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Rumination #36: Where did the idea that congregations need a "pastor" or a "messianic rabbi" come from? Not the Bible.

The Protestant Reformation failed in many ways, but one particular way it failed may have led to all its other failures. It is this: the Protestant Reformation failed to declare once and for all that the single leader model ultimately negates the leadership of Messiah.

Just as Korach's rebellion was to replace Moses, so too the one-man-show in pulpits and bimahs usurps the very leadership of Messiah. There is one Head of the Congregation of HaShem - it is Yeshua alone.

It is quite ironic that many self-appointed "pastors" and "messianic rabbis" lead the congregation away from the Torah of Moses. After all, they think of themselves as a kind of Moses. But there is only one Moses. By speaking against the "Law of Moses" - they show their personal rebellion against the Almighty. Men that seize the role are just like Korach, they are not leading people to G-d by leading them away from Moses. By rebelling against Moses, they are rebelling against Messiah. By annulling or diminishing the Torah, they make for themselves a new law and it is not G-d's Law, no matter what they say.

They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and HaShem is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the Kahal [Assembly] of HaShem?"
Numbers 16:3

And He [Messiah] is the head of the body, the Assembly, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
Colossians 1:18

Parashat Korach (Numbers 16:1-18:32)

This week's Scripture portion is named for a name in the first verse.

vaiyikkach Korach, ben-Yitzhar ben-K'hat ben-Levi; v'Datan va'Aviram b'nei Eli'av, v''on ben-Pelet
b'nei R'uven

Now Korah, the son of Yizchar, the son of Kohat, the son of Levi, and Datan and Aviram, the sons of Eliav, and On, the son of Pelet, sons of R'uven, took men.
Numbers 16:1

Rebellion in the Camp!

In this week's portion we read about the rebellion of Korach. Korach was of the Levitical line, but he was not of the priestly line of Aaron.  Interestingly, Korach's rebellious statements against Moses would not only be completely accepted within some quarters of Christianity today - they are the very basis for the modern religious leadership model.

Beloved, the rebellion of Korach continues to this day - but now this rebellion is institutionalized within every level of the religious establishment. Let me warn you now - if you are content with the status quo, read no further. This week's and last week's Scripture portions are a warning against the 1,900 year rebellion against the Almighty and His Prophet Moses.

The rebellion of Korach is not simply a rebellion against leadership, as is often preached from some pulpits. The rebellion of Korach, might I say the "Spirit of Korach," is the spirit that comes against two things:

By rebelling against those two things, the Spirit of Korach is in open rebellion to the promises and the very Person of G-d. But thousands of years of exposure to this "spirit" may have dulled our collective senses. Here is how the story unfolds.

Now Korach the son of Yitz'char, the son of Kohat, the son of Levi, with Datan and Aviram the sons of Eliav, and On the son of Pelet, sons of R'uven, took men; and they rose up before Moshe with some of the children of Yisra'el, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, representatives of the congregation, men of renown.

They gathered together against Moshe and Aharon, and said to them, "You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and HaShem is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of HaShem?"

So when Moshe heard it, he fell on his face; and he spoke to Korach and all his company, saying, "Tomorrow morning HaShem will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him. That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him."
Numbers 16:1-5

Korach was of the clan of Kohat. We saw them a few weeks ago. Their role in the Mish'kan [Tabernacle] was profound and very much a part of the Mish'kan service. However, they were not of the family of Aaron. The priesthood did not belong to them.

Now, consider Korach's point. It sounds pretty valid when taken with what has been erroneously called "New Testament" theology. After all, every believer is a priest isn't he or she? (yes they are, but that is another discussion). Maybe Korach "heard a call" to the ministry. Maybe he was a seminary graduate with three previous "pastorates" under his belt. Maybe he was a gifted speaker, or a celebrated author. Maybe he had once served with Billy Graham. Surely Korach had a right to serve G-d didn't he? No, he did not, if it was to usurp Moses and the eternal promise to the descendants of Aaron.

"Korach" means "bald. "Korach is the "Bald Reverend." This account is a shot across the bow to the one-man leadership that we see modeled many places today. The "ordination" of men (and being in the company of those men) apparently counts as nothing before the G-d of the Universe.

Korach Reveals the Essence of the Lawless One

An important insight as to the way that G-d responds to Korach's rebellion is found a few weeks ago in the portion from Numbers 12. Miriam also rebelled against Moses' authority and anointing. When she did, the entire camp knew that G-d spoke to and through Moses in an entirely different way than He spoke to anyone else.

Then He [G-d] said, "Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, HaShem, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of HaShem. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?"
Numbers 12:6-8

You would think that Korach and his co-conspirators would have learned from what happened to Aaron and Miriam when they complained about how Moses was somehow treated differently than the others. Let's be honest, no one likes "the Favorite" - and it sure looks like Moses has set himself up as G-d's favorite. Appearances can be deceiving. Korach did not "receive a call" (no matter what he said), and Moses had not set himself up - G-d had done that.

Beloved, you will never completely understand Scripture, and G-d's redemptive plan if you do not get this point: Moses is not like everyone else. The prophecy and anointing of Moses is the basis for the entire balance of Scripture. Diminish the revelation that G-d gave Moses and you diminish everything that follows. Some people have been doing that for 1,900 years. They think that by denigrating Moses and the revelation at Sinai, that they elevate Jesus. They do not, and the Torah itself tells us why.

I will raise up for them a Prophet like you [Moses] from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.
Deuteronomy 18:18-19

The Apostolic writers themselves repeatedly draw upon this passage. Peter in Acts 3, and Stephen in Acts 7, tell us that Yeshua is that "Prophet like Moses." Though we know that the anointing and authority of Yeshua is superior to that of Moses, we also know that since the source is the same (i.e. from G-d Himself) and we know that if someone rebels against "Moses" they are in fact rebelling against G-d. Likewise, if someone rebels against "Moses" they are in rebellion against Yeshua Who is G-d-come-in-the flesh. According to the words of the Master Himself, if one disregards the prophetic testimony of Moses, one will not truly follow the Master Yeshua.

But he said to him, "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead."
Luke 16:31

Here is a fundamental biblical principle: the "light to the heavy." This is a very biblical way of making comparisons. Yeshua does it repeatedly when He uses the phrase, "How much more..." Beloved, if your theology is in rebellion against the revelation of Moses, how much more will it be in rebellion against the revelation of Yeshua the Messiah, the Living Torah?

It is quite ironic that the very words and actions of Korach are played out in the man-made institutions that some call "church." Throwing off the "Law of Moses" they made a law for themselves. "After all," they reason, "Moses is a nobody compared to Jesus." In so doing they completely ignore the phrase repeated scores of times throughout the Torah, "And HaShem spoke unto Moses, saying, 'Speak to the Children of Israel...'" Who do these so-called theologians think they are? They are siding with the very enemies who attacked Yeshua and His first followers when they falsely accused them of turning away from the Torah of Moses! (Matt 26:60; Acts 6:13)

Beloved, they may not realize it, and most are terribly deceived - but if you want to see the rebellion of Korach, just take a look at some pulpits. No wonder cults like Mormonism, Jehovah's Witness, and the Unification Church have gained a foothold at the fringes of "Christianity" - because of the unbiblical teachings found in some quarters. One of those errant teachings says a later revelation can undo and annul an earlier one! Another one is that a congregation must follow one man - and the man is not Yeshua but a mere man who represents himself as if he was Moses, at the same time denigrating Moses.

But before you get too worked up about men who have usurped the only Head of G-d's Congregation (Yeshua Himself), look in the mirror. The rebellion of Korach will be staring back at you. We all rebel against the Torah of the Almighty. This rebellion is the very essence of sin. The beloved disciple John tells us,

Whoever commits sin also commits Torah-lessness, and sin is Torah-lessness.
1 John 3:4

If we explore this further in the Apostolic Scriptures we will discover that rebellion against the Torah is something that Korach and the coming "Anti-Christ" share.

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called G-d or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of G-d, showing himself that he is G-d. For the mystery of Torah-lessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the Torah-less one will be revealed, whom HaShem will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
2Thessalonians 1:3-4;7-8

Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.
Revelation 19:20

Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korach, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.
Numbers 16:31-33

The spirit that ruled Korach, and will rule the "Anti-Christ," is the same spirit that rebels against G-d and His instructions. It is the same spirit that declares that Yeshua is not the Messiah (1John 4:3). It is the same spirit that lies when it says,

However, that same spirit also lies and pervertsthe words that G-d gave to Moses.

Moses and his Torah are true, but Korah's company are liars.
b.Sanhedrin 110a

Beloved, there is rebellion in the camp of G-d. There are men and women who are seeking to claim a position and an anointing that is equal to, or superior to, that of Moses. In that, they do not speak for G-d, nor are they honoring the One Shepherd of the Flock of G-d, Yeshua. They have not "heard" a calling if that calling is to perpetuate rebellion against G-d's Word and His promises to Aaron and the descendants of Aaron.

There is rebellion in the camp every time we sin. Every time we read the words of the Almighty and turn to our own way we are following Korach's rebellion.

There is a reason why we naturally rebel against the words that HaShem spoke through Moses, when sometimes the words we find in the "New Testament" seem more appealing. It is because of this from Numbers 12:8, "I speak with him [Moses] face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings..." Beloved, we are naturally uncomfortable with the specifics. The Torah is quite detailed at times and it is very difficult to swallow (pun intended) that what we eat, or what we wear etc. matters to G-d. How much easier it is to read, "Love one another" and apply it in a way that makes sense to us. If you want to read and obey the Two Greatest Commandments ("Love HaShem Your G-d", and "Love your neighbor" from Matthew 22) you better start studying Torah; because it is within it that we find the very definition of those commands. Apart from the Torah, the Apostolic Scriptures have no foundation, since it is from the Torah itself that the Apostolic Scriptures claim their authority and inspiration from G-d.

The Grace of HaShem

There is a word of encouragement however amidst the story of the rebellion of Korach. Later on in Numbers, we read:

Nevertheless the children of Korach did not die.
Numbers 26:11

The very man who led a religious rebellion against Moses has descendants who were appointed by King David to be the principle singers and musicians in the worship of the Most High. The mercy of HaShem we see in this should cause us to repent of any revulsion we may feel when we read of the fate of Korach and his rebellious conspirators. Maybe even a more amazing indication of the grace of the Almighty is found when we examine the genealogy of those descendants of Korach who were appointed as the musicians of the Misk'kan and later of the Temple in Jerusalem. Within that very genealogy we find Samuel, one of the greatest of all prophets - one who, like Moses, heard the very voice of G-d speaking in plain words. Samuel was a descendant of the rebel Korach. He was the prophet and king-anointer. The prophet Samuel, was a mere Levite, adopted into the family of Eli who was himself a descendant of Aaron (1Chron 6:31-37; 1Sam 1:1-2). Many of the Psalms within our holy Scriptures were written by the descendants of Korach. The irony of it is breathtaking, isn't it?

Beloved, rather than rebelling against the Torah of G-d, spoken through His prophet Moses, affirmed by Messiah Yeshua as a description of His very character; we should seek to humble ourselves like Moses (Numbers 12:3), and seek to obey G-d in what He has revealed. We can know that we will experience the same grace that G-d showed to the descendants of Korach - whereas one of his descendants did indeed hear the voice of HaShem, and he did indeed serve as a priest before the HaShem.

In the end, the "Bald Reverend" is not "Reverend" at all. Say "good-bye" to Korach...

Haftarat Korach (1Samuel 11:14-12:22)

Our haftarah portion from the Prophets is connected to the Torah portion in two ways. First, the topic is about how Israel demanded a king like the nations around her. This further reveals the point about the contest between Moses and Korach was not about authority, but rather about rebelling against the Almighty's Torah. Similarly, Israel was not content with HaShem as King, and demanded that Samuel give them a "real king." Samuel complied, as G-d commanded him to. The second connection is actually in the person of Samuel. Samuel the prophet was a descendant of Korach. As a student of the Torah, you know that not all of Korach's sons were destroyed when Korach went down alive into the pit. In fact, the sons of Korach are the praise makers of the First Temple era. Samuel, of course, is Korach's most famous descendant. Samuel is the exact opposite of Korach.

Beloved, get it clear: the spirit of Korach is not rebelling against authority. The spirit of Korach is rebellion against Moses and the Torah that HaShem spoke through him. It is rebelling against the eternal priesthood of Aaron. Our haftarah further reveals this.

It starts off somewhat innocuously.

Then Samuel said to the people, "Come, let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there." So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before HaShem in Gilgal. There they made sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
1Samuel 11:14-15

Then we get a little history lesson as to why we are here, crowning a king - and it isn't pretty.

Then Samuel said to the people, "It is HaShem who raised up Moses and Aaron, and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt. Now therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before HaShem concerning all the righteous acts of HaShem which He did to you and your fathers: When Jacob had gone into Egypt, and your fathers cried out to HaShem, then HaShem sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. And when they forgot HaShem their G-d, He sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab; and they fought against them. Then they cried out to HaShem, and said, 'We have sinned, because we have forsaken HaShem and served the Baals and Ashtoreths; but now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You.' And HaShem sent Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side; and you dwelt in safety. And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, 'No, but a king shall reign over us,' when HaShem your G-d was your king.

Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. And take note, HaShem has set a king over you. If you fear HaShem and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of HaShem, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following HaShem your G-d. However, if you do not obey the voice of HaShem, but rebel against the commandment of HaShem, then the hand of HaShem will be against you, as it was against your fathers.
1Samuel 12:6-15

It isn't so nice having a king. The king may try to release us from our duty to HaShem. He may make new laws for us - laws that enslave us. The king may lead us away from HaShem, all the while telling us that serving him is similar to serving HaShem. The king may have visions and dreams, and set before us goals and purposes. Purposes which are not HaShem's, although the king may say that they are. The king may be "purpose driven" and his purposes may not be HaShem's.

Beloved, Samuel's warnings are warnings for us today. The spirit of Korach is present today. It is found in "purpose-driven," "vision-for-the-lost," and "build-it-and-they-will-come" religion. Beloved, the men who give us such purposes and visions are just men. Their visions, if they lead us away from the commandments of HaShem are false visions. The end of their purposes and visions will be just like those of Korach. They end in destruction.

So the next time some man starts claiming authority to fulfill some "spiritual purpose" - and wants your money to do it, search it out. There is one test for a man who claims a "vision" or a "purpose."

If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods' - which you have not known - 'and let us serve them, 'you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for HaShem your G-d is testing you to know whether you love HaShem your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after HaShem your G-d and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.  But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from HaShem your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which HaShem your G-d commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.
Deuteronomy 13:1-5

HaShem is our only King. Messiah is the only Head of His congregation. He is our only Master. Get away from Korach. Even being close to him brings destruction.

Prayer Focus for Korach -  "Ezrat" [Helper]

After the morning Shema, there are several blessings that we pray. In the middle of those blessings is Ezrat. It is one of my favorites.

The Helper of our forefathers are You alone, forever, Shield and Savior for their children after then in every generation. At the zenith of the universe is Your dwelling, and Your justice and Your righteousness extend to the ends of the earth. Praiseworthy is the person who obeys Your commandments and takes to his heart Your teaching and Your Word.

True - You are the Master for Your people and a mighty King to take up their grievance.

True - You are the First and You are the Last, and other than You we have no king, redeemer, or savior...

-- ArtScroll Translation  

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Rick Spurlock
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