Developing the Theme of Family through the Torah Portions. Number Thirty-Eight.

Dr Clifford Denton.

Korach: Numbers 16:1- 18:32.

6th July 2024/30 Sivan.

Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds. (Numbers 17:8)

Picture by Helen McNeill

Two themes are central to our portion this week – authority and responsibility. With these in mind, it is important to read the portion carefully. Then we can consider the relevance to our families and to our believing communities.

The death of Korah, Dathan and Abiram with their entire families and possessions, and the thousands that died in the plague that followed, emphasises the importance that God gives to the maintenance of His appointed order. The miracle of the blossoming, budding and bearing of fruit on Aaron’s rod, was a constant reminder of God’s chosen order, and is profoundly significant for all time.

Today, we live in a world of power systems and pyramid structures. The world and its empires create ladders to the top, where people compete and strive for supremacy. The many elections going on in countries around the world just now, and the rumblings of imminent war are indicators of this. Weak governments are emerging, and the road is being paved to the antichrist era. It will be an era of control and not of servanthood. The world is moving ever further from God’s order. But what of the Christian Church?

We will do well to be careful to continue to consider both God’s order and our place in it.

There is a difference between the worldwide community of believers in our day and that which was at the time of Aaron and Moses. There is still a priesthood, but of a different kind, which consequently influences the authority structure of God’s people.

Nevertheless, God appoints whom He will for authority and responsibility, within the Priesthood of all believers (1 Peter 2:5). The priestly order is different, so it is necessary to beware of not being tempted to mirror either world systems or the Levitical system too closely. Those who seek a position of control at the head of a branch or ministry of the Church put themselves in a dangerous position and place those who are “under them” in a vulnerable position. The concept of “clergy and laity”, for example, that reflects the Roman Empire’s way of administration leads to a weak hierarchical Christian community. By contrast, the New Testament is full of God’s intended pattern where the body of believers is organic and interactive.

That does not diminish the responsibility of those personally called to areas of ministry within the body, but we need to remember that the word “ministry” means “service” and not status to control. We are a body which, through interaction of the various appointed ministries, is encouraged to grow to maturity (Ephesians 4:11-13). These ministries may be appointed by God for a season or even a lifetime, but also involve individual gifting when one or other person ministers in a certain way at a certain time (Titus 1:5-16, 1 Timothy 3:1-13, 1 Corinthians 12). God expects every believer to seek his or her personal appointment and responsibility, their place in the body, and learn how to be mature in that ministry, remaining true to their calling, not being ambitious for other than obeying God’s own appointment. This is why we must take seriously the rebellion that took place against Moses and Aaron in our portion this week.

Whilst there is a difference to the Priesthood compared with Moses’ day, there is still, nevertheless, a High Priest. God has appointed our High Priest, Yeshua HaMashiach, God’s own Son, as High Priest of the order of Melchizedek. To Him is given all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18). Beware of those who seek to usurp or downgrade His authority.

John spoke of the spirit of the antichrist (1 John 4:2), which manifests itself in many antichrists as well as the coming one world antichrist system (1 John 2:18). An antichrist is one who puts himself in place of the one anointed Messiah (Christ). John put it this way:

Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that theAntichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

It is so very important in the days of deception that are coming, that we recognise the order of God’s Kingdom and the deceptions that will arise to distort it. Anyone who stands between a believer and God the Father, through the Son, puts himself in the place of an intermediary to whom reference is made rather than the one High Priest, Yeshua HaMashiach. This not only leads to a weak body of believers but will contribute to a falling away of those who put their trust in man rather than God.

Within the order of God’s Kingdom, there is one institution at the foundation, namely family. Kingdom authority must be in the structure of a believing family just as Paul outlined in Ephesians 5. There is an authority structure where every believer participates according to calling in the body of believers as a whole, including eldership, pastors and teachers, but this must not override the authority of the home.

A pastor must not replace a husband as the reference point for authority in the family, nor the youth leader override the authority of parents. The gathering of believers is by families where authority and structure is to be upheld and strengthened. These may be strong statements, but there is enough evidence in the Christian church today that authority structures have become so eroded that they have imbibed worldly ways, even pyramid controlling structures.

The rebellion of Korah, and indeed the entire community in this week’s reading, warns us to take careful consideration of the authority structure among believers today. Our theme for this series of Torah commentaries is family, so it is no surprise that we end with the encouragement to strengthen the structure of our families within the believing community. This is indeed the very emphasis that is imperative for our day when the evil one (the spirit of the antichrist) is doing its utmost to undermine the family.