God Is Not Violent: Korah’s Rebellion

by Jon Kauffman

Death of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, Gustave Doré, 1865

Understanding the violence in the Old Testament is very important to a pacifist. Jesus is compassionate and loving. God is Love. Jesus is the exact replication of the Father. How can we reconcile the character of Jesus with the violence of the Old Testament?

If we blindly accept violence attributed to God as actually committed by God, we must believe God would tear unborn children from their mother’s womb and slaughter infants.

Origen saw a problem with all that violence.

If we cannot accept a loving God killing infants then as Origen could not accept a loving God killing infants, we must look for alternative explanations of Old Testament violence attributed to God. If we follow Origen’s example we must remember that the Bible is God breathed and we must find an explanation that reveals Jesus and God as loving us. We must read the story and interpret it as Jesus would interpret that story.

Korah’s Rebellion

27 So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing with their wives, children and little ones at the entrances to their tents.

28 Then Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord has sent me to do all these things and that it was not my idea: 29 If these men die a natural death and suffer the fate of all mankind, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord brings about something totally new, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them, with everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the realm of the dead, then you will know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.”

31 As soon as he finished saying all this, the ground under them split apart 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them and their households, and all those associated with Korah, together with their possessions. 33 They went down alive into the realm of the dead, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them, and they perished and were gone from the community.

35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the 250 men who were offering the incense.

Numbers 16:27-35, NIV

Greg Boyd has written a book “Crucifixion of the warrior God.” Pastor Boyd tells us we must look and see if there is an interpretation of this story that shows a different source or agent for the violence.  

We have Jesus to show us a true picture of God.  God is not violent. Pastor Boyd tells us that in the Old Testament when violence is attributed to God, almost always the violence was caused by a different agent. God has allowed the violence as a consequence of disobedience to God.

Korah’s Rebellion is a violent story of death. We can assume an agent different than God is causing this violence.

10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. 1 Corinthians 10:10, NIV.

Most scholars think that this verse is referencing Korah’s Rebellion. Korah’s Rebellion is one of 6 incidences that this verse could be referencing. None of these incidents have a destroying angel in the story and yet Paul shows us that a destroying angel is the agent responsible for the death of the people in this story.

In Korah’s Rebellion, the destroying angel or demon wanted to kill these people. God pulled his protection away from these people because they refused to obey God. The destroying angel killed the rebelling people.

Return to : Reasons Christians Give to Say Violence by Christians is Legitimate

Copyright © 2019 by Jon Kauffman. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted when used to further the Kingdom of God. Permission is gladly given to re-blog this post.

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