This week’s Torah Portion is about a Levite who gathered a company of Israelites to contend against the Lord’s anointed, Moses and Aaron, in the wilderness. They pierced a God-given boundary and reaped dire consequences.
This rebellion is unique because the earth opened and swallowed up the rebellious congregation, their tents, and their families. They went into the pit alive, it says in Scripture (Num 16.33). What was their grave sin? It was pride. The piercing serpent described in Isaiah 27:1 is a proud human. It is someone who does not take up the right amount of space, which is what it means to be humble.
Humility is one of the main goals of the Bible. To take up the space God carved out for you even before you were born is humility. You can take up too much space, like Korah, or too little space, like Jonah. Taking up the right amount of space is super-duper-hard.
What does it take to walk in humility before God and others? For one, it takes a strong identity. You need to understand your purpose in life. To be called by name means God has given you purpose. Names are important in the Bible. I am a PK (no, not a pig kicker, it means preacher’s kid), and all of my family’s names have Biblical meanings. Our most significant strengths/weaknesses are connected to our name because it is words spoken over us consistently throughout our lives and words are powerful.
Isaiah 43:1-2: But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.
It also takes contentment. Being thankful for your lot in life is so crucial in pursuing humility.
Philippians 4:11-12: I am not saying this because I am in need—for whatever circumstance I am in, I have learned to be content. I know what it is to live with humble means, and I know what it is to live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of contentment—both to be filled and to go hungry, to have abundance and to suffer need.
Humility requires fear of God. Recognizing that everything comes from God, trusting He is loving and just.
Proverbs 22:4: Humility is the fear of the Lord; its wages are riches, honor, and life.
To walk in humility takes courage. If someone else is not confident or secure in the space God has given them to exist, they could easily try to keep you from taking up space. It may feel like an act of rebellion not to diminish your light in the face of opposition.
The ultra-spiritual writers of Forbes (I kid) have a list of questions to ask ourselves to see if our ego/pride leads us like it did Korah.
Are we consistently envious of others?
Do we regularly feel a need to be right?
Do we have to win at all costs?
You are slow to seek input from others but quick to give your input.
Are we overly defensive?
Do we judge others’ motives and ideas unfavorably?
If we are honest with ourselves, these statements can feel uncomfortably familiar. It will be ok because recognizing our internal environments helps us to change them when needed. Korah did not fear God. Moses told him and the congregation of Israelites who joined in his rebellious mission, you are not coming against us but God who called us to take up this space.
Numbers 16:11: “Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the Lord. And what is Aaron that you complain against him?”
The congregation of Korah needed to be more content with their purpose. Their lack of contentment in their own purpose caused them to be envious of the high calling of Moses and Aaron, even though God gave them an extraordinary job of covering the holy things in the Tabernacle. One of Yeshua’s jobs is to cover us, the holy ones, with love, so this job was important. They could not recognize the beauty of their purpose, and it made them jealous of someone else’s space. The jealousy did not stay a personal matter for Korah, and he stirred up pride and envy in those around him. Korah went to a gang of leaders and said, “We are all holy!” This mob mentality can be evident in proud people when they consistently point out someone else’s faults to others.
Numbers 16:3: 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 the Lord is among them. Why, then, do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?”
Korah and his congregation blamed Moses and Aaron for keeping them from the promised land. The evil report given by the ten spies caused disbelief in the hearts of the Israelites. Their lack of faith kept them from the promised land; however, they projected their failures onto the leaders. Proud people evade personal responsibility.
Numbers 16:13: Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey (Egypt was the realm of sin and death, not a land of milk and honey-can we say false memory??), to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us?
Moses is said to have worn a robe of humility (Num 12.3). He could have shrunk when the congregation of Korah questioned his calling, and he could have allowed their insecurities to keep him from taking up the space God asked him to take up. Moses could have allowed the opinions of others to keep him from fulfilling his purpose. Thankfully, he didn’t. Humility is hard, but the more we practice putting the needs of others first, caring about what God thinks instead of what people think, and being courageous enough to walk out our purpose, we can avoid the fate of Korah and his congregation.
The number one thing we can do not to be a “piercing serpent,” piercing boundaries God has instituted, is to honor others.
Luke 14:11: All those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
I don’t think there is more de-exaltation than being cast down into the earth. Korah and his gang were exalting themselves in pride, and God brought them low, lower than the ground. He brought them down into a pit. No bueno.
Ephesians 4:2: Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.