Remember the old children story about the Pied Piper? When the Piper didn’t get what he felt was rightfully his, he played his pipe while the children followed him out of town. Is it possible that today we have spiritual Pied Pipers who, when they don’t get what they feel should be theirs – doing it God’s way, adopt a new approach?
The Apostle Peter warned us in 2 Peter 2:1-2, that false prophets and teachers would bring swift destruction on themselves by introducing destructive heresies and denying Christ. He went on to say that people of the church would follow their sensuality and would harm the reputation of the gospel. Jesus said in Luke 17:2 that it would be better for a man to have a millstone hung around his neck and thrown into the sea than to lead little ones astray. Jude 1 echoes Peter’s words saying that false teachers and prophets have followed the way of Cain, Balaam and Korah.
So, what can we learn from Cain, Balaam, and Korah? Each of these “prophets” had specific spiritual flaws I believe Jude was referring to in his letter. Here’s a quick summary:
Cain demanded to be accepted for the way “he was” and the way he chose to serve God rather than conforming to the divine standard of conduct and worship. If we aren’t careful, we can easily do the same thing. Instead of aligning ourselves with the Word, it is easy for us to self-justify our own tendencies and fleshly desires. This is a dangerous mindset as it causes us to be frustrated when our spiritual hunger is left unmet. It also catalyzes jealousy toward others who – doing as God desires – are manifesting the blessings of God.
Balaam clearly saw ministry as an opportunity to make money more than an opportunity to serve God and people. As people of God we must be very careful to not allow the physical needs of this life to overwhelm the high calling of ministry and spiritual worship. The Bible has much to say about spiritual hirelings – none of it good.
Presumption & Rebellion
Korah was jealous over the position that God had given Aaron and believed himself better qualified and more deserving of the High Priest role. It is interesting to note that Korah did have a seemingly valid point about Aaron’s flaws. Remember the incident when Moses came down from the mountain after receiving God’s laws? He found Aaron leading the people in the worship of a Golden Calf. When confronted, the best Aaron could come up with was, “You know how wicked these people are. They gave me their gold, I put it in the fire, and out popped this calf.” (Exodus 32:24) Not only was Aaron guilty of a grievous sin, he wasn’t even a specially-gifted liar.
We know from the Biblical account that the Levites joined in God’s punishment against the idolaters by slaying many of the disobedient with the sword. Indeed, it is reasonable to believe that Korah himself may have been one of God’s soldiers. We know that several of his kin became famous singers, poets and psalmists. Odds are, God had big plans for Korah as well. Considering all of this, it is easy to understand why Korah may have felt a little short-changed.
Nevertheless, it was not man’s opinion of Aaron that mattered, it was God’s. While Korah seemingly had no difficulty seeing the speck in Aaron’s eye, he was apparently blind to the planks of presumption and rebellion in his own. He believed that what God had given to someone else would have been better given to him.
While most of us have probably been guilty of one or more of these at some point in our life, we can all be thankful for God’s forgiveness and grace. Scripture serves as an important reminder that we need to be careful about what we think and how we act. This is especially true of those of us that God has entrusted with the care of His word and His people. As ministers of the gospel we must remember the admonition that teachers will be judged more strictly than others (James 3:1). While spiritual Pied Pipers will always be with us we do not have to be seduced by them, and we certainly should never become one.