Lessons from Aaron

How do you think Amram and Jochebed talked about their children?  Do you remember the famous children of this family?  Miriam, the prophetess, was the oldest, Moses the Lawgiver, was the youngest, and Aaron, the High Priest, was the middle child.  Mic 6:4 –  For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage; And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. It is unclear if they lived to see all the accomplishments of their children, but they must have felt some sense of how important these 3 were to God’s purposes. 

 I.  A Closer Look at Aaron:  What do you think of the oldest of these 3 children, Aaron? 

  • Aaron begins every alphabetical list of men in the Bible. His is the first entry of any length in most Bible Dictionaries.
  • He is the older brother of Msoes
  •  He is the first high priest, and the model for all priest to come
  • The spokesperson for his brother Moses – Exodus 4:14-15 –  14 So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and He said: “Is not Aaron the Levite your brother? I know that he can speak well. And look, he is also coming out to meet you. When he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth. And I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do.   God was commissioning Moses to return to Egypt and liberate the Israelites. After Moses’ persistent excuses, God assures Moses that Aaron will go with him and speak for God. 

1.  Ex. 7:1–  So the LORD said to Moses: “See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet.  – 2nd appearance of the word prophet (mouthpiece)

2.  He held up Moses hand during the war with the Amalekites in  Ex. 17.

3.  He was among the small group that was permitted to go near to Mt. Sinai. After Moses’ departure (with Joshua) Aaron was left in charge. Ex 24:13-14 – So Moses arose with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up to the mountain of God. 14 And he said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Indeed, Aaron and Hur are with you. If any man has a difficulty, let him go to them.”  Aaron was Moses’ “right hand man”.  If anyone could be trusted to take charge in Moses’ absence, it was his brother, Aaron.

 II.  Aaron’s Worst Moment: The setting is at the foot of Mt. Sinai, as the people await Moses’ return from receiving the 10 commandments from the Lord.,,Exodus 32:1-6 – (Deut 9:6-29) 32 Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him,”Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”  2 And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4 And he received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”  5 So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.” 6 Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

  • Moses tells us in  Deuteronomy 9:20 –20 And the Lord was angry enough with Aaron to destroy him, but at that time I prayed for Aaron too. , God would have destroyed him if not for Moses’ intercession.

A.  How do we explain Aaron’s fall into idolatry? The Bible is very objective in its portrayal of God’s people. We see the flaws as easily as the strengths. Aaron was the orator of God, and it is the orator’s temptation to want to say what the people want to hear. (the plight of the popular preacher) Aaron succumbed to the popular opinion of the moment.

1.  Aaron should have used the talent God gave him to persuade the people against sin.

B.  A person’s character may be displayed both in the times he speaks up and in the times he is quiet. Just as we see Aaron’s weakness in his unwillingness to speak up for God, we can also see his strength in his passive response in Lev. 10.

1.  He was quiet when his sons meet their doom at the altar of God. How would you react to this event? Aaron indicated that he respected God’s decision with his silence.  Lev 10:1-3 Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2 So fire went out from the LORD and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. 3 And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.'” So Aaron held his peace.”

2.  He remained quiet and patient during the rebellion of Korah and then made loving intervention for the people from the plague in Num. 16. He stood by Moses when Moses was there.

a. He does join with Miriam in rebellion against Moses himself in Num. 12. But pleads most tenderly for her release from the leprosy.

3.  Again he is a follower as he shares in Moses sin at Kadesh and his punishment in Num. 20:12 and is refused entrance into the land of Canaan.  Aaron died at the age of 123 on Mt Hor and was mourned for 30 days by the people.  Aaron provides a graphic lesson on the power of conformity. He stands as an example of a righteous man (the Psalmist calls him “the saint of God” in Psalm 106) who is overcome with a trespass.

 III Aaron’s Absurd Excuse: Matthew Henry said, Sin is a brat that nobody is willing to own. Aaron tries to blame the people (and they are guilty), but his excuse is so exaggerated that is borders on the absurd.  Ex 32:22-24  22 So Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.”

A.  Aaron’s sin (as their appointed leader) became a catalyst for rebellion that God could not tolerate. Ex 32:25-26  25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies.  26 So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the LORD, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him.  (NIV) God called on Moses to stand against his brother and make a clear distinction between those who would serve God and those who would not. There was no room for absurd excuses. Sin is infectious.  

1.  The prodigal of Jesus’ parable was a rebel, but he repented w/o excuse. The modern prodigal blames others: his companions robbed him, his fellow workers lied to him, he has been the victim of conspiracy.

2.  When things go wrong blame yourself first. The very attempt to put it upon others is evidence that it is ours. Besides we may deceive ourselves, but seldom others, and never God.

3.  Excuses are absurd: The youngster cleaning up the kitchen who says of a broken plate I just picked it up and it broke. Consider David in his remarks concerning the death of Uriah, the Hittite.. ‘Do not let this thing displease you, for the sword devours one as well as another. (2 Sam 11:25) as if it was just an accident of war and he had nothing to do with it!  Sin is not an accident. We are responsible for our actions. No man can compel us to sin and God designed us for freedom.

 IV. Lessons from Aaron to Us

A. Be watchful, for we can fall…  In this case the sinner was Aaron. If there were one man in the camp to count on during Moses’ absence surely it would have been Aaron –  1 Cor 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

1. It is easy to stand when there is no conflict, but when a crisis is upon us that is another matter.

B. Be charitable to others when they prove weak in the hour of temptation. We cannot assign guilt only God can. Moses did not say anything to Aaron about these trifling excuses. He probably knew that Aaron was not fooled either and left him to his conscience. Instead he prayed for Aaron. 

C. Be Joyful at God’s grace to the repentant. This Aaron was two months away from being made high priest. In fact he was the better fitted for his priesthood because of it. God could still use Aaron, even though he had failed.

 Conclusion:  How often did Aaron reflect on his sin as he was officiating as the High Priest for the sins of others.  He was as weak as the others.

  • My High Priest is not Aaron, but Jesus. He is not weak. He is not rebellious. He is able to save.  Heb 4:14-16  Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.