Recently the Mission Committee has been reading updates from missionaries and lamenting how few people in the church see these important and often uplifting updates. So, we have decided to add them to the website so others can find them here. We will be posting here each Tuesday. Of course, we don’t receive missionary updates every week, so we also want to take advantage of this space for things like devotional thoughts, suggestions of helpful resources, and book reviews.
We hope this space will be helpful to you as you find useful things for your walk of faith, and you learn more about and pray for the work of missionaries we support. If, over the next few months, you find something we have posted here helpful or encouraging or educational please let us know.
Check back next Tuesday for an update from the Pauls!
For now, a devotional thought. I was recently preparing for high school Sunday school and was looking through Numbers for a particular story. In the process, I came across Numbers 16, which I suspect someone recently added to my Bible. I’m joking, of course, but it is one of those stories I don’t really remember ever encountering before. I’m sure I have, but I had forgotten it. I won’t quote it in its entirety here but take a moment and read the chapter. Seriously, I will wait.
Now that you are refreshed on the story, you know that it is about a rebellion against the leadership of Moses and the priesthood of Aaron and God’s justice. I vaguely remembered a story about the ground opening and swallowing a group of people, but I could not have told you that it happened because of their leadership of a rebellion. The part of the story I didn’t remember at all was the very end, where God sent a plague upon the people and Moses sends Aaron out into the people with his censer to stop the plague. The line that hit me is verses 47b and 48, “The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped.”
Recently I preached on the idea of all of scripture leading to Jesus. This is a clear example of that idea. The people had sinned against God, insulting and rejecting his chosen leader and attempting to go their own way. Aaron and Moses must have really been sick of the people grumbling against them and fighting their leadership. I would have understood if they had simply allowed the plague to sweep through the people. However, they loved the people they led, so Aaron stepped into the gap between the living and the dead in order to save them. Think about that moment. The plague is spreading through the camp and people are dropping dead and Aaron walks out and stands in the way, stands next in line to receive the plague, and makes atonement for the people.
The imagery of Jesus is clear here. Jesus does something very similar in his death. He stands in the gap for us between life and death. We are doomed to death for the sins we have committed, but he jumps into our spot in line. He dies the death we deserve and, in the process, makes true, complete atonement for us. The people Aaron atoned for would sin and become unclean again. They would properly deserve God’s punishment again, but Jesus is our true high priest. When he makes us clean and pure, we stay that way. Sure, we still sin. We cannot be perfect on this side of New Creation, but every time we fall Jesus cleanses and purifies us. His blood covers all our sins – past, present, and future.
Aaron, the failed priest who messes up his job many times, makes a clear image of Jesus, the ultimate, sinless priest. He gives us a glimpse in Numbers 16 of the God we encounter in scripture, who steps into the place of death in order to make atonement for us. Thanks be to God for his generous love!
If you are interested in more about this idea, check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_OlRWGLdnw&ab_channel=BibleProject
- Pastor Bryan