So we're working our way through this narrative of Moses and Aaron to where Joshua and Eleazar take over, and the story seems to make this subtle shift, but it's not much of a shift at all. The idea that a man would be accountable to both God and His people is as old as, well, the very beginning.
Every time God calls someone to be accountable to Him, it is for the sake of much more than just that person. From the very time of Abraham, God is already making it clear that His relationship with this one particular man is intended to be a part of God's plan for "the nations" - not just Abraham, not just his children, not just his grandchildren, but everyone's children. God's children.
When God is speaking through the prophets about what He's going to to do the nations or with the nations or because of the nations, it's for the sake of...the nations. See, even though Israel is God's chosen people, all the peoples of the earth are God's peoples, and He says so again and again. And everything He does through Israel, everything He does through the prophets, everything He does through the priests, everything He does through the leaders is for the sake of the peoples.
Which means at every turn, the men and women God has called to be accountable to Himself have been so for the sake of the people, which makes them accountable for the people, too.
It is just as He told the prophet - "Suppose that I tell you to tell these people how to be My people and you don't do it. Well, then you are responsible for what happens to them." You're accountable to them because you're accountable to Him. You're not accountable to Him for your own sake.
Even in the New Testament, it's the same deal. Same pattern. Jesus picks twelve men to travel with Him, minister with Him, pray with Him. Why? For the sake of those twelve men? Of course not. (At least, not only.) It is for the sake of the people. Jesus has made them accountable to Him so that they can be accountable for the people.
Paul talks about the necessity of having preachers, persons to take the message of Christ into the world. They can't believe if they don't hear, and how can they hear unless someone speaks to them? How can they know truth unless someone preaches it? Again, you have not been called merely for your own sake, but for the sake of the people.
You are accountable to God in order to be accountable for His people.
Over and over and over again, this is the pattern. And it smacks in the face of a modern Christianity that is fairly convinced that the whole Jesus thing was all about "me." That God comes to the world one by one by one and that whatever He's doing in my life is for my own sake.
That's not what God has ever been about. It's not how He's ever operated. We see plainly in the testimony of Moses and Aaron what happens when we start to think that way - we spend our time on the mountain and forget about the camp. And then our knee-jerk reaction to such a paradigm shift is to say that if God has called us for His people, then maybe we shouldn't be on the mountain at all. And then we end up smelting calves out of earrings. It doesn't work. It's not tenable. And it's certainly not holy.
We're accountable to each other. A royal priesthood, we're accountable to each other so that we never forget that our calling is held in tension between God and His people. We're called into that gap. We're called to be that bridge. May we never forget that.
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