Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3


Korah, Dathan, and Abiram

By God's appointment these men had been entrusted with special honors. They had been of that number who, with the seventy elders, went up with Moses into the mount and beheld the glory of God. They saw the glorious light which covered the divine form of Christ. The bottom of this cloud was in appearance like the “paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness.” These men were in the presence of the glory of the Lord and did eat and drink without being destroyed by the purity and unsurpassed glory that was reflected upon them. But a change had come. A temptation, slight at first, had been harbored; and as it was encouraged it had strengthened until the imagination was controlled by the power of Satan. These men upon the most frivolous pretense ventured upon their work of disaffection. At first they hinted and expressed doubts, which took so readily with many minds that they ventured still further. And being more and more confirmed in their suspicions by a word from one and another, each expressing what he thought of certain things which had come under his notice, these deluded souls really came to believe that they had a zeal for the Lord in the matter and that they would not be excusable unless they carried out to the full their purpose of making Moses see and feel the preposterous position he occupied toward Israel. A little leaven of distrust and of dissension, envy, and jealousy was leavening the camp of Israel. 3T 343.3

Korah, Dathan, and Abiram first commenced their cruel work upon the men to whom God had entrusted sacred responsibilities. They were successful in alienating two hundred and fifty princes who were famous in the congregation, men of renown. With these strong and influential men on their side, they felt sure of making a radical change in the order of things. They thought they could transform the government of Israel and greatly improve it from its present administration. 3T 344.1

Korah was not satisfied with his position. He was connected with the service of the tabernacle, yet he desired to be exalted to the priesthood. God had established Moses as chief governor, and the priesthood was given to Aaron and his sons. Korah determined to compel Moses to change the order of things, that he might be raised to the dignity of the priesthood. To be more sure of accomplishing his purpose, he drew Dathan and Abiram, descendants of Reuben, into his rebellion. These reasoned that, being descendants of the eldest son of Jacob, the chief authority, which Moses usurped, belonged to them; and, with Korah, they were resolved to obtain the office of the priesthood. These three became very zealous in an evil work and influenced two hundred and fifty men of renown, who were also determined to have a share in the priesthood and the government, to join them. 3T 344.2

God had honored the Levites to do service in the tabernacle because they took no part in making and worshiping the golden calf and because of their faithfulness in executing the order of God upon the idolaters. To the Levites was also assigned the office of erecting the tabernacle and encamping around about it, while the hosts of Israel pitched their tents at a distance from it. And when they journeyed, the Levites took down the tabernacle and bore it and the ark and all the sacred articles of furniture. Because God thus honored the Levites, they became ambitious for still higher office, that they might obtain greater influence with the congregation. “And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?” 3T 345.1