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“Numbers 16;1-40 records the account of the rebellion of Korah, Dathan and Abiram and adds yet another dimension to the Bible's teaching regarding worship. Here the focus is upon God's appointed offices and functions within the Church- which were also given to reflect His provision of salvation and His people's dependence upon Him.

Korah and his co- complainers were not content with the roles that God had assigned to them, and coveted the office and function of Moses and Aaron. They resented the fact that Moses and Aaron had been entrusted with special authority and an exclusive function among God's people. The basis of the plea was an appeal to equality- they were the forerunners of modern egalitarians, who would erase every distinction in role and function on the basis of an assumed and promiscuous equality. They gathered together against Moses and Aaron and said to them, ‘you take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD? (verse 3)

Moses responded with God-given wisdom. First, he reminded them of their divinely appointed place and station: ‘ Hear now, you sons of Levi’ (verse 8). Second, he confronted their spirit of discontent: ‘Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself to do the work of the Tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to serve them? (verse 9). Third, he uncovered their true motivation: ‘ are you seeking the priesthood also’ (verse 10.). Fourth, he exposed the true object of their attack: ‘ Therefore you and all your company are gathered together against the LORD. And what is Aaron that you complain against him?’ (verse 11.)

God’s response of fearful judgment leaves no question as to His displeasure at their discontent with His assigned roles within the Church…
A similar contention is often made today. 1 Peter 2:5,9 refers to the New Testament church as a ‘spiritual house’ and a ‘holy priesthood.’ This passage, along with others, is the basis for the doctrine of the ‘priesthood of all believers.’ The idea of this important doctrine is that Christ has fulfilled what the Old Testament priesthood was designed to foreshadow. Through Him, every believer has access to God and their offerings of praise and service are accepted.

It is an error, however, to conclude from this doctrine that because all are now ‘priests’ in the New Testament Church and have equal access to God through Christ, all may rightly exercise any role involved in the life and worship of the Church. To plead the ‘priesthood of all believers’ in this way is little different from Korah's contention that ‘all the congregation is holy’ and should therefore have an equal right to the functions of Moses and Aaron.

The truth of the matter is that God continues to make distinctions in office and function, even in the New Testament Church, and with His commanded distinctions we ought to be content. ‘Now you are the body of Christ and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles. then gifts of healings. Helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 1 Corinthians 12:27-30

The order of office and function that God has established within His Church is designed to reflect His provision in Christ and His people's dependence upon His word through Christ for salvation. To deny God’s appointed offices or the distinction of function that He has prescribed, is to exalt man's judgment over God’s, and put individuals- apart from His calling, gifting and appointing them as his representatives- in the place of God.

It is also an error to conclude from the priesthood of all believers that every Christian has the right to ‘add something’ to the service of worship through the exercise of his/her particular gifts. Even the priests of the Old Covenant did not have the prerogative to invent rites and ordinances to be added to God's commands for worship. Why then would it be assumed that Christ’s fulfillment of the symbolism of the priesthood opens the way for individuals to set aside His commanded ordinances and determine for themselves how God is to be worshipped? (Comin, 41-43)

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