Thursday after Exaudi
Scripture: Numbers 16:41—17:13 (NKJV)
16:41 On the next day all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, saying, “You have killed the people of the LORD.” 42 Now it happened, when the congregation had gathered against Moses and Aaron, that they turned toward the tabernacle of meeting; and suddenly the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared. 43 Then Moses and Aaron came before the tabernacle of meeting. 44 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 45 “Get away from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment.” And they fell on their faces. 46 So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a censer and put fire in it from the altar, put incense on it, and take it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from the LORD. The plague has begun.”
47 Then Aaron took it as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the assembly; and already the plague had begun among the people. So he put in the incense and made atonement for the people. 48 And he stood between the dead and the living; so the plague was stopped. 49 Now those who died in the plague were fourteen thousand seven hundred, besides those who died in the Korah incident. 50 So Aaron returned to Moses at the door of the tabernacle of meeting, for the plague had stopped.
17:1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and get from them a rod from each father’s house, all their leaders according to their fathers’ houses—twelve rods. Write each man’s name on his rod. 3 And you shall write Aaron’s name on the rod of Levi. For there shall be one rod for the head of each father’s house. 4 Then you shall place them in the tabernacle of meeting before the Testimony, where I meet with you. 5 And it shall be that the rod of the man whom I choose will blossom; thus I will rid Myself of the complaints of the children of Israel, which they make against you.” 6 So Moses spoke to the children of Israel, and each of their leaders gave him a rod apiece, for each leader according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods; and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. 7 And Moses placed the rods before the LORD in the tabernacle of witness.
8 Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds. 9 Then Moses brought out all the rods from before the LORD to all the children of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod. 10 And the LORD said to Moses, “Bring Aaron’s rod back before the Testimony, to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put their complaints away from Me, lest they die.” 11 Thus did Moses; just as the LORD had commanded him, so he did. 12 So the children of Israel spoke to Moses, saying, “Surely we die, we perish, we all perish! 13 Whoever even comes near the tabernacle of the LORD must die. Shall we all utterly die?”
Between death and life stands one man. The wrath of God against sin is advancing upon the people, bringing the death that each one deserves because of his sin against God. The man who stands between the living and the dead is God’s priest. God hears the prayer, sees the atonement offered on behalf of the faithful, and His wrath is appeased; the plague of death is over.
By this depiction of Aaron, God gives to us a clear depiction of the life, and the death, of Jesus. In between death and life stands the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. Even as the wrath of God the Father is advancing against the sin of the world, the Son of God enters our world as man. Christ Jesus is the Great High Priest, offering the sacrifice that atones for the sins of all men; that atonement is Himself, laying down His life as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world. He suffers the full wrath of His Father—even the death we deserved—to end the plague of death. All who believe in Him who was crucified—and is risen!—may dare to stand before Almighty God, laying claim to God’s mercy upon the faithful for the sake of the atoning sacrifice of His own Son. God has seen the atonement offered by our Great High Priest, and His wrath against you is appeased. You now stand among the living forevermore!