In the opening chapter of his letter to the Galatians Paul writes of his astonishment “that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.” [Ch.1 v.6]. 

He goes on to say that “if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received let him be accursed” [v.9].  He says further, “the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel … I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ” [v.11,12]. 

Why were people trying to change it?   In the 2nd chapter he writes of “false brothers secretly brought in – who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery” [v.4]. 

He means slavery to keep the law with its priesthood system and rules like keeping the Sabbath, circumcision and tithing, they wanted this to be observed by every Gentile convert.  This would have corrupted the gospel and destroyed what Christ died to achieve.

Now we noted that Paul was astonished that this was happening so soon – and we are similarly astonished in our reading in Numbers today that Moses very soon has a fresh problem with the people.  This time it is not among the tribes; the bad report of the 10 spies had been dealt with.  

This time it is among the Levites; the priests. 

Korah, Dathan and Abiram challenge Moses and Aaron saying, “Why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?” [16 v3]  Moses responds, “Is it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do service in the tabernacle?”   [v.9] 

All too often the desire for pride of place is the root cause of problems, so, despite all the evidence of the divine presence, this folly is committed and they are destroyed because of it. It reminded us of the proverb we read yesterday, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” [11 v.2]  Let us in humility make sure we believe and teach the same gospel as Paul and are not guilty of “turning to a different gospel” as it seems some must be – or there would only be one church.

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