It’s an obscure Old Testament scene that is rarely (if ever) preached, yet I found it fascinating. In it, some of the Israelites had grumbled to Moses about what they perceived as unfair treatment. They believed God had intended for more than just the Levites to serve as priests in the tabernacle.
Moses assured them that he had heard God correctly, and God backed Moses up by literally having the earth open up and swallow those who stood in opposition. Surprisingly, however, more of the Hebrews continued to argue against Moses and God. This time, God’s wrath was set to come against the entire Hebrew camp in the form of a rapidly-spreading and deadly plague.
Immediately upon seeing what was happening, Moses sent his brother, Aaron, out among the people to make atonement for their sin by burning incense. Listen to how Scripture records what happened next… “So he placed incense on the coals and made atonement for the people. He stood between the dead and the living, and the plague was stopped.” (Numbers 16:47-48).
As I thought about the scene, I realized that we have a lot in common with Aaron. No, we’re not fighting plagues with incense; but figuratively speaking, we do stand between a just God and sinful men who face an eternal judgment and certain spiritual death. Like Aaron, we hold the answer to their deadly plague in the form of God’s message of love and redemption available through Christ.
In that sense, we stand between the spiritually dead and living every day – but, are we concerned enough about those who are dying to share the gospel with them? –Dave
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