Korach, June 24, 2017 - Sivan 30, 5777
Torah: Numbers 16:1-18:32
Haftarah: 1 Samuel 11:14-12:22
Brit Chadashah (New Testament): Romans 13:1-7
Spiritual Authority: How Do We Relate to It?
Spiritual authority—that's a term with a lot of emotional charge to it. In the last few years there have been many examples of abuse of spiritual authority. Spiritual leaders would sometimes insist on absolute obedience using this rationale—"The L-rd selected me as His representative and has given me the vision. All He expects you to do is follow the vision that He has given me."
Satan has often used this abusive authority to drive believers into spiritual twilight. We tend to identify the L-rd with His representatives (spiritual leaders). When they abuse us, we often blame the L-rd. There is another extreme to avoid in this area—flea picking. In other words, we take a magnifying glass and look at the blemishes in an individual leader and then refuse to follow.
It is right to expect a godly example from a spiritual leader, yet that is not the only issue. We follow a particular leader because G-d has selected him and put a special anointing of the Spirit upon him. We do not follow a human leader blindly, but we may not despise and fight him when we feel that he is missing the mark. If we have been given authority by the L-rd as fellow leaders, then we have the responsibility to work towards change. Otherwise, we need to depend on the L-rd, The (one and only) Righteous Judge to correct the situation. He is the One who raised up the leader; He may choose to bring him down.
That is the message of this Torah portion. Moses and Aaron were by no means perfect—Aaron shared a major portion of the blame for the golden calf incident; Moses killed the Egyptian. Yet, they were chosen by G-d to lead Israel and whoever came to oppose them was really opposing G-d! Moses tried to explain that to the rebels, "It is against the L-rd that you and all your followers have banded together," (Numbers 16:11). Korach and his buddies precipitated a rebellion because they wanted to have the power and prestige of Moses and Aaron. The L-rd responded with a one-two punch to show that Moses was right—first an earthquake, then a fire (16:31, 35).
The Haftarah portion paints a glowing picture of Saul when he was in submission to the L-rd. (I Samuel: 11-12), but later on, he got off track. Yet despite that, he remained "the L-rd's anointed," the man filling the place of authority given by G-d. As we follow David's response to Saul we find a good model for us—supporting a leader because of G-d's call (to the office) while being discerning of both the strengths and weaknesses of that leader.