Imitation is not Flattery to God
When we call someone a copycat, it’s not usually a compliment, and yet, there’s the quote that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” So, is margarine a compliment to butter? Is polyester a compliment to silk? Most of the time, we use imitations of things not because we think the imitation is as good as the real thing, but because we have some reason (usually cost) for not using the real thing, and we are looking for an acceptable replacement. Me, I’m satisfied with cubic zirconia in my jewelry because it often has more sparkle than I could find in any type of diamond that would be affordable for me.
In today’s reading from Numbers 16:20 through Numbers 17:8 (in the Complete Jewish Bible), or to Numbers 16:43 (in the Amplified and other Bibles), we will find out what happens to people who imitate the things of God without being chosen to perform them.
The first thing we see is that Yahveh is angry enough with Korah and his followers that He is ready (once again) to destroy the whole community of Israel. He tells Moses and Aaron to step back while He comes down to take care of business. And, (once again) Moses saves their lives by presenting a perspective to God that turns His wrath around. This time, Moses asks God if all should pay for the sin of one.
With that question, God tells the community of Israel to get away from the tents and families and belongings of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. As the people move away, the troublemakers come out and stand in the entrances of their tents with their families. Moses speaks out that if the men die natural deaths, the people can know that God did not send Moses as a leader for them. Moses goes on to tell them that if, however, God does a new thing and brings the men alive into Sheol (the place of the dead), the people can be sure that God is with Moses and has chosen him.
As soon as Moses quit speaking, the earth opened up beneath Korah, Dathan, and Abiram and swallowed them up completely. It also swallowed up all who sided with them and all their belongings before it closed up again. The community of Israel ran away shouting that the earth might swallow them too, and then the fire of God came down and destroyed the 250 elders that brought up fire in their censers. I’m guessing the fire in the censers part was based on the fact that the 250 elders were imitating an act of the priesthood, and back then, God did not put up with apostates in the camp, so He dealt with the trouble immediately.
God spoke to Moses and said to take up the censers that the 250 used for incense and hammer them into a covering for the altar of sacrifice. He said they were holy because they were used on God’s altar, and covering the altar with them served as a way to keep them holy as well as making them a warning to others of Israel who might consider trying to imitate the priesthood in the future. No ordinary person, not descended from Aaron, is allowed to offer incense at the altar of God if he does not want to suffer the same fate as Korah and his followers.
After all that was done before them, the community of Israel began to accuse Moses again. This time they said that Moses killed the people of God. (I did a mental “I could have had a V8” slap on the head when I read this.) However, as the community gathered against Moses and Aaron, they looked in the direction of the temple and noticed the cloud of God’s presence descending on it, and the glory of The Lord appeared. Moses and Aaron then went to the front of the Tent of Meeting to meet with God.
From all of this, I would guess that imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery to God. He is interested in real people, real hearts, and real lives being dedicated to Him. Our position doesn’t matter to God except that He wants us to fulfill the demands of the position to which He has called us. In Malachi 1:6a, God speaks a message to the priests that can be applied to all of us…
The Lord All-Powerful said, “Children honor their fathers. Servants honor their masters. I am your Father, so why don’t you honor me? I am your master, so why don’t you respect me?”
I actually recommend a reading of the whole 1st chapter of Malachi for an interesting perspective on how we as people treat our Wonderful and Almighty Lord God. It’s eye-opening and heart-breaking. It reminds me of my own salvation experience, and what God spoke to my heart the night I gave my whole life over to Him. To keep it short, I’ll just say that I was not at church because I wanted to be, but I was there because someone manipulated me, and I could only have my way if I agreed to attend. The preacher did something he had never done before (or since) in asking everyone in the building to pray where they were because of a baptism they were having that night. As everyone knelt around me, I was the only one standing, so I got down by my seat to imitate what everyone else was doing.
Like I said, God doesn’t like imitation, so He used my own prideful behavior “against” me (though it turned out for me) by having all the women in the church gather around to pray with me. I thought to myself, “Oh, Crystal. What have you gotten yourself into now, and how are you gonna get out of it?” And then came a voice as audible as if He was in the room in human form, and God spoke these words, “You’re not rejecting these people or all the other people who have hurt you in your life. You are rejecting me, and I haven’t done anything to hurt you.” I broke at those words because the last thing I ever wanted to do was hurt God even if I wasn’t purposefully walking according to His will.
I have served God to the best of my ability since that date back in July of 1983. I have failed Him many times, and I used to keep the Malachi 1:6 scripture printed on a card at my desk to remind me to always keep my attitude filled with honor and respect toward God. I cannot put into words how much I love Him, or how humbled I am by the fact that He loves me. When I try to make myself useful to Him, I usually fall flat on my face. Maybe my motivations aren’t right, or maybe I’m stepping outside of His calling for me when that happens, but I don’t like it. Oh, but when He chooses to use me for something, the feeling is indescribable. When it comes to God; keep is honorable, keep it respectful, and keep it real.
No comments yet.
- Current Events
- LCW for Edits
- About Writing
- Bible Study
- Fun & Flourishing Friday
- Lyrics and Song
- Musably Monday
- Sabbatically Saturday
- School of Christ
- Serendipitously Sunday
- Slice of Life
- Tech Time Tuesday
- Theologically Thursday
- TV and Movies
- Wordy Winsome Wednesday