In today’s Bible study, I want to break down each one of the sections we read this week and then help you consider the different foreshadows of Christ through Aaron’s role as priest. First, a quick word of warning. While the Old Testament (law and the prophets) in general points to Christ, I think we can take this too far when we look at extremely tiny details and try to connect every single little thing to Christ. Be careful to not dig too deeply and make some unnecessary connections the authors didn’t intend.
There is so much going on here in these verses, but the focus of our study is on Aaron, so I’ll try to cover the context briefly and then bring the focus back to Aaron.
God reveals to Moses that He has chosen him to bring His people out of Egypt. Moses quickly begins to plead with God to use someone else. He brings out all of his excuses: they won’t believe or listen to me; I am not eloquent and never have been; I’m slow of speech and tongue. God’s answer to Moses’ objections are clear. God responds by saying, “I am the One who makes man’s mouth. Who makes man mute or deaf or blind? Isn’t that Me? Moses, stop looking to your abilities and rely on mine.” This should be a sweet reminder to us that, if God has called us to something, He is powerful enough to carry it out.
Moses then pleads one more time and there’s this interesting phrase in verse 14, “… the anger of the Lord was kindled against him and He said, ‘Is there not Aaron your brother the Levite?’”
I’m not exactly sure what the purpose is for God’s anger being revealed here. Is it simply to show a frustration God had with Moses’ lack of faith? Is it to say that Aaron would be a sort of penalty to Moses for his lack of faith? The scriptures do not really give us an answer. I often wonder if God’s allowing Moses to use Aaron has caused Moses to miss out on something greater that he may have experienced if he had had more faith and had been obedient instead of fearful. In any case, God’s final answer to Moses’ pleading is Aaron. Aaron, your brother, doesn’t have all of these things of which you’re afraid, Moses, so I will let you use your brother.
So, Aaron has finally come into the scriptures and is now on the scene as a part of God’s redemptive story. The first role, or job, given him by God is to be the mouthpiece of Moses—ultimately of God—to the people of God. God says in verses 15 and 16, essentially, that Aaron will speak for Moses and that God will be with both their mouths and teach them what to do.
The role that Aaron receives here is like that of the prophets; he is to be the mouthpiece of, or speak on behalf of, God. This is where we begin to clearly see some of the foreshadowing of Christ in Aaron and his role. It is not a stretch to see how Aaron’s being the mouth piece of God to save His people from slavery to Egypt can point toward Jesus (the Word who became flesh in John 1) as God, Himself, speaking to us and rescuing us from a far greater and eternal slavery to sin and death. We can see this more clearly in Hebrews 1:1-2: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
You can see the foreshadowing from Aaron to Christ in these verses as Aaron was a real reflection of, or precursor to, the prophets that would speak on behalf of God.
So, what’s going on here? Why are such details given in the making of the garments? What’s the point of setting aside Aaron and his sons for this? The answer is priesthood. In a rather unique way, God is trying to show the Israelites how magnificent the true high priest, namely Jesus, would be. Jesus is called the High Priest twelve times in the book of Hebrews and called priest about six more times. Jesus was pure, holy, and glorious—Aaron was not.
If Aaron and his family were to take on this role, they would have to take great pains to make him look as marvelous as possible. This was done in order to, in some small shadow-of-a-way, point to the beauty and magnificence of Christ. Notice that verse 2 says, “… you shall make a holy garment for him for glory and for beauty.” This is to point toward Jesus’ holiness, glory, and beauty.
What about this role of priesthood? The priest stood in the gap between God and His people. There was no access directly to God for most people. The role of priesthood was to give someone the ability to intercede for us. Jesus is our ultimate intercessor. He is the true high priest who stands in the gap between the beloved and God. We now have access to God because the true High Priest made the sacrifice for us with His very life. There were many roles of the priest. One was to make the sacrifice for the people of God to atone for sins. Christ Jesus was not only our High Priest, he was also the sacrifice, the spotless Lamb. This is why Aaron, and the role of the priesthood, is merely a shadow of what God had planned from before the ages to redeem His people through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Exodus 32:1-7, 21-35
Wow! How quickly we abandon the God of our salvation! These people have just watched God rescue them from Egypt and Pharaoh, and yet they freak out when Moses is gone for too long and they demand that Aaron make them a god. Isn’t that funny? How can man make a god?
So, what’s really interesting in this passage is that Aaron goes along with the people’s demands. What should Aaron have done? Why doesn’t he tell this people, “No, you can’t do this; this is unacceptable?” This whole scene is so similar to Adam and Eve’s debacle in the garden. Eve had wanted to be God—or wanted to be like God—so she had bought the serpent’s lie and ate the fruit. The Israelites want a god so badly that they demand Aaron make them one. Adam, who was supposed to protect Eve and be her spiritual leader, not only didn’t stop her but instead joined her and he ate, too. Aaron, who is supposed to intercede between the people and God and be their spiritual leader, not only doesn’t stop the people, he joins them in their sin.
You can even see the similarity in their responses when being rebuked for their actions. Adam had said, “the woman whom You gave me is to blame (essentially shifting the blame to God and the woman)”, while Aaron responded with, “the people made me do it, and the fire made the calf (blaming the people and the fire)”. Aaron is giving us a great example as to how badly we need Christ. Aaron not only reveals how perfect a representative for mankind Adam was, but how he, himself, fell terribly short of the intercession the people needed. Praise God for Jesus and His perfection!
Aaron and his sons were to have represented the true High Priest, Jesus. Notice how God responds when they do that in a way that is not according to God—He kills them immediately! God takes very seriously the glory and honor that are due Him.
Leviticus 10:3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord has said: ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’” And Aaron held his peace.
Such powerful words—God will be sanctified and glorified.
Do we take God’s glory this seriously in our lives? Notice the response of Aaron: “he held his peace.” Aaron should have been upset about the dishonoring of God! Having children of my own, I could not imagine this scenario. I can only understand some of the hurt that Aaron withheld over the situation. In a world of false teachers and false worshipers, it is only the grace of God that keeps them from being wiped off the face of the earth, or possibly it is the judgment of God who is storing up wrath for the sins they continue to commit.
Notice in verses 10 and 11, Aaron is to distinguish between the holy and common, the clean and unclean, holy and unholy, and to teach Israel all the statutes of the Lord. It is, therefore, Aaron’s job to teach what belongs to God (holy, clean) and what does not (common, unclean). We see this role done properly and perfectly in Christ. He came and taught these truths. But what’s more amazing is that through Him we, God’s beloved, are made holy and clean. All Aaron can do is teach these things, but Christ not only taught these truths, He applied them to us in a way no one else could, including Aaron.
Is this not what Christ did? Jesus is the only way anyone can be made clean and holy; without Him we all are unclean and common. Through this failure, on behalf of Aaron’s sons, God reiterates the role of the priesthood and the responsibilities of it.
Look at verse 17. What are the priests supposed to do? They are to bear the iniquity of the congregation and make atonement for their sins. Well, that doesn’t need much explanation. That is exactly what Christ did—He took the penalty for the sins of His people and made atonement through His life, death, and resurrection. Christ is the perfect Aaron, the perfect high priest who sacrificed Himself to set His people free!
God establishes who will carry on the priesthood until the coming of Christ. When God plagues Egypt and kills the firstborn of all the cattle and men, He passes over the firstborn of Israel, thereby setting the firstborn of all Israel as the servants in the sanctuary of God. However, after the golden calf incident, the Levites take the place of the firstborn. The Levites’ role is to minister and protect.
Christ says in John 10, “I am the good shepherd … I lay down my life for the sheep.” Christ protects His sheep with His very life. His being a shepherd would mean He ministers to His sheep, provides for them, cares for them, etc. The role given to the Levites is ultimately fulfilled in Christ.
There are many ways in which the priesthood, and Aaron, point to Christ. I hope the Old Testament is coming alive for you as you study. We must see all that God is doing in and through people like Aaron. Praise God that He prepared for the great high priest, Jesus Christ, to come and intercede for us in a way we never could.
Hebrews 7:23-25 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he [Jesus] holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Amen!
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC
*Special thanks to Steven Obert for his gospel partnership and help with this week’s devotional.