December 15, 2015 Year C
People care for their community. Parents care for their children. Coaches care for their team. Military leaders care for their men and women who serve under them. Employers care for their employees. Name a group and you will find someone who leads them. In some form or fashion, the leader will care for the community entrusted to them.
Three people show their care for the community in these verses. The first two are the human leaders of the Israelite community. God tells these leaders that He wants the leaders to be separated so that God can destroy the community (Numbers 16:20). At first this sounds harsh until you find out why (Numbers 16:23). Three people in the community are sinning against God and the community. They are wicked (Numbers 16:26) because they were rebelling against God’s leadership whom He placed over the people (Numbers 16:3, Numbers 16:12-14). God punishes the three men by opening up th earth and swallowing the men (Numbers 16:32) – the men, their families, and their possessions. The 250 men who followed the example of these rebels were also killed (Numbers 16:35).
That sounds so strange. Why would God kill people who were just not wanting to follow Moses‘ leadership. What if these men had a point about their perceived problem?We don’t know the full story except to know that these men were rebelling against Moses because he followed God’s instruction (Numbers 16:10). The crux of their evil is the desire for more than what God had given them. These men personalized the attack (Numbers 16:11) against the leadership. The fact is that these men would rebel again, given the chance.
God shows us that caring for the community requires unity at all costs. The needs of the many outweigh the desires of the few.
The greed of one or two people are not worth destroying the holy community. The spirit of that rebellion had spread to 250 people (and perhaps their families). It would not take longer for this rebellion to continue and eventually destroy the work of God in the people’s midst.
The same is true with us today. Sometimes, leaders have to take drastic action to care for the community. A few individuals will cry and complain. Yet, God wants us to reach our destination as a community of faith, a family of God. Caring for the community is the only way to get there.
Prayer: Help me and teach me to continue to care for my community You have placed under my care – even when it is tough.