A Perfect Picture of Death and the Christian

Posted on February 1, 2022


By David Ettinger

A Pleasant Surprise
As I was reading the Book of Numbers, I was pleasantly surprised by an insight the Lord gave me. It concerned the death of Aaron, Israel’s first high priest. The account reads this way:

… the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Aaron will be gathered to his people. … Get Aaron and his son Eleazar and take them up Mount Hor. Remove Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar, for Aaron will be gathered to his people; he will die there” (20:23-26).

On the surface, this may seem clear cut; something not requiring deep thought. Indeed, this is how I viewed this text for more than 3 decades … until reading it on this particular day. What was so insightful this time? The answer is, for the first time I saw in it a perfect picture of death and the Christian.

Breaking it Down
God’s command was obeyed: “They went up Mount Hor in the sight of the whole community. Moses removed Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar. And Aaron died there on top of the mountain” (vv. 27-28).

Notice how orderly the process proceeds. Note how the congregation was gathered. Notice how we see no hesitancy on the part of the main players; no protesting God’s decision to end Aaron’s time on Earth. Note how the transfer of duty went from the original high priest to his successor. And notice the simplicity of the words, “And Aaron died there on top of the mountain.”

I tried to envision how this episode played out. Of course there would have been a solemnity to it as the God-anointed priesthood was involved, but I can well imagine the human aspect.

I can see the men walking slowly up the rugged mountain, each engaged in his own thoughts. After all, Moses was about to lose his beloved brother, and Eleazar would be saying farewell to his esteemed father. As for Aaron, concerns regarding the “hereafter” may have been present.

Yet, a holy ritual was to be performed, and it was to be done with dignity and reverence. I’m sure it was. But what about after the transference of power from father to son? What about when the Lord’s commandment had been fulfilled and it was time for Aaron to die?

I can imagine quiet tears being shed as Aaron and Moses embraced, their long partnership over. And what about the final moment between Aaron and Eleazar? Surely there would have been another embrace, this one more intense, more heartfelt than the one between siblings.

And finally, what about Aaron’s final moment on Earth? Did he lie down? If so, was there a cloth provided so he would not have to place himself on dirt and rocks? I think so. And what about the moment he passed? Was he left alone with God, or did his loved ones stay with him until the Lord took him? I’m guessing the latter.

The Important Thing
But beyond any of these considerations, what I really see here is tranquility. I see God’s ordaining of the entire episode and his granting of peace and comfort to all involved.

It is as if the Lord is saying, “If you believe in Me, none of this has to be difficult. Of course I expect you to shed tears, after all, you are about to lose someone you love, and you, Aaron, are about to leave the only existence you know. But your existence is not over. Far from it. You will now be where I am, and where I am, there is joy.”

I believe the same death experience occurs with Christians. And yes, I know how horrible some deaths can be. Some believers leave this world wracked with excruciating pain, the results of a ravaging disease. Others die violently as martyrs, torture sometimes preceding their demise.

But in it all, I see the Lord bestowing His peace and tranquility upon those who are His.

I have read the accounts of those who were burned at the stake, how they sang in the midst of the flames, and even smiled, joy filling their souls. How can this be? The only logical answer is that the Lord had descended upon those in their affliction, His assurance and peace washing over them at the moment of death. It was the Lord telling them that everything is just fine; that this is exactly what is supposed to happen.

Our Perfect Peace
Just as Aaron’s death was tranquil, so, I believe, is the death of all believers who are walking with God. Of course the circumstances are different and could well be terrible by human standards, but what is similar is the unimaginable peace God will bestow during the final moments, and the glimpse of the glory the believer is about to pass into.

God’s wondrous tranquility at the time of death is the reason believers can proclaim, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

May this truth comfort you in these stormy and uncertain days!

David Ettinger is a writer/editor at Zion’s Hope, Inc., and has written for Zion’s Fire magazine since its inception in 1990.