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From Eternity Past

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    How Aaron Encouraged Rebellion

    If Aaron had had courage to stand for the right, he could have prevented that apostasy. If he had unswervingly maintained his own allegiance to God and had reminded the people of their solemn covenant with God, the evil would have been checked. But his compliance emboldened them to go to greater lengths in sin than had before entered their minds.EP 224.1

    To justify himself, Aaron endeavored to make the people responsible for his weakness in yielding to their demand; but notwithstanding this, they were filled with admiration of his gentleness and patience. But Aaron's yielding spirit and desire to please had blinded his eyes to the enormity of the crime he was sanctioning. His course cost the life of thousands. In contrast was the course of Moses. While faithfully executing God's judgments, he showed that the welfare of Israel was dearer to him than prosperity, honor, or life.EP 224.2

    God would have His servants prove their loyalty by faithfully rebuking transgression, however painful that act may be. Those who are honored with a divine commission are not to aim at self-exaltation or shun disagreeable duties, but to perform God's work with unswerving fidelity.EP 224.3

    The insubordination which Aaron had permitted, if not speedily crushed, would run riot in wickedness and involve the nation in ruin. By terrible severity the evil must be put away. Moses called to the people, “Who is on the Lord's side? let him come unto me.” Those who had not joined the apostasy were to take their position at the right; those who were guilty but repentant, at the left. It was found that the tribe of Levi had taken no part in the idolatrous worship. From among other tribes there were great numbers who now signified their repentance. But a large company, mostly the “mixed multitude,” persisted in their rebellion. In the name of “the Lord God of Israel,” Moses now commanded those who had kept themselves clear of idolatry to gird on their swords and slay all who persisted in rebellion. “And there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.” The ringleaders in wickedness were cut off, but all who repented were spared.EP 224.4

    Men are to beware how they judge and condemn their fellowmen; but when God commands them to execute His sentence upon iniquity, He is to be obeyed. Those who performed this painful act thus manifested their abhorrence of rebellion and idolatry. The Lord honored their faithfulness by bestowing special distinction upon the tribe of Levi.EP 225.1

    That the divine government might be maintained, justice must be visited upon the traitors. Yet even here God's mercy was displayed: He granted freedom of choice and opportunity for repentance to all. Only those were cut off who persisted in rebellion.EP 225.2

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