Commentators have proposed many reasons why the event at Meribah warranted Aaron and Moses not making it into the Promised Land. The reason for the question probably has less to do with Moses than it does with Aaron. Aaron started making a golden calf when the Israelites were still fresh out of Egypt. Aaron rebelled against Moses. So, Aaron makes a little sense. It was Meribah, however, that was the deciding factor.
Regardless, there seems something peculiar and special about Aaron’s death. Moses and Eleazer (Aaron’s son) accompany Aaron to the place Aaron will die. Moses and Eleazer then witness (we can safely assume) Aaron’s death. The special aspect of this is the passing on of the legacy. Aaron would see his son wear the high priest attire, be anointed, and then die. Aaron was able to see that what he and Moses had the next generation to take their place (and Moses would have Joshua).
The passing off of the reigns as God intended is both a gift and a responsibility. There is a big drive to pass off the reigns to the “next generation” (and who that is depends on how old you are). This is indeed the goal. However, passing off a mess or a bad legacy is not fulfilling the responsibility that God has given us. Of course, blinding holding on is just as bad (and often worse).
We see some of this with how the Jewish tradition was passed to the next generation. Then the next generation would build upon that. The generation after that would build on some more. Not to put too fine a point on it, but when the wrong stuff is passed on and built on, we get the Winchester House of theology and relationship. If you’re not familiar with Winchester House, it was continually expanded and built upon by Sarah Winchester to supposedly appease all the spirits of all those killed by her husband’s invention of the repeating rifle (i.e., the Winchester rifle). There are staircases that go nowhere, doors that are useless, and other oddities. Its only use is a tourist attraction.
The purpose of a house is to provide protection and security, not to be an oddity whose only use is tourism. Religion and theology should be building up, improving, and understanding the relationship between humanity and God, not lead us into dead ends.
Jesus takes the passed on Jewish theology and turns it over and breaks it apart. Poor Nicodemus was quite confused by Jesus’ answer. We often look down on Nicodemus because he didn’t understand the obvious (to us) connection between baptism of water and of Spirit. Or we give him grief that in his confusion he didn’t approach Jesus (in a learning way) in the day. Instead, perhaps we ought to think of Nicodemus who was making sure he understood and making sure that the legacy he would pass on was right.
- Of the faith/religion/theology that you have had passed you, what do you think needs to be stripped away to pass on a “cleaner” faith/religion/theology? Why?
- Of the faith/religion/theology that you have had passed you, what do think needs to be certainly passed on? Why? Is it biblically sound?
Lord, as we look forward, help us to determine, with you as our guide, the best path to take, so that others may follow the path that leads to you. Amen.