Joseph Shulam – Mount Juliet, Tennessee
The reading of this week is a double portion of Korah – Numbers 16:1 -18:32. Korah is the ultimate lesson in leadership in time of crisis.
I suppose that in a life time of every leader there are moments that could be suggestive of the situation of Moses and his cousins the family of Korah.
We have already seen in Numbers 12 the rebellion of Aaron and Miriam, the older brother and older sister of Moses who have been his first hand personal supporters and partners in the leadership of Israel out of Egyptian slavery into freedom. Miriam criticized Moses and spoke against him, and the result was immediately infected with leprosy. Moses her brother prayed for Miriam’s healing from leprosy, and she was healed. It seems like the people of the tribe of Levi did not learn from Miriam’s experience and they come to Moses together with two dubious characters of whom we have heard before, Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben. Korah and his family are from the tribe of Levi and Dathan and Abiram are from the tribe of Reuben. What do these people from different tribes have in common and why would they want to cooperate in this rebellious action against God’s anointed ones, Moses and Aaron? What is their claim against Moses and Aaron?
- Numbers 16:3, “You take too much upon yourselves. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?”
- “You take too much [responsibility] upon yourselves.”
- “All the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them.”
- We are just as good as you and have the same relationship with God that you have. We can lead the people better than you can because we are united in a union and we are more than you two.
- “We want democracy – equal rights – you are not special and therefore you can’t have special privileges as leaders.
- They claim that any one of the 250 men of renown, leaders of their tribes, are just as good as Moses and Aaron and that there is nothing special in the relationship of Moses and Aaron with God that is different from what every one of the leaders of the tribes has.
- You can see the modern humanistic values peeping through the dark vail of a rebellious spirit and hunger and greed for leadership, recognition, and wanting a piece of the action from the swamp of government.
- Around great men of God there always those of lesser character and greater hunger for power motivated by feelings of inadequacy and less self-worth, like Korah and Dathan and Abiram. They feel ignored and slighted. They feel underprivileged. If someone has just a little more than I have I must feel that he is obtaining the position by abuse and evil motivation. Equality is a tool in the hands of Korah and his group and Dathan and Abiram and their group to get into the places of power for motives that are less than holy.
Moses’ response to this rebellion of some of his own relatives?
“So when Moses heard it, he fell on his face; 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 cause him to come near to Him. That one whom He chooses He will cause to come near to Him. Do this: Take censers, Korah and all your company; put fire in them and put incense in them before the LORD tomorrow, and it shall be that the man whom the LORD chooses is the holy one. You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!””
(Numbers 16:4–7 NKJV)
- Moses falls on his face – out of grief and sadness.
- Moses does not take the action against these people by himself. He leaves the action to God. There is no leader that can really defend himself against such accusations as Korah and his group levee against a leader. Anything that he would do would only prove their claims as true.
- Moses leaves the matter in the hands of the Almighty Himself. Moses tells the rebellious:
- Please wait till tomorrow morning the Lord will show who is His and who is holy.
- The Lord will take those who are claiming to be holy.
- You are Levites – take your censers (little shovels) and fill them with incense put fire in your censers and come before the Lord tomorrow. This action is actually the daily normal activity of the Korahites they as Levites brought the incense before the Lord.
- Notice that Moses turns around the same argument that the sons of Korah had against him and Aaron, “You take too much upon yourselves, you sons of Levi!”
- Moses did get angry, but his anger was managed well and he spoke to the Lord: Num. 16:15, “Then Moses was very angry, and said to the LORD, “Do not respect their offering. I have not taken one donkey from them, nor have I hurt one of them.”
- The Lord heard the prayer of Moses and this is what happened next: “So every man took his censer, put fire in it, laid incense on it, and stood at the door of the tabernacle of meeting with Moses and Aaron. And Korah gathered all the congregation against them at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation.”
- Before the Lord took action against the rebellion of the Korahite group He warned Moses and Aaron and the rest of Israel to get away from the gang of the rebellious leaders: “Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.”
- The LORD creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected the LORD.”” (Numbers 16:18–30 NKJV)
What can we as leaders learn from this sad occasion in the history of our people in a period when the Lord’s presence was visible by day and by night, in a period that all of Israel enjoyed the daily miracle of Mana, water from the rock, and divine victory over Amalek. That generation of the wilderness wondering, with daily presence of the Lord and access to His divine council, and still the lust for power, selfishness, and greed, gave birth to rebellion against God’s anointed ones. The result was horrible. The whole 250 leaders of Israel that joined Korah and his gang, were burned and their tents and property and their family all paid the high price. Their case became a sign and an example that we all have to learn from and watch for – because such rebellions can happen and do happen even today, but the divine fire is slow to come today because we don’t have a temple or priests or Levites who are actually serving in the presence of the Lord like in those days in the wilderness of Sinai.
I have special prayer request. It is private, but Marcia and I do need divine intervention now. One of our suitcases was lost in ORD Chicago airport. We delivered it to the American Airline attendant to recheck it for a flight to Nashville, all our luggage arrived but one suitcase that had the more important things that we need. It is lost already five days, and the airline has no clue where is this suitcase or what happened to it. We can of course live without this suitcase, and all the important things that we like and love that are inside, but we are asking you to join us in prayer to find this suitcase.
I also ask you to pray for Netivyah in the United States. We will have a meeting this week-end and we need God’s grace and guidance to all who will be in this meeting. We need to make our vision and direction and challenges known to our brothers and sisters and we need the LORD’s guidance for the future of Netivyah in Israel and in the USA. It was such a joy to be in Finland and see the next generation of leaders in place, and functioning even better than their parents did in their youth. We, the older generation of leaders, are all so happy and so satisfied that the Lord and His presence will increase and strengthen and protect the young leadership in Finland, in Israel, in Brazil, and in the United States. I don’t want to forget the young leadership in Japan too. They are few in number but strong in resolve and hope and love for God and for Japan and for Israel. I believe and pray that the Lord will give a special dispensation for the young leadership in Japan to find both peace, and cooperation for both the older generation and the younger still generation. Pray with me for this special prayer request of leadership with divine anointing and with wonderful human character and deep faith. My dear brothers the same request is for the young leadership of Netivyah and the Roeh Israel Congregation in Jerusalem. Everything that I said about Finland, Japan, USA, and Brazil, is doubly true for the leadership in Jerusalem. All of us need your prayer and your support spiritually and physically to give a greater future than our wonderful past, a greater hope, and greater gifts of the Holy Spirit than in my generation.
Night and day our spirit is seeking the closeness of the LORD and His presence in our life. We make mistakes and some of them can’t be fixed in this life. We place ourselves in the hands of the Lord, always trusting in His mercy and grace, and ready like Moses to receive the LORD’s judgment in love. We all must pray for ourselves and for our witness and weakness and beg the LORD to be close to us and enable, inspire, equip, enable, and empower us to do His work here in this world. We pray for the Lord to deal with our enemies and those who lampoon Yeshua and HIS great love and sacrifice.
Pray for the ill and sick that you know and for those whom we know and are listed below.
A special request for healing comes from Jerusalem and from Netivyah for our dear sister Nancy H., who underwent surgery on Tuesday and a lump was taken from her body. We all need to pray that this will be discovered to be benign and not cancerous.
Our dear sister Salme, in Finland, has gone through surgery last week and her pacemaker was repositioned and tuned like a fine violin now. She is at home and happy to have this procedure done successfully. Please be thankful for Salme our dear sister, pray also for Keijo her husband who is one of the pillars of the Lord’s Body in Finland.
The events in Syria and in the other Arab countries around us – are a major tragedy and we all need to pray for the LORD HIMSELF to intervene and stop the carnage that all the sides are perpetrating against innocent civilians, women and children, old and young.
We ask you to pray for the Christian martyrs in Syria and Iraq and Egypt who are being killed by both Shiite Muslims and Sunny Muslims, by both Russian and Syrian airplanes who come to bomb indiscriminately.
Don’t forget to pray for Miriam Sh., who is still in the hospital suffering from cancer that is not operable right now. She will be moved to another hospital that gives hospice help. Only God’s healing power can help and save Miriam.
Please continue to pray for my family, Marcia my wife, Danah our daughter and Noaam our granddaughter and Barry our son, Joey our grandson, Beth our daughter-in-law, and for Marcia’s family in East Tennessee.
The LORD willing, Next week we will all gather in Nashville and I ask you to pray for all of us in the Shulam family and for the friends and brothers who will also join us and enjoy the Lipscomb University Summer Celebration. I shall be teaching a class on Romans 9-11, and I promise that it will be challenging and different from what protestant tradition inherited from Rome has been teaching on these important chapters and on Israel and the Jewish people. This class will be an antidote against anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli falsehoods that have been spread and covered the ground of Christian dogmatism for many centuries. Keep me in your prayers.
Pray for Efraim’s family – his beloved mother for whom we have been praying sister Askele, has gone to be with the Lord.
Please don’t forget to pray specially pray for Ynon –the baby and his family.
Kari A., is feeling better, and playing his saw. He got results after his surgery and test and he does not have to have Chemo-Therapy. This is wonderful news, but please keep Kari in your prayers.
In Finland, we have these dear souls who need God’s healing and strength: Anne-Mirjami, Anna-Majia, Satu-Maria and her daughters, Tim Tucker, Erki and Sirpa.
Our own dear Finnish sisters in the Roeh Israel Congregation, Leah K., Ahuva B., Ilana H. Other members of our congregation who need God’s healing and grace: David S., Sarit, Miriam, Hannah, Greg, Yuri M. Please don’t forget Daniel P., who is also in the hospital for rehabilitation after a serious motorcycle accident.
Pray for brothers and sisters in the USA that need your prayers for healing: Emmet, Bobby, Ruby is now especially in need of healing and encouragement from the Lord, John M. Aaron H., John M., Liz Johnson. In Holland, we ask for a special prayer for Tineke who is fighting cancer and needs our sincere and intense prayer for healing.
Brothers and sisters in Brazil that need healing: Paulo, Naomi, Clara, Evelyn and Marcelo’s father and especially his mother. I ask for a special prayer for our sister congregation in Curitiba who is also in need of healing among the leaders and inspiration for the leaders to continue leading with hands of grace, patience, and humility to keep things going peacefully and growing.
In Japan, we have the following brothers and sisters that need your prayers for healing: Pra. Curita, Toru, Tomoko San, Sadako San, Takeo Sensei, and Daisuke Sensei, and Sister Yumi’s husband.
The list of brothers and sisters who need strength and blessing in their homes and in their business, is also important to pray for: The Goh family, and especially Raymond are doing much better now and Raymond especially need divine wisdom and help from heaven to do what the Lord has given him to do for his family for his company and above all for the Kingdom of God.
Pray for Sister Christy, Sister Laurel, and for Brother Michael Kenzevic, and Daniel L., all need success and prosperity in their life and work. Pray for a dear brother in Finland by the name of David. Pray that the Lord will provide for David H., an excellent job that will honor his gifting and his family.
Pray for Roger, a dear brother who stands with so many good works and with Netivyah. He needs wisdom and peace and success in his work and life.
Keep Marcia and me in your prayers for health and strength in this traveling in the summer.
Joseph and Marcia Shulam