is it not enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of 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 to them; 10 and that He has brought you near, Korah, and all your brothers, sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking for the priesthood also? 11 “Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the LORD; but as for Aaron, who is he that you grumble against him?”
Notice the word enough in verse 9. Moses asked Korah, “Is it not enough that God separated you and put you in charge of the service of the tabernacle?” We see that Korah was not satisfied with what he had. He wanted more and that caused problems for him. That led him into sin.
Notice also Moses pointed out very correctly that these men were actually rebelling against Yahweh. The rebels made it sound like they were rebelling against Moses, but Moses had been appointed by Yahweh; therefore, they were really rebelling against Yahweh.
Num. 16:12 Then Moses sent a summons to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab; but they said, “We will not come up. 13 “Is it not enough that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey to have us die in the wilderness, but you would also lord it over us? 14 “Indeed, you have not brought us into a land flowing with milk and honey, nor have you given us an inheritance of fields and vineyards. Would you put out the eyes of these men? We will not come up!”
Dathan and Abiram pointed out something that was true. At this point, Moses had not brought them into a land flowing with milk and honey. That had been the promise back in Egypt. It was not Moses’ fault; nevertheless, it was true that at this point they had not yet entered a land flowing with milk and honey.
Num. 16:15 Then Moses became very angry and said to the LORD, “Do not regard their offering! I have not taken a single donkey from them, nor have I done harm to any of them.” 16 Moses said to Korah, “You and all your company be present before the LORD tomorrow, both you and they along with Aaron. 17 “Each of you take his firepan and put incense on it, and each of you bring his censer before the LORD, two hundred and fifty firepans; also you and Aaron shall each bring his firepan.” 18 So they each took his own censer and put fire on it, and laid incense on it; and they stood at the doorway of the tent of meeting, with Moses and Aaron. 19 Thus Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the doorway of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation.
Num. 16:20 Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, 21 “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.” 22 But they fell on their faces and said, “O God, God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, will You be angry with the entire congregation?”
Num. 16:23 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 24 “Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Get back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’”
Num. 16:25 Then Moses arose and went to Dathan and Abiram, with the elders of Israel following him, 26 and he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing that belongs to them, or you will be swept away in all their sin.” 27 So they got back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the doorway of their tents, along with their wives and their sons and their little ones. 28 Moses said, “By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing. 29 “If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer the fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me. 30 “But if the LORD brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the LORD.”
Moses made it clear here that what was about to happen was going to prove that God had sent Moses. Notice also the word spurn. Moses made it very clear that these men were not spurning Moses or Aaron, they were actually spurning Yahweh.
Num. 16:31 As he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open; 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions. 33 So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. 34 All Israel who were around them fled at their outcry, for they said, “The earth may swallow us up!” 35 Fire also came forth from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense.
That is the story of Korah.
Next, as recorded in the Book of Numbers, the Israelites went back out into the wilderness, and they wandered around for 40 years. Towards the end of the 40 years, it was time for them to enter the Promised Land.
They traveled up the east side of Edom and Moab. Then they traveled through Ammon and arrived on the east side of the Jordan River.
At that point Moses reviewed with the Israelites their history and their law. That’s recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy. We have an interesting verse in Deuteronomy.
Deut. 9:7 “Remember, do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day that you left the land of Egypt until you arrived at this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD.
We see the word rebellious. Moses pointed out that the Israelites rebelled against the Lord constantly during those 40 years in the wilderness.
Next we have the book of Joshua. Joshua tells us the Israelites crossed the Jordan River and conquered the Promised Land. They lived there for several hundred years. Then they had a king named Saul.
The following is Samuel talking to Saul.
1Sam. 15:23 “For rebellion is as the sin of divination,
And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD,
He has also rejected you from being king.”
This was a strong statement about rebellion. Samuel said rebellion and insubordination are as bad as divination, iniquity, and idolatry. That is a very strong statement against rebellion.
After Saul, David became king. King David lived roughly 1000 BC.
Over the next 500-600 years, there were various prophets: the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets. One of them was Ezekiel. Ezekiel lived towards the end of the Old Testament time period. The Lord said the following to Ezekiel about the Israelites.
Ezek. 2:3 Then He said to me, “Son of man, I am sending you to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who have rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have transgressed against Me to this very day.
There was a constant pattern of rebellion by the Israelites against God from the time they left Egypt up until the time of Ezekiel, which was roughly 500 BC.
The Old Testament ended approximately 400 BC. Then Jesus came roughly 0 AD which ushered in what we often call the New Testament time period.
In the New Testament the first four books are the Gospels. They tell us about the life of Jesus here on Earth which was roughly 0 AD to 35 AD. Then we have the book of Acts which tells us what the Apostles of Jesus did after Jesus went back to heaven. That was roughly 35 AD up to 65 AD.
During that time period, and a little bit after, the rest of the books in the New Testament were written. Most of these are letters. One of these letters called Titus was written by Paul. Paul wrote about rebellion in this letter.
Titus 1:10 For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,
Notice the word many. He wrote there are many rebellious men. There are not just a few, there are many.
Rebellion is also mentioned in Jude. Jude mentioned specifically the rebellion of Korah. In Jude 1:3-4 Jude wrote why he wrote the book of Jude.
making every effort to write to you
about our common salvation,
I felt the necessity to write to you
urging you to contend for the faith
which has been delivered over
once for all to the saints.
For certain people crept in secretly,
those who were long ago
designated into this judgment,
turning the grace of our God into sensuality
and denying our only Master and Lord
Jude urged his readers to contend for the faith. He did that because certain people had crept in secretly. One of the things these people were doing was denying our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ.
Notice the words Master and Lord. The words Master and Lord imply authority of Jesus over others. If these men were denying our Master and Lord Jesus Christ, that means they were rebelling against our Master, against our Lord.
Nevertheless, likewise also
are defiling flesh,
and blaspheming majesties.
Jude wrote that these men who had crept into the church secretly were rejecting authority. That’s a different way of stating they were rebelling against God.
Woe to them,
they went in the way of Cain,
they were poured out to the error
of the wage of Balaam, and
they were destroyed in the rebellion of Korah.
Notice the word “woe”. That is a warning. The pronoun “them” refers to the men who had crept into the church secretly. The word “because” tells us that Jude is about to tell us why he was issuing this warning to these men. There were three reasons. The third one was they were destroyed in the rebellion of Korah. We read that story in the book of Numbers.
Notice the word destroyed. Korah, when he rebelled, was completely destroyed. Jude issued a strong warning to these men who had crept into the church that they too were going to be destroyed.
What we have here in Jude is a strong statement against rebelling against God. He used the story of Korah to point out the severity and seriousness of rebelling against God.
Let’s talk a little bit about what that looks like in our culture.
Yahweh produced the Bible. The Bible contains Yahweh’s instructions. Therefore, disobeying the Bible equals rebellion against Yahweh. So in our culture, whenever there’s disobedience to the Bible, that is a form of rebellion against Yahweh.
Let’s look at some ways that is happening in our culture today. First, think about the role of women. The Bible has very clear things to say about the role of women in church. However, many, if not most, churches today have women doing things the Bible very specifically prohibits them from doing. That is a form of rebellion against Yahweh.
Also, our culture is redefining marriage. Many churches are caving in to that. They’re refusing to take a stand. Redefining marriage is also rebellion against Yahweh because the Bible very clearly defines what marriage is.
Another thing happening in Christianity today is we are actually, in some ways, redefining the church. The Bible defines church as believers gathering together to encourage one another and pray for one another. We are to sharpen one another. We are to study the Bible together.
Unfortunately, many churches today have redefined church as a gathering to be entertained. Music and the so-called preaching in many churches today are designed to entertain people. In the process of entertaining people, they are not sharpening people, which is one of the prime functions of the church. In that sense, many churches today are redefining church because they’re not sharpening one another the way the Bible tells us we should be sharpening each other.
We see in the story of Korah the seriousness of rebelling against Yahweh. We see throughout the Old Testament that rebellion against Yahweh was a common problem. Paul wrote in one of his letters that there were many rebellious men. Jude addressed specifically men who had crept into the church who were denying Jesus, who were resisting authority, and who were rebelling against Yahweh.
We see the seriousness of rebelling against Yahweh. So when we look around Christianity today and see people not obeying the Bible regarding the role of women, the definition of marriage, and the definition of church, we should take those sins very seriously because God takes rebellion very seriously.
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