By Henry Mahan
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).