Saturday, October 20, 2012

Jesus Christ the forever standing mediator

Numbers 16:46-48 Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put in it fire from the altar, and lay incense on it; then bring it quickly to the congregation and make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the LORD, the plague has begun!” 47Then Aaron took it as Moses had spoken, and ran into the midst of the assembly, for behold, the plague had begun among the people. So he put on the incense and made atonement for the people. 48He took his stand between the dead and the living, so that the plague was checked.

Brief review from yesterday
Yesterday we demonstrated the comparisons between Jesus and Aaron, Israel's first high priest.  We noted that in nearly 30 verses of the book of Hebrews, Aaron and the priesthood of Old Testament Israel stands as a type, a shadow, a pattern, of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 5:4-5)

Quick background of Numbers 16 - A Nation with two tragedies
In Numbers 16, tragedy had struck the nation of Israel not once but twice.  In Numbers 16:1-40 we see the rebellion of Korah, the great grandson of Levi, leading 250 men to mutiny against Moses and Aaron.  God judges them, resulting in their falling live into hell after being swallowed up by the earth.

In Numbers 16:41-50, the rest of the congregation responds the next day, accusing Moses and Aaron of killing God's people.  The Lord wants to wipe out the nation, however Moses and Aaron intercede. This is the eighth prayer recorded in the book of Numbers.  In this particular intercession of Moses on behalf of the people, he instructs Aaron, his brother and Israel's high priest, to make atonement and stave off the plague that had at that point wiped out nearly 15,000 people.     What Aaron does as mediator between God and the people provides some striking foreshadowings of Jesus Christ - the Forever Mediator who stands between the people and God. 

1. Satisfaction is made  Numbers 16:46
Numbers 16:46 tells us that Aaron went as Moses instructed: "make atonement for them, for wrath has gone forth from the LORD"  To make atonement means to satisfy the wrath of God.  Thus Aaron, acting as a representative for the whole congregation, stood in the gap.  Only he and his actions could stop the plague of death.  Jesus Christ, the eternal High Priest, provided atonement, satisfaction (propitation) for the sins of the whole world that was to be applied to all who by grace through faith believe. (1 Timothy 4:10; 1 John 2:2).  Christ alone can protect the sinner from the plague of sin that leads to the second death - eternal punishment. (John 3:16)  Christ came to provide protection from the wrath of God that is coming on this world. (Romans 5:8-10; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).

2.Standing in the place of sinners Numbers 16:48b 
Numbers 16:48a states about Aaron: "48He took his stand between the dead and the living".  That phrase "He took His stand" refers to Aaron stationing himself, in firm resolve, not retreating until the wrath of God was complete.  Those rebels did not deserve Aaron's standing in their place, nonetheless he did it.  When Jesus Christ "took His stand", he did so not out of compulsion, but of His own accord. (John 10:17).  As the Good Shepherd He gave His life for the Sheep. (Acts 20:28).  He stood in the sinner's place - your place and mine, the innocent in place of the guilty, the wonderful in the place of the wicked - in order to bring us who believe unto God. (2 Coritnhains 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24, 3:18)

3. Shutting down the wrath of God  Numbers 16:48b
In the NASB the text reads in Numbers 16:48b - so that the plague was checked.   In the original Hebrew we could literally translated this last phrase: "so that the plague was shut down".  Think about how the sinner who believes on Jesus Christ is exempted from the wrath of God.  The wrath of God is "shut down" for them.  They are not subject to due penalty - they are justified by faith, declared righteous with the righteousness earned for them by Jesus Christ. (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:21)  Its as if around the cross is the Divinely dug fireline. 

All of those who huddle on the ground around that barren cross are untouched by the wrath of God flaming around the edges.  The circle is large in circumference, with room for you.  When you by grace through faith believe in Jesus Christ, you are admitted.  The flames cannot touch you.  In that circle around the cross blows the sweet breezes of Heaven, the cool winds of grace and grows the lush grasses of faith.  Outside the cross and its perimeter burns the wrath of God.  All who remain in their sin will never smell Heaven nor feel a gentle breeze. They will ever be in torment. 

Like the people in Numbers 16, only one could stay the plague - Aaron.  In a far more profound sense, only Christ, the Forever Standing Mediator, can stay the consequences of wrath upon those who by grace through faith believe on Him.  I pray you have so trusted in Him. 

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