Two Brothers + An Over-told Story That Taught Me a New Lesson Pt. 1

Wo! I just read Exodus 31-33ish and it was some stuff that blew my mind! Before diving in I want to note that many of these thoughts are from reading the scripture as well as Matthew Henry’s commentary…so many of these thoughts are paraphrased as my understanding from some of his writings as well as scripture.

In these chapters, God was specifically telling Moses about the very special and honorable and high calling He had for his brother Aaron. Aaron was to be set apart as a high priest and all his sons after him were to have this calling. What a calling on someone’s life! But wow the sequence of events to follow. This first of three posts will summarize the sequence of events and insights gleaned from it.

A little back story is that Aaron had just encountered multiple amazing, undeniable God experiences. As Moses’s brother and right hand man, he literally was used by God to do many of the signs and wonders with his own hands and staff before Egypt – the events that led to Pharaoh letting them leave (Exodus 7). It was Aaron’s staff – not Moses’s – whose staff became a serpent before Pharaoh and swallowed the magicians’ and sorcerers’ serpents up. It was Aaron’s outstretched arms who turned the waters of Egypt to blood, his hands stretched out and brought the plague of frogs and then brought the plague of gnats. He’d just seen God use him to perform miracles, to send plagues against Egypt while also distinctively preserving and sparing the people of Israel, and he’d seen God provide miraculous deliverance leading them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13), parting the sea (Exodus 14), creating drinkable water out of a rock and providing food in the wilderness (Exodus 17). He also was one of the two holding Moses’s arms up to God and witnessed God’s intervention that led to battle victory over the Amalekites (Exodus 17). And as if that weren’t enough evidence to authenticate God’s existence and power, the entire people of Israel just watched a mountain shake as they audibly heard God speak and call Moses up to the mountain.

So flash forward to the mountain top experience for Moses. While much of the talk would be about the law and instruction regarding the tabernacle, a substantial portion of the conversation concluding Moses’s time up there was about Aaron and how God has a high, specific, and purposeful calling on his life. But meanwhile, the people forgot God and assumed that Moses was gone, so they cried out for Aaron to make a god for them. I should know this story inside and out but was actually surprised at Aaron’s role in the horrible decisions that followed. Did Aaron remind them of God? Did he rebuke them or stutter in his answer? No! The Bible simply records a very willing and participating Aaron who actually led the charge on creating and worshipping the golden calf.

How could someone with such an incredible assurance of God in his life, such previous experience of His goodness and faithfulness, turn so quickly and do something so opposite? So against God? Have you ever found yourself in Aaron’s shoes? Where you have experienced God in a powerful, personal, undeniable way in your life and then found yourself doing the unthinkable? In her book  Arm Yourself Against the Enemy’s Schemes: A Taste of When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, Beth Moore suggests that actually after a personal failure or a spiritual victory is often when we are incredibly vulnerable to fall to an attack of the enemy. So, this is not as surprising as it seems when we know how Satan can attack us… but to the one caught in the schemes and finding themselves in a situation against everything they once stood for, it can totally catch you off guard. If this has never been you, perhaps you have you been like Moses and known an Aaron or an Israelite in your life who has seen or possibly experienced God but chose to chase after other things. I think of a few things about this in particular about Moses and Aaron –

1.) Moses knew of Aaron’s calling, Aaron did not yet know God had this awesome continued plan for Him. Moses was enraged to say the least to learn what was going on when he got back. As a bystander, it can be heartbreaking and enraging to be so sure that God has great things in store for someone you love, they hold so much potential, and then you look and they are drowning in ungodly strongholds.

It can be so heartbreaking and frustrating (especially if their struggles affect you personally) to say the least to come off a mountain top experience with God like Moses and realize how broken the world is. From an experience of everything good, true and right to everything corrupt, twisted and provoking. In much of how Moses responds (some right ways some wrong ways), we see that – as a light for Christ and thus ministers to those we love and influence – our role is to help “expose the greatness of sin”. We can only help reveal the wickedness, but we are helpless to fix it for anyone. The truth we hold  can only help expose, but it cannot fix the situation. Similarly, the Ten Commandments and the law of Moses cannot make us righteous…it can only make us knowledgeable of our sin, but the laws will never cure anyone of sin. The cure for sin is only found in the atonement and acceptance of the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. (Matt Henry)

2.) Aaron had not yet known God had a high and purposeful calling on his life for his future, BUT he had seen God use him and work in his life. And as the one in the middle of the struggle, sometimes we don’t know of what God has planned and we lack vision for ourselves and do not seek God with all our hearts which leads to abundant opportunities for temptation. Where there is no vision, the people perish (Prov. 29:18). Aaron could have and should have, – and if he would – have stood firm in what He already knew and experienced of and with God, and fled temptation and sought God with all his heart, he most likely would not have gotten lured or wrapped up in something so far off from what God wanted for him. Not to mention his actions led and encouraged many others to go astray.

So here they are – Moses frustrated and enraged, and Aaron leading a charge against everything he’d just witnessed. What’s a brother to do? We’ll look at their responses and some powerful insight on each brother’s situation in the next post.

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