Aaron, the brother of Moses and Miriam, was from the tribe of Levi. When God called Moses to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, Aaron became his spokesman (Exodus 4: 14-16). Under Moses’ direction Aaron performed miracles with his rod. In one case his rod turned into a serpent which swallowed the rods of the Egyptian magicians (Exodus 7: 8-12).
Along with Moses, Aaron received God’s instructions regarding the institution of the first Passover (Exodus 12: 1-20). Aaron held an important position of leadership as one of Moses’ assistants. While in the wilderness he assisted Moses in keeping order and rendering judgments over the people (Numbers 15: 32-36). When Israel battled Amalek and his forces, Moses and Hur helped Moses hold up his rod so that Israel would prevail (Exodus 17: 11-13). Moses and Aaron became the main objects of the people’s murmuring because of the harsh conditions of the wilderness (Numbers 14: 2). When Korah, Dathan, Abiram and others opposed Moses and Aaron, Aaron’s intercession stopped the plague (Numbers 16).
Aaron Consecrated as High Priest
Moses consecrated Aaron as the first high priest of Israel and Aaron’s four sons as the under-priests (Exodus 28, 28) (Leviticus 8, 9). Aaron was given special robes to wear (Leviticus 8: 7-9), and he initiated the sacrificial system that God had revealed to Moses (Leviticus 1-7). Aaron’s two oldest sons, Nadab and Abihu, offered “strange fire before the LORD” (Leviticus 10: 1). The Lord put them to death for their disobedience (Leviticus 10: 2), but Moses instructed Aaron and his sons that they were not to mourn for them (Leviticus 10: 6, 7). Aaron supervised the service of the tabernacle, and he and his sons were given certain Levites as their assistants (Numbers 4).
Although Aaron was chosen by God and bore great responsibility for the spiritual leadership of the nation, he committed some grievous sins. At Mount Sinai, while Moses was on the mountain receiving the commandments, the people demanded that Aaron make gods for them to worship. Aaron made a golden calf for them (Exodus 32: 1-8) which greatly angered the Lord, and he was saved from God’s wrath only because Moses interceded on his behalf (Deuteronomy 9: 20).
On another occasion Aaron and Miriam spoke against Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman, but their opposition was primarily because of their jealousy of Moses. The Lord judged both of them, especially Miriam. Aaron confessed his sin and pleaded with Moses to intercede with the Lord on her behalf (Numbers 12).
When the people cried for water at Kadesh in the desert of Zin, the Lord instructed Moses how to bring forth water for the people. Moses disobeyed God’s instructions, and as a consequence, neither Moses nor Aaron were permitted to enter the promised land (Numbers 20: 7-13).
Toward the end of Aaron’s life, Moses took Aaron and Aaron’s son Eleazar to the top of Mount Hor, where he stripped Aaron of his high priestly garments and put them upon Eleazar. There Aaron died at the age of 123 years, and Israel mourned for him thirty days (Numbers 20: 22-29) (Numbers 33: 39).
Despite Aaron’s faults, in the end he undoubtedly proved faithful to God, and will have a position as one of the princes in all the earth during Messiah’s Reign (Isaiah 45: 16). He is also an example to us, to not allow our faults to discourage us, but to continue pressing along on our Christian course to the end.
Aaron Typical of Christ
Aaron is a picture of Christ Jesus, the Church’s High Priest, and his sons picture the Church, the Under-Priesthood. Because of inherited sin, during the Gospel Age Jesus as High Priest reconciles God and the faith class, by making God pleased with the repentant, believing and consecrated one, and making the justified and consecrated one pleased with God.
In a larger sense, Aaron pictures Jesus and His Church as the world’s High Priest, both during the Gospel Age and during the coming Mediatorial Reign of Christ. During the Gospel Age, Jesus and the Church have performed the antitypical sacrificing, whereas during the Millennial Age they will reconcile God and the world, by making God pleased with the world, and making the world pleased with God.