Numbers 16:47
And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the middle of the congregation; and, behold, the plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people.
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(47) And ran into the midst of the congregation.—The whole occasion was an extraordinary one. On ordinary occasions incense might only be offered on the golden altar within the holy place in which the priests ministered.

16:41-50 The gaping earth was scarcely closed, before the same sins are again committed, and all these warnings slighted. They called the rebels the people of the Lord; and find fault with Divine justice. The obstinacy of Israel notwithstanding the terrors of God's law, as given on mount Sinai, and the terrors of his judgments, shows how necessary the grace of God is to change men's hearts and lives. Love will do what fear cannot. Moses and Aaron interceded with God for mercy, knowing how great the provocation was. Aaron went, and burned incense between the living and the dead, not to purify the air, but to pacify an offended God. As one tender of the life of every Israelite, Aaron made all possible speed. We must render good for evil. Observe especially, that Aaron was a type of Christ. There is an infection of sin in the world, which only the cross and intercession of Jesus Christ can stay and remove. He enters the defiled and dying camp. He stands between the dead and the living; between the eternal Judge and the souls under condemnation. We must have redemption through His blood, even the remission of sins. We admire the ready devotion of Aaron: shall we not bless and praise the unspeakable grace and love which filled the Saviour's heart, when he placed himself in our stead, and bought us with his life? Greatly indeed hath God commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, Ro 5:8.A striking proof of the efficacy of that very Aaronic priesthood which the rebels had presumed to reject. The incense offering which had brought down destruction when presented by unauthorised hands, now in the hand of the true priest is the medium of instant salvation to the whole people. Aaron by his acceptable ministration and his personal self-devotion foreshadows emphatically in this transaction the perfect mediation and sacrifice of Himself made by Christ. 41. the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the Lord—What a strange exhibition of popular prejudice and passion—to blame the leaders for saving the rebels! Yet Moses and Aaron interceded for the people—the high priest perilling his own life in doing good to that perverse race. Ran into the midst of the congregation; hazarding his own life to obey God, and to do this wicked people good. And Aaron took as Moses commanded,.... A censer with fire in it from the altar, and also incense:

and ran into the midst of the congregation: though a man in years and in so high an office, and had been so ill used by the people; yet was not only so ready to obey the divine command, but so eager to serve this ungrateful people, and save them from utter destruction, that he ran from the tabernacle into the midst of them:

and, behold, the plague was begun among the people; he saw them fall down dead instantly in great numbers:

and he put on incense; upon the fire in the censer, which though it was not in common lawful to burn but in the holy place on the altar of incense, yet, upon this extraordinary occasion, it was dispensed with by the Lord, as it had been the day before when he offered it at the door of the tabernacle with the two hundred fifty men of Korah's company; and perhaps the reason of it now was, that the people might see Aaron perform this kind office for them, and give them a fresh convincing proof of his being invested with the office of priesthood from the Lord, or otherwise he could have done this in its proper place, the sanctuary:

and made an atonement for the people; by offering incense, which God smelt a sweet savour in, and accepted of, and his wrath was appeased and the plague stayed: in this Aaron was a type of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of his mediation, atonement, and intercession; wrath is gone forth from God for the sins of men, which is revealed in the law; and death, the effect of it, has taken place on many in every sense of it, corporeal, spiritual, and eternal: Christ, as Mediator, in pursuance of his suretyship engagements, has made atonement for the sins of his people by the sacrifice of himself; and now ever lives to make intercession for them, which is founded upon his sacrifice and satisfaction, his sufferings and death, signified by the fire in which the incense was put.

And Aaron took as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the congregation; and, behold, the {s} plague was begun among the people: and he put on incense, and made an atonement for the people.

(s) God had begun to punish the people.

Punishment of the Murmuring Congregation. - The judgment upon the company of Korah had filled the people round about with terror and dismay, but it had produced no change of heart in the congregation that had risen up against its leaders. The next morning the whole congregation began to murmur against Moses and Aaron, and to charge them with having slain the people of Jehovah. They referred to Korah and his company, but especially to the 250 chiefs of renown, whom they regarded as the kernel of the nation, and called "the people of Jehovah." They would have made Moses and Aaron responsible for their death, because in their opinion it was they who had brought the judgment upon their leaders; whereas it was through the intercession of Moses (Numbers 16:22) that the whole congregation was saved from the destruction which threatened it. To such an extent does the folly of the proud heart of man proceed, and the obduracy of a race already exposed to the judgment of God.
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