|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
16:41-50 The gaping earth was scarcely closed, before the same sins are again committed, and all these warnings slighted. They called the rebels the people of the Lord; and find fault with Divine justice. The obstinacy of Israel notwithstanding the terrors of God's law, as given on mount Sinai, and the terrors of his judgments, shows how necessary the grace of God is to change men's hearts and lives. Love will do what fear cannot. Moses and Aaron interceded with God for mercy, knowing how great the provocation was. Aaron went, and burned incense between the living and the dead, not to purify the air, but to pacify an offended God. As one tender of the life of every Israelite, Aaron made all possible speed. We must render good for evil. Observe especially, that Aaron was a type of Christ. There is an infection of sin in the world, which only the cross and intercession of Jesus Christ can stay and remove. He enters the defiled and dying camp. He stands between the dead and the living; between the eternal Judge and the souls under condemnation. We must have redemption through His blood, even the remission of sins. We admire the ready devotion of Aaron: shall we not bless and praise the unspeakable grace and love which filled the Saviour's heart, when he placed himself in our stead, and bought us with his life? Greatly indeed hath God commended his love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, Ro 5:8.
Verse 48. - And he stood between the dead and the living. If this is to be understood literally, as seems most consistent with the character of the narrative, then the plague must have been strictly local in its character; striking down its victims in one quarter before passing on to another; only thus could it be arrested by the actual interposition of Aaron with the smoking censer. And the plague was stayed. Thus was given to the people the most striking and public proof of the saving efficacy of that mediatorial and intercessory office which they had been ready to invade and to reject. Thus also was it shown that what in profane hands was a savour of death unto death, became when rightly and lawfully used a savour of life unto life.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he stood between the dead and the living,.... The plague beginning at one end of the camp, and so proceeded on, Aaron placed himself between that part of it wherein it had made havoc, and that wherein yet it was not come; the Targum of Jonathan is,"he stood in prayer in the middle, and made a partition, with his censer, between the dead and living;''in this he was a type of Christ, the Mediator between God and man, the living God and dead sinners; for though his atonement and intercession are not made for the dead in a corporeal sense, nor for those who have sinned, and sin unto death, the unpardonable sin, nor for men appointed unto death, but for the living in Jerusalem, or for those who are written in the Lamb's book of life; yet for those who are dead in sin, and as deserving of eternal death as others, whereby they are saved from everlasting ruin:
and the plague was stayed; it proceeded no further than where Aaron stood and offered his incense, and made atonement: so the consequence of the atonement and intercession of Christ is, that the wrath of God sin deserves comes not upon those that have a share therein, the second death shall not seize upon them, nor they be hurt with it; for, being justified by the blood of Christ, and atonement for their sins being made by his sacrifice, they are saved from wrath to come.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
48. he stood between the living and the dead—The plague seems to have begun in the extremities of the camp. Aaron, in this remarkable act, was a type of Christ.
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