Stripped, Gathered, Mourned

“Take Aaron and Eleazar his son, and bring them up unto mount Nor” (Numbers 20:25).

The death of Israel's first high priest Is typical of the death of many great but flawed leaders. Three key words sum up Aaron's life.

Stripped: At his death, Aaron was divested of his honorable position and distinctive garments. He died humbly on a lonely mountaintop. Though far from being an execution, it certainly was no glorious departure. Like Aaron, many of God's servants die peacefully, but sin leaves a dark cloud over their lives.

Gathered: Aaron was not "cut off. from his people like a rebellious sinner, but "gathered. to them like a repentant one (v. 26). God restored Aaron to usefulness, making his death a legitimate national loss. The passing of such a servant deserves a place of honor in the hearts of his countrymen.

Mourned: While his vital position was filled, Aaron's absence left a conspicuous hole (v. 29). After all, he and Moses were the original leaders of the Exodus. Like so many of God's servants, Aaron was valued more In death than In life. Death has a way of putting an imperfect career In Its true light.

Dear Lord, help me to remember that the best men are only men at best. With love covering a multitude of sin, let me honor the good that your grace accomplished in their lives. In Jesus' name, Amen.