Following Up on Numbers 16
I’ve had a day to process the turbulence of emotion that accompanied my reading of the Rebellion of Korah story in Numbers 16. Having done so, I think I realize a couple of important things I can learn from this story, and from my reaction to it. Before yesterday, I had never in my life shed a tear over the Bible. I have read it, and I have prayed for wisdom over it. And during my whole life I have tried my darndest to live by the principles it teaches. But yesterday, the Bible jarred me. In reading it, I pushed past the facade of seeing it as a text that can teach me things about God and about how to live “biblically” (as if there is any one way to do that!). I also pushed passed the religion-influenced need I’ve always felt to search it for meaningfulness, and figure out what on earth it has to do with my life. Instead I read the Scripture with a deep desire to KNOW God. Not in the intellectual way that is safe and easy and seems “Christian”, but rather in the spiritual way, in the way that leaves my heart open and frighteningly vulnerable. So when I read this passage with that approach, with the walls that I have built around spirituality lowered tentatively to the ground, Numbers 16 seared me and penetrated my heart more deeply than any passage of the Bible ever has before.
I know God is good. I still don’t know what on earth to do with Numbers 16, or how it ought to fit within the larger narrative of God’s love for me, but I know God is good. So, now that I’ve had a chance to settle down and quit freaking out over that story, I’m going to go back to the Bible. And I’m going to read about all the reasons I know in the depths of my heart why Yahweh, Jehovah, Abba, God, whichever beautiful name you choose to give him, is and always will be the Lord of my life, Numbers 16 notwithstanding.
That doesn’t mean I’m done asking questions and letting passages like Numbers 16 create dissonance in me. It just means I can accept how small I am, how little I know, how much more there could be to the rebellion of Korah than I could possibly understand. It means that I can trust that God is Love, and that any way that He moves among us human beings is a reflection of that love, even if it doesn’t seem that way in the Bible (which, again, could be for a multitude of reasons).
I think this passage from Job is quite relevant:
Then the Lord answered Job from the whirlwind:
Get ready for a difficult task like a man.
I will question you and you will inform me!
Would you indeed annul my justice?
Would you declare me guilty so that you might be right?
Do you have an arm as powerful as God’s,
and can you thunder with a voice like his?
Adorn yourself, then, with majesty and excellency,
and clothe yourself with glory and honor!
Scatter abroad the abundance of your anger.
Look at every proud man and bring him low;
Look at every proud man and abase him;
crush the wicked on the spot!
Hide them in the dust together,
imprison them in the grave.
Then I myself will acknowledge to you
that your own right hand can save you. Job 40:6-14