Between the Dead and the Living (Numbers 16:48)

He took his stand between the dead and the living, so that the plague was checked.

Numbers 16:48

This particular verse is part of a dark few days in Israel’s history. Korah, a Levite, stirred up a bunch of people to talk smack about Moses and claim that he (Moses) was lording his position over everyone. Moses wrote the first few books of The Bible and says that he was the most humble man that ever lived. Every time I read that, I think of the person who said, “He’s a humble little man with much to be humble about.” That’s probably a lot like what Moses was thinking. Meanwhile, back in Numbers, Korah and his followers end up swallowed by the ground. The ground opens, those people and their stuff fall into the gaping holes, and the ground closes up. No graves. No markers. Just dirt where there had been a tent and people and stuff. Shortly after this happens, people start griping again and claiming that Moses dragged them out of Egypt to die in the wilderness. Moses and Aaron are on their faces in front of God, begging Him not to wipe out that bunch of whiners behind them. Moses sends Aaron to get incense and to make atonement for the people and Aaron runs into the midst of the congregation; runs through the dead and dying until he finds the living and takes a stand there.

The line between life and death was marked by one person: the high priest. Since Hebrews tells me that Jesus is my High Priest, I have zero problem looking at what Aaron did here and seeing how it applies to Jesus and me. And it applies quite tidily. Jesus and the atone He made on the cross are the line between life and death. Jesus came down from Heaven (life) into this world (death) and walked among the mixture of people who were both alive and dead in a spiritual sense. He is the line that separates; His cross the boundary marker.

But Revelation says that God has made everyone He saved priests after a fashion. So I should also be interceding; standing between the living and the dead. I admit, I’m terrible at interceding for others. I have a lamentably short attention span and a sporadically terrible memory — sporadically because it can randomly recall entire passages of literature and whole plots of novel series but can forget the name of someone’s child for whom I’ve been asked to pray. If intercession is a gift, I did not receive it. But my High Priest stands between the living and the dead and He calls me — and every believer — to follow Him, which includes into the place He stands. I may not always be good at intercession, but He calls me to come stand beside Him between life and death and to halt the curse. Maybe that’s only a metaphor of working with Him to stop the progress of sin in my own heart and life, I don’t know, but that is the place He stands and I’ve been called to walk — and stand — beside Him. Will anything I do ever stop the progress of some plague? Again, I don’t know. But I will continue not to know until I go and stand beside my High Priest between the living and the dead.

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