~November 4, 2013~

Lessons from the Past

Korah and the 250 Princes

by Richard Myers

"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the congregation, saying, Get you up from about the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.  And Moses rose up and went unto Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him.  And he spake unto the congregation, saying, Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest ye be consumed in all their sins.  So they gat up from the tabernacle of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, on every side: and Dathan and Abiram came out, and stood in the door of their tents, and their wives, and their sons, and their little children.  And Moses said, Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works; for I have not done them of mine own mind.  If these men die the common death of all men, or if they be visited after the visitation of all men; then the LORD hath not sent me.  But if the LORD make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down quick into the pit; then ye shall understand that these men have provoked the LORD.  And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:  And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.

They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among thecongregation. And all Israel that were round about them fled at the cry of them: for they said, “Lest the earth swallow us up also.  And there came out a fire from the LORD, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men that offered incense."  Numbers 16:23-35.

There is in this Scripture a lesson for us who live today "upon whom the ends of the world have come."  Do not the same evils still exist that lay at the foundation of Korah's ruin?
It would not be nearly so evil if those who are seeking for the supremacy do not lead multitudes of others in the path of wrong, but they do.
Pride and ambition are widespread; and when these are cherished, they open the door to envy, and a striving for supremacy and the soul is alienated from God. While endeavoring to destroy the confidence of the people in the men of God's appointment, they really believe they are serving God. Such a deception!

It would not be nearly so evil if those who are seeking for the supremacy do not lead multitudes of others in the path of wrong, but they do. It was not just Korah, Dathan, and Abiram that were in the wrong. Most of Israel had been led astray. Moses "pleaded that the wrath of God might not utterly destroy the people of His choice. By his intercession he stayed the arm of vengeance, that a full end might not be made of disobedient, rebellious  Israel." 1  The influence of the rebels extends in the same manner today. Those who are leaders in apostasy are causing many to join in the rebellion against God and His church. Many have no power to resist those who are vested with great position and power. An example is seen when the leader of the rebellion voted with his General Conference colleagues in reproving the rebellion when a number of conferences voted to ordain women pastors.2   In that case his yielding spirit was on the right side, but in the North American Division year end meeting which he chairs, he sided with his influential NAD colleagues in direct support of the rebellion. The NAD is recognizing the illegal Southeastern California election of an "ordained" woman conference president. They have seated the woman and will allow her to vote.3

Satan has his goals set way in advance of what we can see. He bends and aims his bow, and lets his arrows fly at those who have been given great light and responsibilities in God's work. It was Moses whom Satan was attempting to murder in the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.  
     "It is hardly possible for men to offer greater insult to God than to despise and reject the instrumentalities He would use for their salvation. The Israelites had not only done this, but had purposed to put both Moses and Aaron to death. Yet they did not realize the necessity of seeking pardon of God for their grievous sin. That night of probation was not passed in repentance and confession, but in devising some way to resist the evidences which showed them to be the greatest of sinners. They still cherished hatred of the men of God's appointment, and braced themselves to resist their authority. Satan was at hand to pervert their judgment and lead them blindfold to  destruction." 4 
So it is today. Who is it that has targets painted on his forehead, chest, and back? The one who is standing on Bible truth. The one who is despised by the rebellious. In response to the
Southeastern California Conference ordaining and electing a woman president, the General Conference executive officers issued a statement, Moving Forward Together, explaining how God has designed a church structure so there can be unity amid our great diversity.5 
A Southeastern California pastor took exception with the statement, writing an open letter addressed to the General Conference officers. "I guess the GC working policy and/or Executive Officers are 'God' in this case? Certainly the way you are acting leads me to believe you view yourselves in this way. You are determining who is led by the Holy Spirit. You are deciding who is sanctified. You are deciding who needs to submit and how."

The General Conference being led by Elder Wilson has been very careful in following the Bible and church law. This is a statement issued by the world Church that expressed their actions.
     "Decisions to pursue a course of action not in harmony with the 1990 and 1995 General Conference Session decisions (with respect to ministerial ordination) represent not only an expression of dissent but also a demonstration of self-determination in a matter previously decided by the collective Church. The General Conference Executive Committee regards these actions as serious mistakes.
The world Church cannot legitimize practices that clearly contradict the intent of General Conference Session
They directly challenge two world Church decisions on the matter of ordination. They create doubts about the importance of collective decision-making as a basic feature of denominational life. They weaken the fabric of Church life and operations by giving opportunity for other entities to follow this example in order to justify independence and autonomy in other matters rather than maintaining a mutual commitment to collective decision-making.
      "The world Church cannot legitimize practices that clearly contradict the intent of General Conference Session actions. This applies to ordination decisions as well as to other matters in which a local organization may feel constrained not just to voice its disagreement with the world Church but to precede along a pathway that directly conflicts with the expressed will of the worldwide Church. Accordingly, the world Church does not recognize actions authorizing or implementing ministerial ordination without regard to gender."7
The rebelling conferences and divisions are acting contrary to the world Church, their constitutions, and Scripture. They are not being led by the Holy Spirit. Some of these church leaders and laity are aiming their arrows at Elder Wilson and the leadership of the World Church, those who are faithful and true and standing on Bible truth. The unfaltering servants of God have usually suffered the bitterest persecution from false teachers of religion. God's Eye is upon His instruments of divine reproof, and they bear a heavy responsibility. But God regards the injury done to them through misrepresentation, falsehood, or abuse as though it were done unto Himself, and will punish accordingly.

Those who serve under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel are expected to do difficult work that will tax every power God has given them. They will have painful trials to endure for Christ’s sake. They will have conflicts that rend the soul, but if they are faithful soldiers they will say with Paul,
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
      "An army would be demoralized if it did not learn to obey the orders of the captain. Each soldier must act in concert. Union is strength; without union, efforts are meaningless. Whatever excellent qualities soldiers may possess, they cannot be safe, trustworthy soldiers if they claim a right to act independently of their comrades. This independent action cannot be maintained in the service of Christ. . .
      "Those who prefer to act alone are not good soldiers; they  have  some crookedness in their character that needs to be straightened. They may think themselves conscientious, but they do not the works of Christ. They cannot render efficient service. Their work will be of a character to draw apart when Christ’s prayer was that His disciples might be one as He was one with the

When the Southeastern California Conference assembled their constituency to elect conference officers, there had been a woman nominated for conference president. Ricardo Graham, the Pacific Union President, addressed the meeting with a message from General Conference President, Elder Ted Wilson, warning that if a woman were elected president, it would put the conference and the union in direct conflict with the General Conference. "Graham hastened to add that the nominating committee had followed conference and union by-laws 'to a T' (bringing strong applause) and that any potential conflict would only be between the union and the General Conference. He conveyed that voting for a woman as president would not be a problem from a conference or union policy standpoint and referenced union action concerning the North American Division’s E-60  

Ricardo Graham and the Pacific Union Conference had already joined the rebellion, when at their special constituency meeting in 2012, they voted to ordain women pastors. But, the PUC president erred in his statement to the SECC constituency. At that Pacific Union Constituency meeting they attempted to change their union bylaws so they would not have to follow the General Conference rules. When the vote was taken, it
failed.10 Therefore, when the SECC voted to elect a woman conference president, they violated the Pacific Union bylaws, the North American Division Constitution, and the General Conference Constitution, even though Ricardo Graham told them they were not. Many involved in the rebellion claim God is leading them. As with Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, they seek positions which God has not entrusted to them. When reproved, they cast contempt upon God's chosen leaders.

      "While some under correction will acknowledge that they have been an injury to the cause, there are others who will charge with having an unkind spirit the one who has manifested true friendship by pointing out their wrongs, and will either be impudent or disrespectful to the reprover or will put on the disguise of injured innocence. This martyr-like appearance is a specious hypocrisy and is calculated to deceive those who are easily blinded, who are always ready to sympathize with the wrongdoer. . . . [Korah, Dathan, and Abiram] complained and influenced the people to stand with them in rebellion, and even after God stretched forth His hand and swallowed up the wrongdoers and the people fled to their tents in horror, their rebellion was not  

Rebellion is often impossible to cure.
"Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." Ecclesiastes 8:11. The leaders in the rebellion are in great danger of being determined to continue their course no matter what, just as Korah and the 250 princes refused to repent and were destroyed.

      "Shall the example presented in the history of the children of Israel have any weight with us? Shall those who claim to believe the truth be influenced to judge from their human feelings as did Israel? When the servants of God are called upon to do the disagreeable duty of correcting the erring, let not those upon whom the Lord has not laid this burden stand between the offender and God. If you cannot see matters in the light in which they have been presented, hold your peace; let the arrows of the Almighty fall just where He has directed they shall fall. . . But we may still rejoice in the fact that it is not yet too late for wrongs to be righted. Jesus is a risen, living Saviour, our Advocate in the courts of heaven.
'And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.' As soon as sinners see their sins in the light of God’s Word, repent, and seek pardon with contrition of soul, confessing their sins, the Lord hears and answers."12 

Not all who have rebelled against God's chosen have gone down to perdition. Some, when seeing their error have turned and become a blessing to the work of God. One such example is the apostle Paul who wrote most of the New Testament. So, we can take from the lessons of the past that which will warn and bless. It is left with us whom we shall serve.

Revival and reformation will succeed. Not all will accept the righteousness of Christ and walk in the light of Bible truth. Love of self, pride and self-sufficiency lie at the foundation of the greatest trials and discords that have ever existed in the religious world.  We must "press together" and be of one mind, of one judgment. Christ is our Leader and we will follow Him.  We will walk in the light as He is in the light.  Those who walk in the footsteps of Christ shall not walk in darkness, but those who draw apart in unsanctified independence cannot have God's presence and blessing in the work. Men are wanted who feel their need of wisdom from above, men who are converted at heart, who understand that they are but sinful mortals and must learn their lessons in the school of Christ before they are prepared to mold other minds.

Soon great troubles will arise among the nations, trouble that will not cease until Jesus comes. As never before we need to press together, serving Him who has prepared His throne in the heavens and whose kingdom ruleth over all. God has not forsaken His people, and our strength lies in not forsaking Him. God's glory will be poured out upon His church, a people that press together and keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. 

1. Ellen White; Patriarchs and Prophets 402
2. Daniel Jackson voted against rebellion. "In the light of this current study and the actions of several unions, General Conference officers, including presidents of the 13 world divisions, have unanimously communicated an appeal for unity in respect to ministerial ordination practices."  Appeal for Unity; June 29, 2012
3. David Olson; PEBlogger; Sandra Roberts will be recognized by Adventist body, 10/31/13
4. Ellen White; Patriarchs and Prophets 402
5. GC response to SECC election of woman conference president, Moving Forward; 10/31/13. Moving Forward Together
6. SECC youth pastor says GC officers acting as "God." Spectrum; 11/1/13. SECC Youth Pastor Responds to GC
7. General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists 2012  Annual Council “Statement on Church Polity, Procedures and Resolution of Disagreements in the Light of Recent Union Actions on Ministerial Ordination.”  10/16/12
8. Ellen White; Letter 62, 1886.
9. Jared Wright; Spectrum; Sandra Roberts Becomes First Woman President. Ricardo Graham - "the nominating committee had followed conference and union by-laws."10/27/13
10. Special Session of the Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. Vote to change bylaws failed. 8/19/12
11. Ellen White; CTr 125
12. Ellen White; Letter 12a, 1893
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