Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 6, 1967
NUMBER 34, PAGE 2c-3a

From "Evenings With The Bible"

Isaac Errett

Envy And Jealousy

"Korah, the leader of the rebellion here described, was the son of Izhar who was the brother of A mram, the father of Moses and Aaron (Exodus 6:18); so that Korah was the cousin of the men whom he envied, and whose authority he sought to overthrow. He belonged, therefore, to the tribe of Levi. He was one of those men who are ever complaining that they are not appreciated, and who, from their unhappy spirit, fail to reach the position to which they aspire. This unhappy spirit led these men to work secretly among the chief men of the other tribes until "two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown", joined them in a conspiracy to overthrow the authority of Moses and Aaron. But it did not suit to avow their real intention. Probably the two hundred were not aware of the real motives of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. The avowed purpose was to divide the honors of the priesthood and leadership among all the people (verse 3)- "the dear people" was the honeyed phrase of demagogues then as it is now - but the real purpose was to break down the authority of Moses and Aaron, that Korah and his family might obtain the priesthood...

"At this distance, how contemptible appears this strife for distinction which could last but for a few fleeting years! Yet the same strife goes onto-day for place and power, even in the ranks of spiritual Israel. Nay, it revealed itself even in the band of apostles who had "left all" for Christ. Their harmony was more than once disturbed by the question, "Who shall be greatest?" and the more saintly of them ventured out to the border of intrigue to secure for themselves the chief places in the kingdom. (Matt. 20:20- 24). The corruptions of the gospel, culminating in the great Apostasy, were largely owing to this lust of place and power. In the bud it was men like Diotrephes (3 John) "who loved to have the preeminence," and who "prated" even against the beloved apostle John, "with malicious words" as Korah and his associates prated against Moses and Aaron, and "lorded it over God's heritage". In the blossom, it ruled in cities aspiring to "diocesan" authority and then mounting, when it was possible to "metropolitan" power. In its full formed fruit, it was popery. In its ripeness, it is the infallibility of the Pope,

"And there are a great many little popes, even where there is so-called congregational government. Not only are envyings and jealousies frequently found among preachers, and still more notably among singers; but in churches, among rival members, and in neighborhoods among rival families, the everlasting question "who shall be greatest?" produces constant agitation and perpetual mischief. Peter therefore found it necessary to exhort all young disciples to "put away all envies and all evil speaking", knowing how almost universal was the tendency to this evil spirit. Let anyone become at all conspicuous as an orator, or a writer, or a leader in good works in a church or a neighborhood, and directly envious tongues are wagging against him - always, of course, under some pious pretense, but really in answer to the question propounded and answered affirmatively in their own envious hearts, "Hath not the Lord spoken by us also"? One such envious, artful man as Korah could set all Israel aflame by his insinuations, flatteries and apparent zeal for the rights of others; and one such envious spirit in a church or neighborhood can spread the bitterness of strife through a whole community, and blast the influence of a hundred faithful Christians. No one who has read the divine call of Moses and Aaron, can believe that Korah was sincere in his pretense that they were usurping authority. It was a hypocritical pretense-the artful effort of a demagogue, under cover of zeal for the rights of "the dear people" to advance his own interests and gratify his own ambition. And a similar mean selfishness will be found at the base of many of the disgraceful strifes that rend churches and block the progress of the gospel.

"It is one of the discouraging things in the earnest and honest efforts of self sacrificing Christians, that they must be assaulted by envy and jealousy. Even Paul, at Corinth, had his own spiritual children turned against him by envious and malignant spirits, and his most benevolent deeds tortured into evidence of a mean ambition and selfish purpose. Our blessed Lord roused against himself the hate and rage of the rulers in Jerusalem, because they envied his growing power among the people. Every one who would truly serve his fellows must run the gauntlet of jealous spirits and envious tongues. Very often, death must come, and generations succeed, before good men are understood and appreciated; and then reparation is sought to be made by building monuments in their honor by those who are ready to repeat the same wrong to the worthy of their own generation (Matt. 23:29-30).

"When we come to analyze these passions, there is found at their base the lowest and vilest grade of selfishness-a selfishness that tolerates nothing superior to itself, and which, once allowed to dominate, will put at defiance the laws of God and men to gratify its unhallowed purposes. This is clearly illustrated in the case of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.

"If any finds himself possessed of these demons, he should never cease his humiliation and supplication before God until, however the exorcism, they are cast out. We must learn to regard the rights of others; in honor to prefer one another; and to find our own joy in sympathizing with the success of others. How hard it is to say as John the Baptist said: "He must increase, but I must decrease - this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

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