Growing up, I thought people like Moses, Aaron, David, Samson, and Elijah were the heroes of the Bible. They are not. The Bible has one hero—Christ. All the other key characters God uses—and uses mightily to change the world, by the way—are filled with complex sin, moral collapse, and obtuse immaturity.
Aaron, Israel’s first High Priest, is no exception. We meet him when he becomes stammering Moses’s mouthpiece—speaking hard words to a hardened Pharaoh. He serves alongside Moses throughout the Exodus from Egypt, holding up Moses’ arms both literally and figuratively.
Aaron saw the power of God firsthand in ways few others in Scripture ever witnessed. God set Aaron and his family apart to serve as Israel’s priesthood—the people who would stand in as mediators between God and man. They were imperfect versions of what Christ would do perfectly.
Aaron’s failures were epic. He led the people in crafting a golden calf to worship when it seemed Moses would not be coming down from Mount Sinai any time soon. Then he denied personal responsibility with one of the greatest lines of obfuscation in Scripture, “I threw [the gold] into the fire, and out came this calf” (Ex 32:24).
And yet, God continued to work through Aaron and his family. They continued to serve as priests for the people of God, offering sacrifices on Israel’s behalf, teaching them God’s Law, and maintaining a culture of worship.
But there was only so much an imperfect priest could do. They could warn Israel of their sin. They could remind them of their past histories with idolatry. They could take them through the stories of the generations before who had, without exception, all at one point or another embraced the gods of their neighboring countries. They could implore, threaten, pray, and appeal. They could pound their fists on their pulpit. They could plead from their knees. They could sing in the sweetest whisper of a lullaby.
But one thing they could not do. They could not make Israel holy. They could warn them of their proclivity to sin, but they could not take it from them. They could vividly predict their certain coming guilt, but the priest could not take it away. They could lead many of the sons of Israel to think, but they could not lead any sons to glory (Heb 2:9-10). Only Christ could do that—our truer and better High Priest, the hero of Scripture. And this is exactly what He does.
Written by Russ Ramsey