For all the emphasis on integrity in leadership (and we should emphasize integrity), rebellion against leadership is seldom over integrity. It is usually either a personal matter (we don’t like the leaders), or some other quest for personal (or shared) power.
We saw the personal side when Aaron and Miriam objected to Moses’ leadership because he married a “Cushite” woman. We don’t know why they objected to her. It was but a convenient excuse.
In Numbers 16, a leader of the Kohathites, one of the Levite clans whose job it was to carry the sacred tabernacle furnishings, along with some Rubenites (who had no priestly function at all), objected to the power of the priesthood being vested in one family – that of Aaron. “You’ve gone to far” they said to Moses and Aaron. ‘Who do you think you are? We’re all holy. We should ALL get a shot at serving at the tabernacle.’
Did they feel slighted that they didn’t get to live and function as closely with the Lord as the priests? Or did they feel oppressed that they had to work and make all the sacrifices to keep the tabernacle worship going, while all the priests had to do was administer the sacrifices? Or was it simply a matter of wanting to share the power of the priesthood?
The text doesn’t specifically say, and God doesn’t spend a whole lot of time delving into the intricate motives of the human heart. The point was this: these rebels were opposing God’s order of things.
In religion, in nature, in government, in the home, and in the Church, God has a divine order He expects to be respected. Like Korah and his 250 compadres, many modern people have their own ideas about shared power, equality, and democracy – and those are fine unless they conflict with the Lord’s ideas. When you oppose God’s order, the ground may not open and swallow you immediately. But the fact that it did do so to this group of rebels should give anyone in the rebelling business great pause.