1. one who intervenes between two, either in order to make or restore peace and friendship, or form a compact, or for ratifying a covenant
Solving mysteries are fun especially after spending years in pursuit of the answer to the riddle. Today I am going to share a riddle that I had for over ten years that God finally provided the answer. In this article I am going to juxtapose two different events in the Old Testament and try to reconcile the answer, “Why didn’t Moses and Aaron go into the promised land?”
The first event is in the Wilderness when Moses leaves the people to commune with God on the mountain. This narrative is from Exodus 32
32 And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him.
2 And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me.
3 And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron.
4 And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
Why a golden calf? The calves were worshiped in Egypt so they learned this worship practice from the Egyptians.
5 And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.
6 And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
7 And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou brought out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves:
8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
9 And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiff necked people:
10 Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.
11 And Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand?
12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people.
13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swore by thine own self, and said unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it forever.
Moses is an amazing Man of God. God told Moses that these are your people and Moses told God that these are your people. Then he reminds God that if he destroys them all then the Egyptians will have reason to mock him. He also reminds him of the Abraham promise. Moses had a rare boldness that I greatly admire.
14 And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.
15 And Moses turned, and went down from the mount, and the two tables of the testimony were in his hand: the tables were written on both their sides; on the one side and on the other were they written.
16 And the tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, graven upon the tables.
17 And when Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said unto Moses, There is a noise of war in the camp.
18 And he said, It is not the voice of them that shout for mastery, neither is it the voice of them that cry for being overcome: but the noise of them that sing do I hear.
19 And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.
20 And he took the calf which they had made, and burnt it in the fire, and ground it to powder, and strawed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it.
Men of God are called to address uncomfortable issues and take action when walking with God. This means that the Word of God has to be above everything (pride, comfort, relationship, fear, etc.)
21 And Moses said unto Aaron, What did this people unto thee, that thou hast brought so great a sin upon them?
22 And Aaron said, Let not the anger of my lord wax hot: thou know the people, that they are set on mischief.
Aaron is in blame shifting mode saying “You know these people always want to engage in mischief”. Notice his lack of accountability as a leader.
23 For they said unto me, Make us gods, which shall go before us: for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we know not what is become of him.
24 And I said unto them, whosoever hath any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it me: then I cast it into the fire, and there came out this calf.
Aaron asserts that his only involvement is that he cast the gold into the fire and out popped this golden calf. Even his admission is a bending of the truth. He was the engraver.
25 And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies 🙂
This hearkens back to Genesis 3 when Adam, after he sinned, admitted to God that he was naked and afraid. Sin will always make us naked to our shame.
26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.
Even after this sin Moses gave everybody the opportunity to have a change of heart.
27 And he said unto them, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor.
28 And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.
Stubbornness and rebellion are unacceptable to God and are worthy of death.
29 For Moses had said, Consecrate yourselves today to the Lord, even every man upon his son, and upon his brother; that he may bestow upon you a blessing this day.
30 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin.
Moses interceded on behalf of the people.
31 And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.
32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.
33 And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
34 Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them.
35 And the Lord plagued the people, because they made the calf, which Aaron made.
God knew that Aaron made the golden calf. We cannot hide from God. Words do not change the truth. We can call manure a rose but it still smells the same. Aaron broke the first 2 commandments
- Thou shall not have any God’s before me
- Thou shalt not make any graven images to worship
Now let’s look at the second event in this study. In Numbers 20
2 And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.
3 And the people chided with Moses, and spoke, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!
4 And why have ye brought up the congregation of the Lord into this wilderness, that we and our cattle should die there?
5 And wherefore have ye made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink.
The people murmur and complain that Moses brought them out of Egypt to die reminiscing that Egypt was a much better place.
6 And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they fell upon their faces: and the glory of the Lord appeared unto them.
7 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.
9 And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him.
10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
12 And the Lord spoke unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
Moses was to speak to the rock but instead he chided the people, and then struck the rock twice. This was disobedience. However, after Aaron broke the first two commandments he was still headed to the Promised Land. Was this disobedience worse than making the golden calf? I struggled with this until God showed me 1 Timothy 2
5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
There it is. Jesus Christ is our mediator that saves us from wrath. In the first event Aaron sinned and deserved the wrath of God (including not going into the Promised Land) but Moses was the mediator that saved him from God’s wrath. In the second event Moses and Aaron both sinned and there was no mediator so their judgement was not going into the Promised Land. It wasn’t that one event was more sinful than the other. The difference was whether a mediator was present or not. Thank God that Jesus Christ is always our mediator because we need it.