Numbers 20:25
The fortieth year of the Wanderings, remarkable in so many other respects, was remarkable also for this, that it witnessed the removal of the three great children of Amram, who had been the leaders of the nation from the time that the Lord began to plague the Egyptians till the day that the host removed from the camping-ground at Kadesh. Of the three, Miriam, seemingly the eldest, was the first to be removed. She died, and was buried at Kadesh, in the beginning of the year. Aaron. the elder of the brothers, followed in the fifth month. Lastly, Moses died at the end of the year. The surpassing fame of Moses has thrown that of Miriam and Aaron into the shade. Nevertheless, they were eminent both for sanctity and public usefulness. It was not the least of the Lord's benefits that they, as well as Moses, were spared to the people during so many years.

I. THE TERMS IN WHICH THE DEATH OF AARON IS FORETOLD (verse 23). Moses is the first to hear of the coming event; and there is something of wrath, or at least of displeasure, against both him and Aaron in the way in which it is announced: "Ye shall not enter the land, because ye rebelled against my word at Meribah." But the displeasure is only, as it were, a passing frown. There is in the words much more of loving kindness and tender mercy. Not only is the saintly high priest forewarned of his approaching departure, but this is done in terms at once most kindly in tone and strongly suggestive of hope regarding the future life. "Aaron shall be gathered unto his people." Christian readers have always, as by a kind of instinct, taken this to mean that Aaron, upon his departure from this world, was to pass into the company of those who were his relatives in the truest and tenderest kindred - the patriarchs who had died in faith before him, the congregation of the righteous beyond the grave. The interpretation is distasteful to certain critics, who have persuaded themselves that in the Mosaic age the views and hopes of the best of men were bounded by the grave. It is easy to cite texts which seem to countenance that low estimate of the views which God had opened up to the early saints of the patriarchal and Mosaic times. But after all it is no better than a paradox, as hard to reconcile with historical fact as with the instinctive perceptions of devout readers of God's word. It is a familiar fact that the Egyptians, among whom Moses and Aaron were brought up, not only believed that men survive the dissolution of the body, but occupied their minds exceedingly about the other world. In the absence of clear and explicit statements to the contrary, we must suppose that Moses and Aaron knew at least as much as the Egyptians, and looked for a continued conscious existence after death. But we are not left to surmise. What can this "gathered unto his people" mean? It cannot mean "buried in the sepulcher where the ashes of his kindred lie," for in that sense neither Aaron nor Moses was ever gathered to his people. Each was buried in a Solitary grave. Nor can it mean merely" gathered to the mighty congregation of the dead" (although that also would imply continued existence after death), for the phrase is used in Scripture regarding none but the righteous (Genesis 25:8, 17; Genesis 35:29; Genesis 49:33, &c.). What then do we gather from this intimation?

1. There is, beyond the grave, a congregation of the righteous, where those who die in faith shall enjoy the congenial society of their own people - men and women like-minded with themselves. Surely a most comfortable thought I A great change has no doubt taken place in the view presented to faith of the future life ever since our blessed Lord rose and ascended. The ancient conception of the heavenly life has been thrown into the shade by the conception of it as being "for ever with the Lord." Yet the ancient conception has lost nothing either of its truth or of its power to comfort. A new source of comfort has now been added, but the old one has not been superseded. We who believe in Christ look forward not only to "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," but to" our gathering together unto him" (2 Thessalonians 2:1).

2. Into the congregation of the righteous God is careful to gather his people when they die. They are not driven away into darkness - dismissed like Judas to their own place. They are gathered; they are taken home: with care, that none be lost; with loving kindness also, that they may not fear.

II. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF AARON'S DEPARTURE.

1. He was divested of his office and robes before he died, and they were transferred to Eleazar in his sight. The priest was to die, but the priesthood was to live. The priesthood was entailed in Aaron's house, but the entail had not yet been confirmed by long transmission. To prevent any attempt to alter the succession, the transference took place while Aaron was yet alive. Probably there was an eye also to Aaron's comfort. It would be a satisfaction to him to see his son invested with office before he died.

2. Aaron's death and burial took place on Mount Her. This was, in the first instance, designed for publicity. Eleazar was to be high priest to the congregation. It was due to them that his investiture should take place in their sight (cf. Numbers 27:22). Ordination to a public office ought to take place in public. This particular mountain was chosen because from it Aaron's eye might descry the southern outskirts of the land of promise. Moses and Aaron were forbidden to enter it; but to each there was vouchsafed a distant prospect of it before he died.

REFLECTION. In this life good and evil are inextricably conjoined. Within the same town, in the same street, in the same congregation, in the same family, there are to be found believers and unbelievers, just and unjust, children of God and children of the wicked one. But hereafter there will come a great severance - lamentable separations, joyous reunions. The haters of God will be taken from among the just, and be dismissed to their own place. The lovers of God will be gathered to their own people, and sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom. This being so, it behooves me to ask myself the question, Who are my people? What is rite people whose likeness I bear, whose company is to me congenial, whoso tastes I share? - B.







Aaron died there in the top of the mount.
The first and most superficial aspect of death is that it is the close of an earthly career. What kind of career was it that was brought to a close when Aaron died? First of all, there could be no question as to its prominence. Aaron shares with Moses, though as a subordinate, the glory of having ruled and shaped the course and conduct of his countrymen at a time of unexampled difficulty, at a time pregnant with the highest consequences to the religious future of the world. But Aaron's place in religious history is more distinctly measured if we consider the great office to which he was called. He was the first of a long line of men who were at the head of what was for ages the only true religion in the world. He was the first high priest of the chosen people. Office, however, and position is one thing; character is another; and, if it is here that we find a great difference between the brothers, we must first of all remind ourselves that Aaron is called in Scripture "the saint of the Lord." He must have had a great background of those high qualities which go to make up the saintly character, if he also had defects which are recorded for our instruction. Aaron was morally a weak man. He had no such grasp of principle as would enable him to hold out against strong pressure. Nor is it inconsistent with this that Aaron could display obstinate self-assertion on inopportune occasions, as when he joined his sister Miriam in murmuring against Moses. This is exactly what weak people do; they give way when true loyalty to duty would teach them to resist, and then, haunted by the notion that they are weak, or at least that the world will think them so, they indulge in some form of spasmodic self-assertion which may remind us of the ungainly efforts that invalids will sometimes make to show that they are not quite so ill as their friends may think them. And now the end had come. Moses and Aaron both knew that Aaron would die. It may have been that some hitherto unsuspected disease had shown itself in the constitution of the old man; it may have been, as has been suggested, that a sand-storm in the Arabah had withered up his decaying vitality. That Aaron would die might have been known from observation, as God often speaks to us through the wonted changes of the world of nature. But Aaron and Moses also knew why Aaron was to die, and why on Mount Hor. If we knew enough, we should all of us know that there is a reason in the Divine mind for the hour at which, as for the means by which, every man and woman departs this life. We all are interested in ascertaining as exactly as we can the physical reason of the death of those relations whom God in His providence removes from our sight; but behind the physical reason there is a moral reason, if we could only know it; and we may say, with confidence, that, in the eyes of God, who is the perfect moral Being, the moral reason accounts for much more than the physical. Sometimes a life is prolonged to do one single piece of work which no other would do as well, and as soon as that work is done, that life is withdrawn. Sometimes a life is cut short because it has forfeited the particular privilege which an extension of some months or even weeks would bring to it, and this was the case of Aaron — "And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in Mount Hor, by the coast of the land of Edom, saying Aaron shall be gathered to his people, for he shall not enter into the land which I have given to the children of Israel because he rebelled against My word at the waters of Meribah." Aaron's share in the sin of Meribah was due to the same want of firmness which, as we have seen, was a feature in his character. The sin of Meribah was, in the first instance, the sin of Moses, when the people murmured at the want of water, and Moses, worried no doubt by their perverseness, in the very act of relieving them betrayed, both by what he said and by what he did, a temper unworthy of his high office, so that he did not sanctify the Lord God in the eyes of the people. As a later Psalmist reflects — "The people angered God at the waters of strife, so that He punished Moses for their sakes, because that they provoked his spirit so that he spake unadvisedly with his lips." As for Aaron, he not only did not check Moses, he acquiesced in what he must have known to be dishonourable to God; and this in a man with his spiritual responsibilities was a grave failure of duty. Much more, Moses bad forfeited that high privilege, but then the work which Moses had to do in the world was not yet done. But Aaron's appointed work was done, and there was no reason for delaying his summons. And here we are led to reflect on a subject which too often escapes notice. Many men, probably the majority of those who do not incur eternal loss, yet do from some flaw in the character, from some warp or weakness in the will, fall, more or less, greatly short of what they might have been, of what natural powers and spiritual endowments and religious and other opportunities might have made them even in this world; and if here, then also hereafter, even if by God's mercy in Christ we reach it, it may be to fill a lower rather than what might have been a higher place, but for some compliance with what conscience condemned, but for some act or some omission which has left upon the soul and the character that lasting impress which survives death. There is much to be noticed in the account of the close of Aaron's life, but nothing is more worthy of our notice than his deliberate preparation for it. He did not let death come on him, he went to meet it. The last scene was as much a matter of duty, a matter of business, as his consecration to the high priesthood Ah I death, surely, is like a mountain-top for the survey which it gives to life, and the deserts through which we have wandered, and the barriers which have checked our progress, and the hopes, bright or dim, which have cheered us on, and the feebleness and the fear of man, and the self-seeking, and the petty vanity (if nothing worse) which have spoiled so much that God meant for Himself, standout in clear outlines above the haze of the distant past. Doubtless it was with Aaron as with any man who retains, along with a conscience that has not been seared, the free exercise of the mind's powers in those last solemn moments which precede the greatest of all changes — doubtless, it was with him as with others upon whom their position and work in life have entailed great responsibility for the real and lasting happiness or misery of their fellow men. At such times the simply conventional no longer satisfies. At such times standards of conduct that are natural to human sanction are seen to be no longer applicable, the mental eye sees through and beyond the phrases which inclination or passion have hitherto interposed between it and the past. It sees the past more nearly, not as self-love has wished it to be, but as it was. At such times the higher a man's place in the government, or the social fabric of the state, or in the hierarchy of the Church, the more sincerely must he breathe the prayer, "If Thou, Lord, shouldest be extreme to mark what is done amiss, O Lord, who may abide it?" But time was passing. The last moments were now at hand; so Moses, acting, as we know, under Divine instructions, stripped Aaron of his garments, and put them upon Eleazar his son. There was, no doubt, a two-fold motive in this act of Moses. It showed, first of all, that the office of the high priesthood did not depend on the life of any single man, that God was watching over the religious interests of His people, that His gifts and calling were, as the apostle says, "without repentance, without recall," and that He provides for the due transmission of those spiritual faculties which have been given that they may sustain the higher life of man from age to age. But it also reminded Aaron personally of the solemn truth of the utter solitariness of the soul in death. Not more than any other man can a high priest retain the outward position, the valued symbols, of his great office. He, too, shall carry nothing away with him when he dieth, neither shall his pomp follow him. Death strips us of everything save that which, so far as we know, is by God's appointment strictly indestructible. Our undying personality and that type of character which acts and habits and the use or misuse of the supernatural grace of God have, for good or for evil, wrought into its very texture — this is indeed for ever ours. All else is, like the sacerdotal robes of Aaron, to be abandoned, at the place where, at the moment when, we lie down to die. It was all over. Aaron had closed his eyes, and Moses buried him where at this day a Moslem shrine, constructed out of the ruins of some earlier and finer edifice, still bears his name. It was all over, and like a procession returning from a funeral without the one object which had formed its chiefest interest, Moses and Eleazar, so we are told, came down from the mount. What were their thoughts about Aaron? Where was he now? "Aaron," so runs the phrase of Moses, "was gathered to his people." What does the phrase mean? It is used alike of Moses and Aaron. Does it describe only the interment of their bodies? But in either case their bodies rested at a distance from their people, in a foreign soil. Surely, it points to a world in which the bygone generations of men still live, a world of the existence of which God's ancient people were well assured, though they knew much less of it than we. That world beyond the grave is no doubt presented with different degrees of clearness in the successive ages of Old Testament history. The age of the patriarchs is marked by strong and distinct faith in it. In the days and teaching of Moses it is more kept in the background, probably because the imagination of Israel was still haunted by the imagery of the underworld of the dead, as the Egyptians had conceived of it. In Job and some of the Psalms it is the subject sometimes of anxious discussion, sometimes of strong and undoubting faith. In the prophets it comes prominently forward as the promised Messiah, heralded not merely as an earthly ruler, but as a deliverer from the consequences of sin. In Ezekiel and Daniel we already meet with the resurrection of the body; in the writers after the captivity this doctrine goes hand in hand with a distinct faith in the immortality of the soul. We cannot doubt that, as Moses and Eleazar made their way down the western side of the mount on which Aaron was left, their thoughts were not only or chiefly centred on the tomb which enclosed his body; they followed him into the assembly of the spirits of the dead, they followed him with their sympathies, with their hopes, their prayers, even though around that world on which he had entered there still hung a veil for them which has been, through Christ's mercy, removed for us. The Old Testament is sometimes a foreshadowing of the new, sometimes its foil. If Aaron was stripped of his sacerdotal robes on the eve of his death, Jesus our Lord was never more a priest than when He hung upon His Cross, and offered Himself as a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world. If Aaron's dust still lies somewhere among the rocks of Hor, awaiting the summons to judgment, Jesus is indeed risen from the dead, "and become the first fruits of them that slept," nay, He has already, He has here, "brought life and immortality to light" through His gospel, He has taught us that there is a life which through His grace we may live, and the beauty of which our hearts cannot but own, while yet that life does but mock us if it ends at death, if it does not last, if it does not expand, hereafter. Be has shown us how this life may be, if at present it is not ours, and in possessing it we are already and most assuredly "more than conquerors" of death "through Him that loved us."

(Canon Liddon.)

I. THE DEATH OF AARON.

1. As a consequence of sin.

2. By the appointment of God.

3. The death of Aaron was his introduction to life and to congenial society.

II. THE APPOINTMENT OF AARON'S SUCCESSOR.

1. Kindness to Aaron. It assured him —

(1)That his office would be filled, his work carried on, &c.

(2)That his office would be filled by his own son ; that the high priesthood would continue in his own family.

2. A guarantee of the continuance of the Church of God.

III. THE MOURNING BECAUSE OF AARON'S DEATH.

1. The worth of faithful ministers.

2. The appreciation of blessings when they are withdrawn from us, which were not valued when they were ours.Lessons:

1. The universality of death.

2. The imperfection of the Aaronic priesthood.

3. The perfection of the priesthood of Christ (Hebrews 7:22-28; Hebrews 8:6; Hebrews 9:23-28; Hebrews 10:10-14).

(W. Jones.)

I. THE TIME. In the fortieth year of the wanderings.

1. A very important year in the history of Israel. Year of death also of Miriam and of Moses. Dates that mark formation of new or severance of old friendships, always important.

2. In about the 123-4 year of Aaron's life. A long and eventful life. And yet, though his life was long —(1) His death was hastened by sin. How often should we discover this to be the case if we knew all! Religion the best life-preserver.(2) His death overtook him in the midst of work.

II. THE WARNING. Many pass away without any warning. Duty of being always ready. In this case, a solemn intimation that the time appointed had come. It was kindly framed. "Gathered unto his people." An old man's best friends — his people — are mostly in the better world. Aaron invited to join his people; the great ones amongst whom he ranked.

III. THE PLACE. A mountain. Reminds us that the good man in death is in death lifted up above the world ; and that, as Aaron at that time, he dies in view of the Church below and the Church above. Israel around, and the promised land before him.

IV. THE CIRCUMSTANCES. Toilsomely and calmly ascends the hill to be gathered to his fathers. The old man climbing the last of life's hills. The last stage a rugged one.

V. THE CHARACTERISTICS. A death —

1. Hastened by sin.

2. Closing all earthly offices and distinctions.

3. Heralded by solemn intimations.

4. Sweetened by presence of friends.Learn —

1. A good man in dying is gathered to his people.

2. Seek to live on the borders of heaven that we may die in view of the promised land.

3. Endeavour to do what we have to do while it is called to-day.

(J. C. Gray.)

I. We may learn a salutary lesson from the death of Aaron in ITS MERELY LITERAL BEARING. Aaron, the high priest, had to ascend Mount Hor clad in his priestly robes of office; but he must be stripped of them there, because he must die there. He could not carry his dignity or the emblems of it into the next world. He must lay them down at the grave's brink. There is nothing which the world gives that men can carry with them when death lays hold of them. Even all which outwardly pertains to spiritual dignity, and which brings .men into relation with things that are imperishable and eternal, must be left behind, and the individual man, as God's accountable creature, must appear before his Maker in judgment. There is one thing imperishable and one dignity which even death cannot tarnish. The imperishable thing is the life which the Spirit of God imparts to the soul, and which connects the soul with God. The deathless dignity is that of being children of God.

II. Aaron must be stripped of his robes, and HIS SON CLAD WITH THEM IN HIS STEAD. This reminds us that while the priests under the law were not suffered to continue by reason of death, yet the office of the priesthood did not lapse. Aaron's robes were not buried with him. His successor was provided. Yet the very thought that he needed a successor, that the office must be transmitted from one to another, leads us to think of the contrast which the apostle draws between the priests under the law and Him who abideth always. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.

(A. B. Davidson.)

I. THE COMMON DESTINY OF MAN. "Aaron," says God, "shall be gathered to his people." Death is spoken of here, not as a strange event, not as something peculiar to Aaron, but as something that had happened to Aaron's people, and would happen to all generations. Oh, the teeming myriads that preceded us, that carried on the works, the commerce, and the reforms of our world; all these, so far as the body is concerned — all dust!

II. THE RIGOROUSNESS OF MORAL LAW. Here is a man who had struggled hard for many years in the wilderness, a man filled with high hopes, with glowing enthusiasm, a man who was approaching the goal, approaching the Canaan; and yet mark how, because of one sin, he dies, and never reaches that blessed spot. However distinguished a man may be for his excellences, however high he may be in the Church of God, his sin shall not go unpunished.

III. THE TERMINATION OF LIFE IN THE MIDST OF LABOUR. We nearly all die with our work unfinished. The farmer dies when he has only half ploughed his field ; the merchant dies in the midst of some commercial enterprise to which he has committed himself; the statesman dies with some great political measure, perhaps, heavy on his hands; the minister dies with some schemes of thought in his brain unwrought out, some plans of usefulness undeveloped. That to me is a profound mystery. I should have thought that a man who had in his brain a great purpose to serve his race, to promote the truth, and to extend the kingdom of Christ, would have his life preserved, that he might realise his purpose. But it is not so. O God! we are not surprised when an old tree, though prolific in its day, dies, for it dies by the law of decay; nor are we astonished that an unfruitful tree should be cut down, for it is a cumberer of the ground; but we are astonished that a tree, with its branches full of sap, with its boughs laden with fruit, with thousands reposing under its shadow, should be struck with a thunderbolt from heaven. Thy path, O God, is "in the great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known."

IV. GOD'S AGENCY IN MAN'S DISSOLUTION. Why did Aaron die? He was not worn out with age. He was as vigorous, perhaps, at that moment, as anybody here. Not because there was disease rankling in his system, not because there was any external violence applied to him. Why, then, did he die? The Great One determines that he shall die, and he dies. And this, I take it, is always the philosophy of a man's death. We may ascribe it to that disease, to this accident, to this chance, to this occurrence ; but philosophy, the Bible, and reason all say, "man dies because the Great One has determined that he should die." If you will ascertain the term of a creature s existence, you can only do it accurately by ascertaining the will of the great God concerning his existence. The constitution has nothing whatever to do with the question. If God determines it, the most robust dies in a moment,

V. THE PROMPTITUDE WITH WHICH PROVIDENCE SUPPLIES THE PLACES OF THE DEAD. Aaron must die, but there is Eleazar standing by his side ready to step into his place. This is the order of Providence. A merchant dies, and another man stands by his side ready to carry on his business. A lawyer dies, and there is a man standing by his side ready in a moment to step into the place he occupied. A statesman dies, and Providence has a man exactly fitted for his position. Oh, how this encourages my faith in the progress of Divine truth in this world! I see missionaries die in the field, and ministers die in the Church; I see authors die who are moving the minds of men, and influencing them for their highest good; and sometimes I feel, now, surely there must be a pause. But no, there is another minister ready to take the departed minister's place. You labour, and other men enter into your labours; and when the mystery of godliness shall be finished, I believe the great series of workers will meet and mingle and rejoice together in the presence of the great common Father of us all. But whilst this encourages our faith, it is certainly humbling to our pride. The world can do without thee. Thou art but a blade in the field ; the landscape will bloom without thee. Thou art but a drop in the ocean; the mighty billows will not miss thee. Thou art not at all important.

VI. THE TRIAL OF HUMAN FRIENDSHIPS. Moses and Eleazar were very closely related to Aaron. Moses was more than a brother to Aaron. There was a spiritual kindredship between them. There were mental affinities and spiritual affections. Their hearts were welded together by tender feelings and associations, and yet part they must. Oh! I ask the question, leaving you to answer it. Can it be that the great God of love, who has made us to love, and who has disposed us to give our affections to certain men and persons, can it be that He intended that our love should lash within us such storms, and produce so many tears that we have to shed almost daily? The philosophy is here — these friendships are to be renewed. These losses and tears are only a passing storm, clearing the heavens. There is to be a renewal of real spiritual friendship. Eleazar, Moses, thou shalt meet that man whom thou art burying on Mount Hor again! The time is hastening on when a re-union shall take place, and separation never. After all, the separation which takes place in the death of true Christian friends is more in form than in reality — more an appearance than a fact. I have the idea that in truth we become more really friends by the death separation. Death cannot destroy our loving memories of them. Death does not kill — nay, it seems but to intensify our affections. Death seems to bring those who are gone more closely and more vitally into contact with our hearts. Death, I say, does not effect a real separation. Love photographs them in the soul.

VII. THE PAINFUL RECOGNITION BY SOCIETY OF ITS GREATEST LOSSES. The people mourned for Aaron thirty days. Well might they mourn. If we cannot weep over great and true hearts, over what can we weep? Good men are as fountains welling up in the desert through which you are passing; they are lights in abounding darkness; they are salt that counteracts our tendency to corruption. Thank God for good men! But the Christian minister is the best of all men, and his loss is the greatest of all losses. I know of no man who is rendering such a service to society and to humanity as he! Such was Aaron. He was a minister of God. He had to go in between the corrupt Jews and the Infinite, and to entreat upon their behalf; and more than once did his prayers avert the threatened judgment. Aaron was more than that; he was a speaker, an orator. His words sometimes fell as a thunder-peal upon the proud heart of Egypt's monarch; but they came down with rays of light, and as the gentle dew, upon the people of Israel. I can fancy Aaron talking to the people about God, about the coming Christianity, about the new dispensation, about the world to come. But he dies; and they mourn. I do not wonder at that. I should have been surprised if they had not wept when they know and felt, We shall see Aaron no more; he has ministered to us for many years, he has given consolation to our old men, a word of advice to the young men, and has talked to the children — and we shall see Aaron no more.

(D. Thomas.)

The comforts of Aaron's death here are these: The Lord appoints it so, and His will, as it is ever good, so should it ever be our content. Secondly, his son succeedeth him in his place, a great comfort. Thirdly, he shall be freed from all his toil, from all his grief, from an unkind people. Now shall he rest and have peace, and all grief from his heart, all tears from his eyes wiped quite away. "Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord, for they rest from their labours, and their works follow them." Let it be a comfort to all, and by name to God's ministers, that faithfully and zealously have watched over their flock, and have reaped but wrong and oppression. God hath His sweet time to release us, and to gather us to our people as He here did Aaron. He will care for our children as here for Aaron's, and put them in some place or other after us for their good in His great mercy, if we commend them to Him. Our labours shall not be lost with Him that rewardeth a cup of cold water. If we have "sowed in tears we shall reap in joy." Earth's woe shall be changed to heaven's bliss, and happy shall we be. Go on in comfort, be faithful unto the end, the Lord shall give us a crown of life.

(Bp. Babington.)

1. In these calm, almost cold, words, is told all that man is to know of an event full of interest, mystery, and awe. In that year 1452 (as chronologers say) before the Christian era, a life is brought to its close, which, but for one other life beside it, would have been unique in wonder. That old man who has gone up into Mount Hor, under Divine direction, to die, is God's high priest; the first of a long line, the only line that God ever consecrated to stand between Himself and His chosen people, in the things of religion and the soul, until He should at last come, who is the End of all Revelation and the Antitype of all Priesthood.

2. Aaron is shut out from Canaan for a fault, for a sin. Judged as man judges, it was a little sin. It was not the greatest of the sins even of this one life. But with God "great" and "little" have no place in the estimate of transgression.

3. The lesson of severity lies on the surface of the record.

4. There is here also the lesson of love. See how God chastens without disowning.

5. There is also the lesson of death. It is the fashion to say that the language of the Old Testament is cheerless about death. I cannot see it. These deaths for small sins seem to be eloquent as to the insignificance of death. They seem to say, "The life that is seen is but a fragment of the whole life."

6. Nothing is more pathetic in Holy Scripture than that selflessness which God requires in His servants; that absorption of natural feeling in the One higher, which is the perfection of self-control and the self-forgetfulness. Aaron himself had been enabled to rise to it, when he saw his two sons cut off before him, forbidden to mourn, forbidden to bury them. And now it is his brother's turn to take his part in bearing the burden which God's ministry lays upon them that are privileged to exercise it. Now he must strip his dying brother of the beautiful and costly vestments of his priesthood. He must array in them a new priest, who is to carry on God's work before a younger generation. And when the sad and solemn office is ended, he must turn back, with that other, to the thoughts and acts of the living, till he also shall have finished his course, and be ready to rejoin his brother in the Paradise of the just made perfect.

7. There are some forms of ministration which suggest succession. Those garments which are emblematical of office — the judge's ermine, worn only on the judgment-seat; the bishop's lawn, put on with prayer and benediction, in the midst of the ceremony of his consecration — speak for themselves as to the disrobing. The wearer had a predecessor, shall have a successor in that ministry. He is but the life-holder: less than the life-holder, for decay of strength may further abridge the tenure of that charge, towards God and man, which the vestment of office typifies. There must be that stripping of which the text speaks; that putting off that another may put on. Let him live in the foreview of that day.

8. Behold in one view the littleness and the greatness of man. The littleness in space and time. One generation goeth, and another cometh. Earth is a speck, and time a moment. But, view life as a trust — view office, view work, view character, view being, as a priesthood — and all is ennobled, all consecrated. Say to yourself, I am God's priest — I wear His ephod and His crown, and the inscription on that crown is, "Holiness unto the Lord" — then you are great; great above kings, who know not a hereafter; great above hierarchies which would shine in God's stead; your light is God's light, and the world shall be the brighter for it.

(Dean Vaughan.)

I. FAITH IN GOD IS THE REGULATING GRACE OF THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. So long as that is preserved, it will keep all other principles of our nature in restraint; but when that is lost, the brake is removed from the wheel, and everything goes wrong. The loss of faith leads to panic, and panic is utterly inconsistent with self-control. If we wish to overcome ourselves, then the victory is to be won through faith in God. Mere watchfulness will not suffice; but we must cultivate that confidence in God which believes that all things work together for good to them who love Him; which realises the universality of His providential administration as including the minutest as well as the vastest concerns of life ; and which has the unwavering assurance that we shall enter at last upon our heavenly inheritance.

II. HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO BE ALWAYS READY FOR DEATH. The death of Aaron was not altogether without warning, but in some sense it may be regarded as sudden. There were no premonitions of it in his bodily frame, else he could not have ascended Mount Hor; and when God's command came, it might take him, and probably did take him, by surprise. Yet he was not appalled, for he believed God, and that kept him in perfect peace. "What, sir," said a domestic servant, who was sweeping her doorstep, to young Spencer, of Liverpool, as he was hastening by, "is your opinion of sudden death?" He paused a moment; then saying, "Sudden death to the Christian is sudden glory," he hurried on; and in less than an hour afterward he was drowned while bathing in the Mersey.

III. THE PLACE AND POWER OF THE INDIVIDUAL IN THE ONWARD PROGRESS OF HUMAN SOCIETY.

1. Ministers and people die, but the Church abides, and carries still forward its beneficent work.

2. We are the heirs of all the preceding generations; and if we act well our part, we shall leave something additional of our own behind us, which shall enrich those who shall come after us. The tabernacle service went on without Aaron, it is true; but if Aaron had not gone before him, Eleazar would not have entered upon such a sphere of usefulness as that which now opened before him. If there bad been no Bacon, there might have been no Newton; and if there had been no Newton, our modern philosophers would not have been what they are.

3. What, then, is the lesson of all this? It is that each of us shall strive to do his utmost in the work to which God has called him, so that we may leave a higher platform for those who shall come after us.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

Aaron went up to die. Some die in seclusion and unknown; yet it matters not where the saints depart, whether on a mount or in a vale, though, as a typical character, this circumstance seemed to indicate the way of the "spirit, which riseth upwards," and the destiny of our whole humanity. To him dying was but ascending; and it will be so to all the Lord's people. The great Representative and Forerunner of the Church died on one mount, and ascended from another. Had not some great truth thereby been to be expressed, Aaron had not attired himself for death as though to enter the holy of holies. It can signify but little what he puts on who is about to lie down in the shroud of dissolution. Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return, said Job. Oh! how do some long for evening, to undress! " not that they would be unclothed, but clothed upon with their house which is from above." Yet the priest did not die, but the man. The transfer was made in life: the robes were taken from him while living, and not when dead. The Church was no moment without a priest and an offering.

(W. Seaton.).

Links
Numbers 20:25 NIV
Numbers 20:25 NLT
Numbers 20:25 ESV
Numbers 20:25 NASB
Numbers 20:25 KJV

Numbers 20:25 Bible Apps
Numbers 20:25 Parallel
Numbers 20:25 Biblia Paralela
Numbers 20:25 Chinese Bible
Numbers 20:25 French Bible
Numbers 20:25 German Bible

Numbers 20:25 Commentaries

Bible Hub
Numbers 20:24
Top of Page
Top of Page