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With New Testament Eyes: 19 - The High Priest Intercedes

By Henry Mahan

      Numbers 16:41-50

      The authority of Moses and Aaron had been questioned by Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and 250 men of renown in the congregation of Israel (vv. 1-4). Moses tried to show them the unreasonableness of their rebellion (vv. 5-11). Moses commanded them all to appear before the Lord the next day, with Aaron, to have the matter settled (vv. 16-18). When God would destroy the whole congregation, Moses and Aaron interceded for them (vv. 19-22). God opened the earth and swallowed up Korah, Dathan, Abiram, their families, and all that pertained to them (vv. 26-33). He then sent fire from heaven and consumed the 250 men who followed them and offered incense (vv. 34-35). The rebellion was not only against Moses (the prophet and leader) but against God's appointed High Priest, Aaron (vv. 9-11), which reveals rebellion against God's way of redemption through Christ; for Aaron represents Christ, our High Priest (Lev. 16:17-18; Lev. 16:33-34; Heb. 9:7-8).

      One would think that this incident would have a lasting effect on the people of Israel, but it did not; for the very next day all of the congregation murmured against Moses and Aaron saying, 'You have killed the people of the Lord' (v. 41). This reveals the total blindness and hardness of the human heart. No amount of signs, miracles, nor witnesses will bring men to God apart from divine regeneration and revelation. In John 5:32-40, our Lord declared to the religionists, 'John bore witness to me... the works I do reveal who I am...the Father himself has verified my claims the scriptures testify of me.. but you will not come to me!'

      The wrath of God arose against the rebellious people and he said to Moses, 'Get you up from among this congregation that I may destroy them' (v. 45). Moses instructed Aaron to take a censer, put fire in it from off the alter with incense, and go quickly unto the congregation and make an atonement for them before the Lord. The plague from God had begun (v. 46). Aaron, the High Priest, ran with the censer of incense and stood between the fallen dead and the living, for the plague had already killed 14,700 people. As Aaron stood between the Holy God and the people with the atonement, the plague stopped (vv. 47-49). This is one of the strong Old Testament pictures of our great High Priest, Jesus Christ. We will consider the type as we look at Aaron.

      1. Aaron loved the sinful people

      These people certainly did not love Aaron. The whole plot was against him--to strip him of his office and take it unto themselves. Is not this the attitude of Adam's race against Christ? In the garden of Eden, at the tower of Babel, and at the cross the cry has been and is, 'We will not have him reign over us.' 'They hated me without a cause.' We would rob him of all his preeminence.

      Yet Aaron loved the people, and with no regard for his own life or safety, he rushed down among the people who were under the wrath of God and was identified with them. Christ, our Lord, loved us, came to earth, identified with us in the flesh under the law of God, and took upon himself the form of a servant (Phil. 2:6-8). 'Herein is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins' (1 John 4:10).

      2. Aaron acted as God's High Priest

      Aaron did not rush before God empty-handed with only a plea for mercy and a prayer for compassion. The people had sinned, and the wrath of God cannot be lifted without a sin-offering and an atonement (Heb. 9:22). Aaron brought the censer of incense.

      Even so, Christ, our Lord, as our High Priest, must have somewhat to offer (Heb. 8:1-3). His tabernacle is his body; his sacrifice is himself; his atonement is his own blood (Heb. 9:11- 12).

      Aaron did not plead their works and deeds, nor promise that they would do better in the future. He held up the atonement.

      Christ does not plead our righteousness, but his! He does not plead our works, but his!

      3. Aaron served as the mediator

      The people were dropping like dust as Aaron stepped between them and God to plead God's mercy for them. He was saying, 'Death and judgment, you must march over me and my atonement; you must smite God's High Priest and ignore God's atonement if you destroy the people.' Wrath and judgment have a claim on us. Justice is ready to smile the sheep. But Christ, the Mediator, stands between us and the justice of God and says, 'You must walk over me and ignore my blood to destroy my sheep' (1 Tim. 2:5; Rom. 8:33-34).

      Aaron and his atonement was the only hope the people had, as Christ in you is the hope of glory. Aaron was the unaided mediator: he stood alone waving the censer, as Christ, by himself, purged our sins! Aaron was the sufficient saviour.

      Death came to his feet and stopped. Even so, our Lord Jesus Christ is the effectual, sufficient Redeemer of all who believe. Judgment must stop at his feet (Rom. 8:1); for 'he is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them' (Heb. 7:25; Heb. 10:12-17).

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See Also:
   Foreward & Acknowledgements
   1 - The Fall
   2 - Abel's Offering
   3 - The Ark Of Noah
   4 - Sarah and Hagar; Law and Grace
   5 - The Lord Will Provide
   6 - A Bride for the Heir
   7 - Bethel - The House of God
   8 - Peniel - The Face of God
   9 - Joseph Opens the Storehouses
   10 - Joseph and His Brothers
   11 - Shiloh
   12 - The Passover
   13 - The Manna
   14 - Water from the rock
   15 - The Blood Before the Lord
   16 - The Ram of Consecration
   17 - The Day of Atonement
   18 - Caleb - The Faithful Dog
   19 - The High Priest Intercedes
   20 - The Brazen Serpent
   21 - A Prophet Like Moses
   22 - The Cities of Refuge
   23 - Joshua
   24 - The Scarlet Line in the Window
   25 - The birth of Samson
   26 - The Kinsman Redeemer
   27 - The Song of Hannah
   28 - Give us a King
   29 - Saul's Great Sin
   30 - David and Mephibosheth
   31 - Why God Permitted David to Fall
   32 - Comfort from God's Covenant
   33 - I Will Not Offer to God that which Cost me Nothing
   34 - The Queen of Sheba Comes to Solomon
   35 - Three Examples of Faith
   36 - Where is the Lord God of Elijah?
   37 - Empty Vessels Filled
   38 - Naaman, the Leper
   39 - Open his Eyes that He may See
   40 - Four Lepers Teach us a Lesson
   41 - Nehushtan--A Piece of Brass
   42 - Bringing Back the Ark
   43 - Uzziah's Great Transgression
   44 - Four Things Learned in Trouble
   45 - How Can Man be Just With God?
   46 - Three Vital Questions
   47 - I Know that my Redeemer Liveth
   48 - Now Mine Eye Seeth Thee
   49 - The Psalm of Messiah the King
   50 - God's two great books
   51 - The Psalm of the Cross
   52 - The Lord is my Shepherd
   53 - True God - True Israel - True Redeemer
   54 - Eight Great Precepts
   55 - My Hope is in Thee
   56 - Many, O Lord, Are Thy Wonderful Works
   57 - A Song of Love
   58 - The Sinner's Prayer
   59 - My Rock and my Salvation
   60 - Our Lord's Sufferings for Our Sins
   61 - Mercy and Truth are Met Together
   62 - The Victory of the Messiah
   63 - Bless the Lord, O my Soul
   64 - Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So
   65 - The King-Priest
   66 - The Chief Cornerstone
   67 - The Observer and the Observed
   68 - Praise the Lord O my Soul
   69 - Wisdom in Christ
   70 - The Conclusion of the Whole Matter
   71 - Remember Now Thy Creator
   72 - My Beloved is Mine and I am His
   73 - What is Thy Beloved more than Another Beloved?
   74 - The Lord Our Righteousness
   75 - The Believers Hope
   76 - From Nothing to Everything
   77 - Lost, Driven Away, Broken, Sick
   78 - Can These Bones Live?
   79 - Four Things God Taught Nebuchadnezzar
   80 - Thy God Will Deliver Thee
   81 - Hosea--Type of Christ
   82 - A Famine to be Feared
   83 - Salvation is of the Lord
   84 - A Fountain Opened for Mourners
   85 - The Messenger of the Covenant


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