OceanSide church of Christ
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DON’T BE A FOLLOWER LIKE AARON
Victor M. Eskew
The word “follower” has both a positive and a negative connotation. There are times when we are called to be followers. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus exhorted a group of fishermen with these words: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Paul exhorted the brethren at Corinth to be his followers in I Corinthians 11:1. “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
The word “follower” can also have a negative meaning. It is negative when individuals follow others to do things that are wrong and sinful. There were times in Aaron’s life that he was a follower. Let’s look at three times when this happened.
The first time happened at the foot of Mount Sinai. Moses had been called by God to go up into the mountain to receive God’s law. After several days of being gone, the people questioned his return. The masses approached Aaron and requested that he make them gods to lead them. “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 wot not is become of him” (Exo. 32:1). Aaron was Moses’ brother. He was also Moses’ spokesman to the people. In his position, he should have opposed the rebellion of the people, but he did not. Instead, he followed them. “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….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. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord” (Exo. 32:2-5). Why would a man like Aaron follow this mob into idolatry? We are not told in the text. Perhaps it was out of sheer fear.
Numbers 23:2 commands us not to follow a multitude in any wrong doing. “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil…” The book of Proverbs gives similar exhortations. Proverbs 1:10 instructs, saying: “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not.” Proverbs 4:14 declares: “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.” Almost every human being knows how hard it is to go against the majority. They will mock you. They will threaten you. They will withdraw from you. They may even seek to harm or kill you. Our desire to belong and our deep-seated fears often cause us to go along with the crowd. Right, morality, and godliness are not determined by the majority. It would not matter if all humanity were aligned against us, we should never follow a majority to do evil.
A second time when Aaron became a follower in a negative way is recorded in Numbers 12:1-2. On this occasion, he followed the lead of his sister in opposition to Moses. “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.” Numbers 12:3-15 reveals unto us both the fallacy and the evil of this protest by Miriam and Aaron. Again, we wonder why Aaron submitted to this rebellion. The answer might lie in his tie to Miriam. She was his older sister. Family ties and relationships can run very deep. Those in our family can put a great deal of pressure on us to do wicked things.
When man must choose between right or relationship, he should choose the right every time. When he is placed in a position to decide between faithfulness or family, he could choose faithfulness every time. Our ties to family should never be more important than our ties to God. Our responsibilities to family should never be more important than our responsibilities to God. In Matthew 10:37, Jesus made this point very clear. He said: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Luke’s narrative expresses this exhortation in a much bolder manner. He records these words of Jesus: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). Family is important. Family ties are strong. It is good for families to stay united as possible. However, when family members oppose God and His Word, they are not to be followed. Aaron was wrong to engage in his protest against Moses with his sister. Anyone who accepts family in opposition to God’s will is just as wrong.
The third time we see Aaron following in an evil manner is recorded in Numbers 20. The nation of Israel was encamped at Kadesh. They had encountered a severe problem because there was no water. The people began to murmur against Moses and Aaron. The two leaders approached God about the situation and were given specific instructions as to how to obtain water for the people (Num. 20:7-8). One of instructions involved speaking to the rock from water would come forth. The congregation of Israel was assembled together. Moses and Aaron said unto them: “Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?” (Num. 20:10). In verse 11, we read of Moses actions. “And Moses lifted up his hand, and with the rod he smote the rock twice: and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.” The text seems to indicate that Moses was the transgressor. However, God’s condemnation came upon both Moses and Aaron. “And the Lord spake 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” (Num. 20:12). It appears that Aaron followed his brother in this violation of God’s word. Again, we wonder: “Why?” Could it have been because Moses was viewed as the superior? Possibly.
The lesson for us is very plain. When superiors go against God’s instructions, they are not to be followed. It doesn’t matter how much authority they possess. They are not to be followed when they oppose the things of God. It doesn’t matter how much power they have over our lives. If they stand against godly things, they must not be followed. The mere possession of power does not make one right.
Aaron followed a multitude to do evil. Aaron followed his sister to do evil. Aaron followed a superior to do evil. In every instance, he was wrong. In every instance, the consequences were negative. Dear reader, when wrong raises its evil head, do not follow it! Let the masses follow it if they so desire. Let you family follow it, if they so choose. Let your superiors follow it, if that is what they decide to do. You, however, must not follow it. Stand in opposition. Then, call upon others to follow you down the path of righteousness.