God’s People, part 22: Aaron

Read Exodus 32:1-10

“The LORD gave these further instructions to Aaron: ‘I Myself have put you in charge of all the holy offerings that are brought to Me by the people of Israel. I have given all these consecrated offerings to you and your sons as your permanent share.’” (Numbers 18:8 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

c4f74cd6ff4bcada231666d81c4d7b5cPart 22: Aaron. Most people, when they think of Exodus, they think of Moses going to Pharaoh and telling him to let God’s people go. They think of Moses conjuring the ten plagues that fell upon Egypt and they think of a strong, Charlton Heston-like man who lifted his staff to part the red sea. However, most probably do not think of Aaron or, if they do, they probably do not think much of him. He was just that supporting actor with a fake beard who was paid to basically silently stand by the side of Moses and watch him have all the fun. In fact, the most fun Aaron is ever seen having in the film, The Ten Commandments, is while he is caving into the pressures of the licentious Hebrews demanding orgies and the building of a golden calf.

Let’s just say that it’s not easy to be the brother of a hero. While we will get to Moses in the next installment of this series, I want to take the time for us to get to know is brother Aaron. While he is Moses’ brother, we barely know anything about him prior to Moses’ burning bush experience. The Hebrew Scriptures do not mention him in Moses’ birth/baby narrative. We only know, at that point, that Moses had a sister who saw him to safety to the Egyptian Pharaoh’s court and who ensured that Moses would be cared for and that her mother would be the one to nurse him. A bold move, no doubt, for a slave girl in ancient Egypt.

Aaron, on the other hand, comes on the scene when Moses pleads with God to not send him back to Egypt to speak to Pharaoh because he claimed he did not speak well. God, in order to appease Moses and ensure he would go, tells him that he will appoint his brother to him as his assistant and that his brother can do the talking. Thus, Aaron shows up on the scene and, indeed, assists Moses in negotiating (if we can call it that) God’s terms with the Egyptian ruler. What’s more, Aaron is the one who Moses hands the staff to do God’s bidding.

Yet, what Aaron is perhaps most known for is his epic failures. He is the one who caved into pressure to build the Hebrews a golden calf to worship instead of the true and living God (Exodus 32:1-6). His sons grew up to be rebellious (Leviticus 10:1-3). He was jealous of Moses’ relationship with God and complained to God against his brother (Numbers 12). Over his leadership as the high priest, arose c among other priests that resulted in the death of those who opposed Aaron (Numbers 16:25-35). His sons took possession of the censers of the dead priests.

As can be seen Aaron was far from perfect. He was sometimes weak and cowardly, and other times he was over-zealous and cantankerous. Yet, within him he also had a fiery passion for his God and he never ceased to serve, even when finding himself in the wrong. Like all human beings, he was broken and sinful; however, he was redeemed by the One he devoted his life to and, in the end, his legacy was the establishment of the Aaronites, who along with the Levites, went on to shape the worship life of the Israelites.

As can be seen, it does not take perfection to be redeemed, it takes a humble willingness to be perfected by the love and grace of God. Aaron was not loved by God because he always got it right. He wasn’t redeemed because he was an icon of perfection; rather, Aaron was loved by God for who he was (flaws and all), and he was redeemed because God LOVED him and because Aaron was willing to be loved (and perfected) by God. This is true for all of us. Let us, despite our flaws, humble ourselves and devote ourselves to the love of God our Creator, God our Redeemer, and God our Sustainer.

“Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love.” – Morihei Ueshiba

Lord, humble me and fill me with a fiery passion to serve you and devote my life in your service. Produce in me, Lord, a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Amen.

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