Not long after the incident at Meribah (Numbers 20:1-13), Aaron is told that he is about to die, in fulfilment of God’s judgement. He will not enter Canaan, but will go straight to the final home of God’s people (verse 24). He is given due warning, so that he can hand the office of high priest over to his eldest surviving son Eleazar (symbolised by the transfer of Aaron’s sacred garments).
Aaron accepts his fate with dignity, and without protest. With Moses and Eleazar, he heads up the hill for his final appointment, and never returns. “By this solemn procession Aaron lets Israel know that he is neither afraid nor ashamed to die, but, when the Bridegroom comes, can trim his lamp and go forth to meet Him.” (Matthew Henry)
Few of us are given even a rough idea of when we shall die, but unless Jesus returns soon there will be a time for all of us when our pilgrimage is abruptly terminated. Will we then be able to say, like Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7)? Will we ‘go forth’, like Aaron, to meet our Bridegroom with courage and joy?