His work: Aaron was the first in the line of Israel's hereditary priesthood.
His character: Aaron's role was primarily a passive one: to do and say whatever Moses told him to. Though he stood by Moses throughout his struggle with Pharaoh, he seemed unable to stand on his own as a leader. When Moses was absent for forty days, Aaron gave in to the people's insistent demands for a god to worship. On another occasion, however, he joined Moses in stopping a plague that threatened to destroy the Israelites because of their rebellion.
His sorrow: Aaron disobeyed the Lord by presiding over an incident of false worship. At another point he angered God by joining his sister Miriam in complaining against their brother's leadership.
His triumph: To have spoken God's word, entrusted to him through Moses, and eventually to have acted as a mediator between God and man, providing for the atonement of sin and the people's reconciliation with God.
Key Scriptures: Exodus 20:1-6; 28; 32; Numbers 12:1-15
A Look at the Man
After the incident with the calf, Aaron must have been aware of the seriousness of his failure to lead the people and of his own need for forgiveness. He would have realized that his life had been in jeopardy because of God's anger. But Aaron was spared because of God's merciful response to his brother's prayers. In the book of Deuteronomy, which depicts Moses addressing the Israelites prior to their entrance into the Promised Land, Moses says that "the LORD was angry enough with Aaron to destroy him, but at that time I prayed for Aaron too" (Deuteronomy 9:20).
Aaron was a man who had witnessed God's power over Pharaoh and who had for a time stood on the mountain with Moses and seen the glory of God. As one who was set apart by God to play an important role among his people, he had a unique part to play in the story of salvation. And yet even his kinship with Moses, even God's call to be a priest, did not spare him from the power of sin's temptation.
Thereafter, whenever Aaron performed his priestly duties as a mediator between a holy God and a sinful people, he would not be able to come before the Lord with any air of self-righteousness, as though only the people, and not he, were guilty of sin. Because of his own weakness, he would be capable of sympathizing with the weakness of God's people.
A priest who could sympathize with the people, as it turns out, was only half of what God had planned for his people. Centuries later there would be a man who would perfectly embody the role of the high priest, not only sympathizing with the weakness of his people, but also resisting the power of temptation. Because of him, we are now able to approach God, confident that his attitude toward each of us is marked by grace and mercy.
Reflect On: Hebrews 4:14–16
Praise God: For providing us with a great high priest.
Offer Thanks: That God has made a way for us to return to him.
Confess: Any pride that makes you want to live life strictly on your own terms.
Ask God: To increase your confidence in his forgiveness.
Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (Zondervan). © 2010 by Ann Spangler. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Enjoy the complete book by purchasing your own copy at the Bible Gateway Store. The book's title must be included when sharing the above content on social media.
After the incident with the calf, Aaron must have been aware of the seriousness of his failure.