The Incarnation of Aaron

It was a rough mom day: Toddler up early, breakfast residue on the table, cold coffee, quick tempers all around. By about 9:30 a.m., I needed a hug. So much so that I scooped up my unruly child and asked for one. 

She peed on me. 

I should have turned to God, should have been like Susanna Wesley (mother of John and Charles) and thrown my apron over my head to pray. But what I wanted was clean clothes and, still, a hug.

Prayer is effective, and the Holy Spirit’s presence is real. But some days you just need something to touch.

God wants us to turn to him in all circumstances, whether crisis or joy. He genuinely cares for us! He also knows that we are physical beings—he made our bodies with their needs and limits. Even Jesus, when he took his most fervent prayer to God in the Garden of Gethsemane, brought friends. 

A Physical Brother

Before Moses was a patriarch, leader of Israel, and Scripture author, he was a shepherd offering three separate objections to God. Out of excuses, he finally asked God: “Please send someone else” (Exodus 4:13). 

God’s response is equal parts comforting and humbling: “Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, ‘Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart’” (Exodus 4:14, emphasis added).

Aaron, led by God, was already on his way to Moses, probably before the bush began to burn. If Moses had trusted God and accepted his mission, Aaron still would have come to aid him. God knew that tangible, personal support is important for physical beings. God himself declared: “It is not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). 

We are certainly to seek comfort, wisdom, and solutions from God through prayer and Scripture as a first resort. God often responds to those prayers through people: friends, the local church, spouses, doctors, and therapists. Sometimes he uses dogs, warm blankets, or coffee. Much like Aaron, our help may be on its way before we think to ask. 

A Physical God

Aaron appears in the desert as an incarnate demonstration of God’s presence and provision. In that way, he is a type of Christ. 

God knows our need for physical connection so intimately that he made himself incarnate, in a body that sleeps and cries and eats, in the form of his son Jesus: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). 

Jesus knows our weakness, sympathizes with our suffering, and stands with us in temptation, because he has physically experienced it all as we have. Ours is not an abstract God out of touch with our lives, or a haughty God who refuses to interact with our menial existence. Ours is a loving God who humbled himself to experience life in the world he himself created. God became physical, so we can trust that he understands our physical needs and desires.

A Physical Savior

Aaron was later appointed the first high priest of Israel (Hebrews 5:4), the intercessor between the people and God. But he, like all his successors, was an imperfect high priest: he had to sacrifice for his own sins, in addition to those of the people (Hebrews 5:3). 

As our perfect high priest, Jesus lived through the range of human experiences but was without sin. He then offered up his own body as the physical sacrifice, the shedding of blood, that was necessary to forgive our sin and fully restore our relationship with God (Hebrews 9:22). 

Because Jesus physically lived and physically died (and physically resurrected and ascended!), we can “with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). 

The weather is turning crisp. It’s the season for warm drinks and cozy sweaters. Thank God for these tactile comforts! Call out to God in your struggles—but also maybe call or text someone. Man wasn’t meant to be alone. The help God sends may be a spiritual peace, a miraculous intervention, or simply a friend to hug.

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Overcoming Yourself: Why You Should Step out of Your Comfort Zone

I first saw it on Facebook: “Dwelling in Scripture – Biblical Training for Women.” Sounds good.

I read their purpose statement:

  • To help women to independently study the Bible within the context of redemptive history.
  • To encourage women to receive the inspiration and power of God’s Word.
  • To help women to grow in their relationship with and knowledge of God.

Even better. Where do I sign up? The page stated that they would send you a passage to study before you arrived. That seemed different, but interesting. I was sure it would enhance whatever the speaker would be teaching us.

As promised, about two weeks before the conference, I received an email to inform me of my passage to study: James 1:2-18. I read through it and decided that, though familiar, it would be beneficial to work through it carefully. Then I noticed the fine print:

“Prior to the training you will be given a scripture passage to meditate on and to use to prepare a 5-minute presentation during the group time at the event.  You will also be given preparation materials to assist you in working on your assigned passage.”

WHAT? I thought I was attending to learn HOW to do this, not to actually get up in front of people and do it myself.

It wasn’t really fine print–I just hadn’t read the whole page carefully. I panicked somewhat, but not enough to keep me from putting it off until the following week, which is typical for me.

The following week I was sick. All week. Which is not typical for me. I was sick enough that I didn’t do much of anything that week. However, from time to time I’d glance at the passage and write down a few words. James 1:2: “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…” Ha. Ha. The irony of my assignment was not lost on me.

As the week progressed, I was doubting I would even make it to the conference because of my illness, but I continued reading and jotting.

The day of the conference I woke up feeling slightly better, maybe even well enough to attend. I arrived that evening, located my table (we were seated with our small group), and cautiously ate a few bites of my dinner while chatting with my table mates. We sang a few songs, then went right to our assigned rooms for our small groups. All fairly typical conference stuff, right?

After the leader gave a brief introduction of how the small group format would work, the first presenter read her passage, then wrote her central idea on the board. Writing a central idea was part of our assignment. It was defined as a biblical truth about God, a simple sentence, and God-centered. It should not be a summary. The group then spent time dissecting her central idea, making sure each phrase was God-centered and not man-centered.

I glanced down at what I had written as the central idea for my own passage. Even though the sentence began with the word “God,” it was very man-centered. But I felt justified! This passage is full of directives: “consider,” “ask,” “ask in faith,” “let no one say,” “do not be deceived.” How could I write a central idea that is not even a little bit man-centered? I was starting to get annoyed.

As the evening progressed, I found myself getting more irritated as what I thought were perfectly good central ideas were taken apart, analyzed, and re-written.

Back at the hotel room, I decided I wasn’t going to obsess over it or change anything – I would just present it as is. I called Don and subjected him to an in-depth rant. He politely listened, but offered no counsel.

After a fitful night of sleep (I’d been struggling with insomnia for weeks), I woke up at 4 a.m., wide awake. I couldn’t stop thinking about the concept of making my central idea God-centered. I looked again at what I had written: “God uses trials and testing of our faith to strengthen us; we are blessed when we look intently into His Word.” It was all wrong. I considered when it was my turn to present, going up to the board, writing my central idea, then immediately drawing a red line through the whole thing. Except the word “God”—that’s good. That can stay. I got out my Bible and read through the passage again. Then I went back to the beginning of the passage and tried to focus particularly on any characteristics of God. I was still in denial, thinking my central idea was very good and convinced that any changes would leave out important concepts.

I prayed, and as I wrestled through the verses, God’s character shone through: “God, who gives to all generously,” “the Lord has promised,” “He Himself does not tempt anyone,” “the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” I was seeing a familiar passage with fresh eyes – eyes that had previously predetermined what they saw, but were now slowly being opened to a different way of thinking. I was astounded. My irritation was fading and being replaced by thankfulness.

I completely changed my central idea: “God generously gives His wisdom and goodness through trials.” The leader said she was excited that I had “wrestled” through the passage. I found I enjoyed sharing what I had learned and appreciated the group’s addition of two words to the beginning of my central idea: “Our unchanging God…” We had all started as kindred spirits in our anxiety about presenting to strangers, but ended up enjoying each other as sisters in Christ and in our study of God’s Word.

Do you hesitate at the thought of going to a conference? Or maybe there’s something else that makes you think, “I can’t do that.” Ask God to show Himself and His character to you. Don’t forget that Jesus has already done the heavy lifting for you. Ask Him to change you. You may still feel intimidated, but go forward anyway.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

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