April 24, 2006 ē By Ed Wrather
And Moses said: "By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these works, for I have not done them of my own will. If these men die naturally like all men, or if they are visited by the common fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected the LORD." Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly. Then all Israel who were around them fled at their cry, for they said, "Lest the earth swallow us up also!" - Numbers 16:28-35.
Imagine the headline, "Earth Swallows Man!" Of course, we think, things like that just happen back in the days of the Old Testament. Sadly, a 27 year-old man northeast of Sacramento, California has been swallowed by the earth. A sinkhole suddenly opened up around 9:30pm near the kitchen of his home and he fell ten feet into the hole. Rubble covered up the man and he was killed. Thankfully, his wife who was also in the home at the time was not injured. She called 911 but there was not anything anyone could do to save her husband. A Placer County Sheriffís Department spokesperson, Dena Erwin, says, "Itís unbelievable. From the front of the house, itís absolutely normal. Then, in the middle of the house, is this enormous hole." The hole is now 30 feet wide by 20 feet in depth and is still growing. The home has been condemned.
Why was Korah and many others swallowed up by the earth? Korah and the 250 other leaders who joined him, sinned by challenging the authority of Moses. Moses was Godís chosen leader. They were also trying to usurp Godís chosen leadership of the Levitical priesthood. It was a warning then and it is now to be very careful when challenging the authority of those who have been placed in leadership positions by God.
Was the man in California who was swallowed up by the sinkhole guilty of challenging Godís chosen leadership? I doubt it. Was he guilty of some other sin? I do not know. However, it is a powerful reminder that we are not guaranteed the living of life to a ripe old age. We are not necessarily safe from disaster even in our homes.
Life is very fragile and we should always be aware that it could end very suddenly. In the book of James we are told, "Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit'; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that (James 4:13-15).'"
Knowing that our lives are so fragile and that sudden disaster can come upon us we should be careful to make the best use of the time we have been given. "Carpe diem" the Latin words for "seize the day" is an excellent motto for Christians. Seize this day and every day not for yourself but for the Lord. Then, you will not be worried about the earth swallowing you up. Instead, you will have the peace of a life well lived in the will of God.