One of the great American novels of all time is Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. Ahab, the tragic hero, is captain of the Pequod, a whaling vessel anchored in Nantucket. The crew of the Pequod signed up to harpoon whales and harvest as much blubber and oil as the ship can hold. They have no idea their captain, who shuffles the deck with a wooden prosthesis, has an insane obsession. He’s hell-bent on killing Moby Dick, the great white whale that devoured his leg. As months pass, the crew realizes their captain will not stop until his revenge is satisfied. Here’s Ahab speaking to the crew.
“Aye, aye! and I’ll chase him round Good Hope, and round the Horn, and round the Norway Maelstrom, and round perdition’s flames before I give him up. And this is what ye have shipped for, men! To chase that white whale on both sides of land, and over all sides of earth, till he spouts black blood and rolls fin out.” (36.32)
In the end, Ahab lost his life, ship, and crew in a confrontation with the great whale far from home.
All through Moses’ ministry, he was falsely accused of being Ahab-like. But his mission wasn’t self-centered, ego-driven, or directed by personal fulfillment at the expense of others. He was a humble man, more humble than any on the face of the earth. He never asked for his assignment but was called by God while tending to his father-in-law’s sheep. He resisted the call by reminding God of his stuttering disability. But, he found strength and renewed vision in his quiet time. In faith, he followed God’s leading through the uncertainties of the wilderness. He gave up the comforts of Pharoah’s palace to join the sufferings of God’s people.
In his 40 years of ministry in the wilderness, there were many challenges, but none like the one found in Numbers 16. It occurred at his lowest point of leadership – after the Israelites failed to take the Promised Land, and were sentenced to another forty years of wandering. As they retraced the same old, dusty trails a spirit of bitter mutiny began to stir. All the past uprisings were done by the people. This greatest revolt was instigated for the first time by a person.
Numbers 16:1 sets the stage, “Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent and rose up against Moses.”
When God wants to do something new in the earth he always raises up a leader. A leader stands out front showing the way with their example, influence, and vision sharing. We are all leaders in some God-given capacity. As we step out, not everyone that follows will support us. In fact, leadership and opposition go together. Just sit around and do nothing and you’ll find no resistance. But dare to go after God’s vision and many will say, “Who do you think you are? What makes you so special? This isn’t about God. It’s about little old you.” If we wait around for everyone to carry us forward on their shoulders we’ll always stand in the back. The big question is, “God, what are you stirring me to do for you?”