Death Comes As No Surprise

Now when they set out from Kadesh, the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to Mount Hor.

Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron at Mount Hor by the border of the land of Edom, saying, “Aaron will be gathered to his people; for he shall not enter the land which I have given to the sons of Israel, because you rebelled against My command at the waters of Meribah.

“Take Aaron and his son Eleazar and bring them up to Mount Hor; and strip Aaron of his garments and put them on his son Eleazar. So Aaron will be gathered to his people, and will die there.”

So Moses did just as the LORD had commanded, and they went up to Mount Hor in the sight of all the congregation.

After Moses had stripped Aaron of his garments and put them on his son Eleazar, Aaron died there on the mountain top. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain.

When all the congregation saw that Aaron had died, all the house of Israel wept for Aaron thirty days. (Numbers 20:22-29)

Death comes to us all. One day, the world will go on without us. It will not even give us a moment’s thought, any more than we spare a moment’s thought for our great grandparents whom most of us wouldn’t recognize and whose names we probably don’t even know.

God told Aaron the precise moment and place when he would die. Like a prisoner on death row, God led him to Mount Hor and while everyone watched, his life ended. It was a sad time for Aaron, a sad time for Moses and a sad time for the people of Israel who set aside the traditional month for mourning. It was not a happy time for God, either.

As much as God wants us to be happy, the reality is that there are times when sadness is not only appropriate, but inevitable. Jesus wept at Lazarus’ tomb, even though he knew that within moments Lazarus would walk out very much alive. God knew that Aaron would not stay dead forever. The resurrection would come. But the promise of resurrection does not make the current moment of pain go away. Face the pain, acknowledge it, and mourn.

Aaron’s death was no surprise, but the Israelites were still sad for a long time. Don’t think you can’t or shouldn’t be sad. And don’t think you have to get over your loss immediately. Take however long you need. But also know, that sooner or later, the time of mourning will come to an end—whether in thirty days or longer—and you’ll go back to living your life.

Send to Kindle

About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
This entry was posted in Bible, Religion, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *