The Torah portion of Korah presents a very clear example of the requirements for divine order and the way YHVH deals with its violation. YHVH chose Aaron from the tribe of Levi, and his immediate family, to be the legal or official chosen priesthood of Israel. At the same time, YHVH gave to Aaron and his sons the rest of the Levites to serve them in their official duties. However, these Levites were not vested with the authority to minister as priests in the Mishkan (or later, in the Temple). Hence, violations of the divine order could result in fatalities. Previous to Korah’s rebellion, even the two sons of Aaron lost their lives because they did not follow the protocol.
Korah and sons, who like Aaron was of the Kohath family, were entrusted with the high calling of carrying the holy articles when traveling through the desert (Num. 4:15; 10:21). But Korah was not satisfied with his YHVH-given functions. Stationed from time to time close to the holy articles, he and his cohorts may have been thinking more highly of themselves than they should have (cf. Romans 12:3). They compared themselves with themselves (see 2nd Cor. 10:12) and claimed that they were as holy and as qualified to be in the ministry as were Moses and Aaron.
Pride and self-righteousness are the two attributes of Sin that are at the root of the greatest deception. These two opened the door to envy and jealousy, which in turn tricked their recipients, Korah, and his associates, into having false notions and beliefs, and thus felt justified in their desire for taking on a role that YHVH had not given them.
Unfortunately, the rebellious Korah convinced many others to take up his idea. So, while assuming a position of a higher calling, his followers were not sufficiently knowledgeable about the procedures, statutes, laws, and ordinances that accompanied the priesthood and their sacred duties. Moses and Aaron knew very well what the consequences of the rebellion would be, so they fell on their faces before YHVH, to intercede for mercy. But when Moses realized that these individuals were determined to get their way, he charged them, almost sinisterly, to take fire from the brazen altar, knowing full well what the consequence would be. Had they known better, they would have had to first present the appropriate burnt offering, as its ashes were to be mixed with the fire and only then taken into the holy place. But as it happened, they believed that scooping some ashes from the bronze altar and carrying them to the incense altar in the holy place was sufficient for producing a sweet fragrance before YHVH. Their arrogant, presumptuous, and self-serving actions brought about their demise in an instant.
Presumptuousness that is common in our day is seen in prayer life. With our material world being shaken, we offer up the kind of prayers that are described by James: “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures” (James 4:3). It seems that the 'thing' (the in-thing) today is to organize certain types of worldwide prayer meetings through social media and ask Elohim to respond according to our corporate will. What if YHVH only accepted the prayers from the ashes of those who have given themselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him? Before joining others in a prayer venture, shouldn’t we examine our hearts to see what is our true motive for these prayers? Is it YHVH’s will, or is it my, or our will that is to be done?
Interestingly, Korah and family did not participate with the 250 in the test of the fire pans/censers. The Almighty chose to deal with this family in another way. You have heard us mention in the past Rabbi David Fohrman of Aleph-Beta. Fohrman points out that because of Korah’s claim to holiness, comparable to the Mishkan’s holy articles that had to be covered before each journey (so as not to be seen by the carriers, Num. chapter 4), Korah too, thinking himself holy, had to be covered. The earth, therefore, opened up and swallowed him and members of his family, covering them with desert sand.
In today’s religious expressions toward a Holy Elohim, there are quite a few false assumptions that infringe on His holiness which are not so different from Korah's. As believers in the redemptive work that our Heavenly Father accomplished through Messiah Yeshua, and having been reconciled and restored we are now able to call Him “Abba” and embrace His unconditional love. Being a loving Father, He has given us a family that is to grow together into His image and likeness by the same love - expressing it in behavior that can be seen (testified to) in the realm of spiritual darkness (see Eph. 3:10). But as mentioned above in the example of Korah, there are divine laws and order in this redeemed family. The pure love with which He loves us is to bind us to each other, rather than impure common causes motivated by pride and ambition that lead to a path of deception culminating in ruin.
Thus, we must pay close attention to all that has been spoken in the scriptures so that we do not participate in the evil deeds of darkness, leading to rebellion and usurping or undermining YHVH's chosen authorities, and violating His protocols when coming before Him in worship, prayer, and intercession. Yeshua exhorts us in Matthew 5:23-24, with the following words: "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift".
YHVH's protocol for us is further delineated in the following Hebrews scripture:
" Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:22-25).