Ersatz children ∙

Ersatz children ∙

The LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. – Exodus 33:11

Numbers 16:28-35

 28 And Moses said, “This is how you will know that the LORD has sent me to do all these things that I have done – for I have not done them on my own.

 29 If these men die a natural death, or if nothing unusual happens, then the LORD has not sent me.

 30 But if the LORD does something entirely new and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them and all their belongings, and they go down alive into the grave, then you will know that these men have shown contempt for the LORD.”

 31 He had hardly finished speaking the words when the ground suddenly split open beneath them.

 32 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed the men, along with their households and all their followers who were standing with them, and everything they owned.

 35 Then fire blazed forth from the LORD.

In the northern hemisphere, on average 10,000+ icebergs form each year. Arctic icebergs range from the size of a large piano to the size of a 10-story building.

Roughly only 10% of an iceberg can be seen above water. The remaining 90%, is submerged. Top layers of icebergs are typically packed with low-density snow. The denser core of the iceberg is below the surface of the water. Because the densities of ice and seawater are very close in value, the ice floats “low” in the water.

The part of the iceberg, which is seen floating above the water line is referred to as the tip of the iceberg. In everyday language, the tip of an iceberg is used idiomatically when only a small noticeable part of something is visible. There is often a much larger, unknown portion that is unseen.

The Scriptures are replete with stories of whining, rebellious, envious people. Often these people are not people of faith. They are referred to as false brothers and sisters false teachers, or false apostles. They are ersatz believers, artificial and inferior substitutes or imitations.

Wherever there is whining, outrage, and rebellion, there’s usually a “stated reason” and a “hidden reason.” The stated reason is only the tip of the iceberg. The hidden reason is the unseen, secret agenda.

There is often a desire for power, wealth, or recognition. A selfish appetite for greatness and authority is a familiar theme in Scripture. For example, Absalom defying David his father (2 Samuel 15), Adonijah seeking to seize David’s crown (1 Kings 1), the disciples arrogantly debating which of them was the greatest (Luke 22:44), or the sinful ambition of Diotrephes to be preeminent in his local assembly (3 John 9-10).

Three notorious rabble-rousers Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, jump off the pages of the book of Numbers in their arrogant, deceitful opposition to Moses and Aaron.

Korah did not recognize or accept that the Father had spoken to Moses and appointed Moses to be His representative and spokesman. Instead, he projected his own sinful ambitions on Moses. Korah accused Moses and Aaron of elevating themselves above everyone else. In his view, Moses and Aaron had never heard from the Father. Thus the status quo was simply not fair. He publicly complained that more people should participate in the leadership of Israel and have a say. That was his “stated reason,” the tip of the iceberg. Of course, for some reason, his name was at the top of a very short list of those who should share in leadership.

What was his “hidden reason”? As a Levite, Korah did not have equal privileges to those of the Aaronic priesthood. Korah was not satisfied assisting priests in their duties, he craved more, he wanted to be in the limelight, and he wanted to be a priest (Numbers 16:10).


As children of the King, the most important place in life is the place that the Father has prepared for each of us. Character, loyalty, and faithfulness matter. status, recognition, wealth, and power may be significant before men, but not before the Father.

Father, You alone decide who leads and who does not. It is Your sovereign right. Encourage me to submit to Your wise, purposeful choices.


Paul describes his opponents as false apostlespseudapostoloi and false brotherspseudadelphoi (2 Corinthians 11:13, 26).In New Testament times, false apostles, false prophets, and false teachers (2 Peter 2:1)  had motives and strategies that were very similar to those of Korah. According to Jewish tradition, Korah and his followers were false, whereas Moses and Aaron were true (James M. Scott). Korah was an arrogant usurper and wanted his own way. Korah and his followers sought authority and recognition equal to Moses and Aaron.

How should we respond to ersatz leaders and their falsehoods and false accusations?

Moses did not argue with his accusers. Moses fell on his face before the Father and took the matter to Him in prayer (Numbers 16:4). He sought justice and vindication and left the matter in the Father’s hands.

Things did not work out too well for Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. The Father’s judgment was swift and absolute. Moses, the Father’s friend, and chosen leader was vindicated. While, the arrogant usurpers, ersatz leaders were destroyed. The earth opened up beneath them and they were engulfed, along with their families. Fire from heaven was the finishing touch.

This is intended as an object lesson for us in all. Arrogance and pride lead to failure and destruction. Humility and faithful dependence upon the Father are elevated.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.

James 4:10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

Rebellion against the Father’s chosen, anointed ones, is rebellion against Him. It is foolish to challenge the Father’s authority or mess with His friends.

Hebrews 10:31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Thinking about icebergs for a moment, what hidden reasons and secret agendas lurk within each of us? Sometimes we do not even know ourselves. A deceived person does not know that they are deceived. The Scriptures are quite clear about the problem of self-deception.

Jeremiah 17:9-10 

 9 The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?

 10 But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives.

Our hearts are extremely deceitful. Yet the Father plumbs our innermost being. He sees our hidden depths. He knows the secrets of our hearts. Nothing escapes Him. How can we ever get to the bottom of our deceitful hearts? How can we rid ourselves of evil, hidden motives, and secret agendas?

Spend time in the Word of God. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. The Father will certainly show us what is hidden within. Pray that you may see, be responsive, and properly handle what is revealed.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper Than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

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