Hope for the hopeless – Aaron

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If you have ever experienced personal failure so catastrophic that it eradicated any hope for your future, you would identify well with Aaron. Aaron lived approximately 1530 – 1410 BC and was born a slave during Israel’s enslavement in Egypt. He was the eldest son of Amram and Jochebed, an older brother to Moses by 3 years, and the first in the Levitical priesthood. He married Elisheba, and together, had 4 sons.

Hope for the hopeless – AaronWhen Aaron and Moses were in their eighties (Exodus 4:27-28; 7:7), God brought them together to lead Israel out from Egypt’s enslavement. As Moses had a speech impediment (Exo 4:10), Aaron would do the speaking on Moses behalf, because he could speak well (Exo 4:14).

Under the Lord’s guidance, Moses and Aaron confronted the king of Egypt (Pharaoh), ten times, performing miracles and calling him to let Israel go. Pharaoh refused, until confrontation number ten, when “at midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt” (Exo 12:29). Pharaoh “summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel…” (Exo 12:31). God then lead Israel out, miraculously through the Red Sea, and into the wilderness, free from Egypt after 430 years (Exo 12:40).

Three months later “Israel camped before the mountain [Sinai], while Moses went up to God” for the first time (Exodus 19:2-3, 7). Sometime later, God summoned Moses up the mountain for the 6th time, but this time he was to take Aaron, Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel with him (Exo 24:1). There they “saw the God of Israel,” yet they did not die (Exo 24:10).

The Lord instructed Moses alone, to come higher up “the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written…” (Exo 24:12). Joshua remained waiting for Moses, while the other men, including Aaron, returned to camp. “Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights” (Exo 24:18).

Meanwhile, the people of Israel grew impatient with both Moses and God. So, they came to Aaron and demanded, “make us gods who shall go before us” (Exo 32:1). Aaron collected the Israelite’s gold jewellery “and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’” (Exo 32:4). Moses returned, only to find Aaron had fuelled the people into a frenzy of idol worship (Exo 32:25).

Aaron, Israel’s first high priest, who had seen God on Mount Sinai, lead Israel into idolatry. When confronted by Moses, Aaron blamed the people saying, “they are set on evil,” and would not accept responsibility (Exo 32:21-24). Moses “took the calf… burned it… ground it to powder… scattered it on water and made the people of Israel drink it” (Exo 32:20).

How could Aaron sink so low, so easily, and so quickly? In many ways Aaron reminds us of our many failings, our easy stumblings into sin, and our unwillingness to take responsibility for our sin.

Because of God’s promises, Moses’ intercession, God’s discipline, and Israel’s sorrow over their sin (Exo 32:26-33:6), God allowed Aaron to continue as High Priest. Although this was not his only blunder (Numbers 12), Aaron learned his lessons over time.

Aaron’s life displayed the mercy of God, undeserved grace, and God’s love which surpasses human reason. This is the same loving grace which saves us today. “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy” (Exo 33:19). Aaron’s life demonstrates God’s holiness, God’s grace, and that God is the God of all hope, even when we are certain that we have burnt ourselves hopeless.

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