March 15: The Power Struggle

Numbers 16:1–50; John 21:1–25; Psalm 17:1–15

Every leader faces power struggles—from those who follow the leader and from those the leader follows. If there isn’t some sort of struggle, the leader probably isn’t doing his or her job well. It’s simple: those who make everyone happy probably aren’t pushing people to be better, and pushing will—at times—frustrate both the leaders and the followers.

Moses regularly experienced leadership struggles. In Numbers 16, Korah—accompanied by 250 men who were leaders in Israel—calls Moses and Aaron’s leadership into question, saying, “You take too much upon yourselves! All of the community is holy, every one of them, and Yahweh is in their midst, so why do you raise yourselves over the assembly of Yahweh?” (Num 16:3). They’re using Moses’ words, spoken on behalf of Yahweh, against him here: “you will belong to me as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exod 19:6). But they made one faulty assumption in doing so. Yahweh had prefaced these words by saying, “if you will carefully listen to my voice and keep my covenant, you will be a treasured possession for me out of all the peoples, for all the earth is mine, but …” and then He continued with the line Korah quoted (Exod 19:5–6).

Surely Moses knows this, and he is well aware of their folly. But rather than answering the fool according to his folly, he responds by prostrating himself—an act of worship toward God and humility toward those he serves: the people of Israel. He then says, “Tomorrow morning Yahweh will make known who is his and who is holy, and he will bring him near to him, whomever he chooses he will bring near to him” (Num 16:5). It appears that in that moment of prostration, Moses prayed and was immediately given an answer. He insists on bringing the matter before God Himself.

Moses could have defended himself by insisting upon the special nature by which God had revealed Himself to him. Or he could have noted to Korah that he is only out of Egypt—and thus able to call Moses into question—because Moses was obedient to God. He even could have noted that Korah was only in leadership at all because Moses listened to God and appointed him. But instead, he insisted on bringing it before God. He did, though, follow up by telling Korah that he had plenty of authority and shouldn’t be so greedy (Num 16:8–11).

This event demonstrates the kind of faith that we should all have in what God asks us to do.

How do you respond when people question what God has asked you to do? How can your response in the future be more like Moses’?

John D. Barry[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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