Skip to content


Based on a sermon series by Aun-Quek Chin—Singapore

Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord.”

What sweet words to hear. Yet, as we have seen in the first installment in this series, just as being reckless in our faith can distort our worship of the one true God, so can such sweet declarations be the source of spiritual corruption.

This article will continue to draw on the story of Aaron to show three more ways the service of Israel’s first high priest was corrupted, and how we ought to prepare ourselves so we do not follow in his footsteps.


Aaron’s first mistake was that he corrupted his service by adulterating the truth of the Lord: he not only taught the people evil, but did it in the name of God.

And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!” So when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the LORD.” (Ex 32:4–5)

There are two lessons we can draw from this.

Firstly, on the face of it, by having people worship God with a feast of remembrance, Aaron seemed to be doing a good thing. However, this was actually a guise—a justification—to commit idolatry and practise evil. What he did was an abuse of the Lord’s name.

This is a temptation many Christians fall prey to today. Often, we invoke the name of the Lord or borrow religious language and ideas to justify our actions and mistakes, sometimes even to convince ourselves of the righteousness of our sins. For instance, some Christians, fully aware of the paganism and sinfulness of certain modern festivals, still insist on participating in these celebrations. They may defend their practices with a variety of purposeful misinterpretations of the Bible, though it is likely that their true motive is a more base desire to ingratiate themselves with society and to avoid appearing irrelevant and backward. The habit of applying biblical teachings to one’s life is always highly encouraged. However, we must be careful to examine our true intentions for doing so as we may unknowingly be appropriating the word of God to vindicate our sinfulness.

Secondly, judging by Aaron’s boldness of speech, it appears that he did not think his actions to be wrong, despite having heard God’s clear commandments against idolatry (Ex 20). This is a type of corruption that is not self-aware—perhaps the most dangerous sort.

Many of us struggle with our sinful addictions and vices daily. But the fact that there is a struggle is a heartening sign. It means that the Holy Spirit still has a hold on our conscience and our souls, and that some part of us is still determined to defend our faith and relationship with God. Furthermore, even if we yield to sin at certain moments, if there was a struggle, then contrition and remorse usually follow soon after. These emotions are often the first steps toward refining our Christian character. As David rightly reflected after he sinned with Bathsheba: “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—these, O God, You will not despise” (Ps 51:17).

Alas, as we can see with Aaron, there are those who sin without being conscious of it in the slightest. These sinners are insulated from their own conscience and the advice of others; they simply cannot allow themselves to be aware of the error in their wrongdoings. From this we learn that while we may find ourselves in sin, in the process of our recovery, our baptism of fire needs to be sparked by knowledge and awareness, the enemies of willful ignorance and obstinacy. We must never allow ourselves to adulterate the truth and co-opt it abusively for personal gratification.


Aaron’s second failure as a leader was to refuse to take responsibility for his actions and accept the blame for having misled the Israelites, who were put under his charge.

And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?” So Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. For they said to me, ‘Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ And I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out.” (Ex 32:21–24)

Aaron’s choice of words is revealing. When defending himself in the face of Moses’ interrogation, Aaron always placed himself in a passive position, while the Israelites were the active parties in the sin they collectively committed. In fact, Aaron even implicitly accused Moses, tacitly suggesting that if he had not tarried so long on Mount Sinai, the people would have had no opportunity, or need, to construct an idol. In short, Aaron chose to find blame in everyone but himself.

Yet, clearly knowing that the people were “set on evil,” he did not think to rebuke or correct them. Not only that, he even aided them in their transgression against God. A very possible reason could be that Aaron was fearful—fearing the consequences of not complying with the loud demands of an impatient, resentful mob; the prospect of losing the respect of his friends, being ostracized or even physically harmed. Aaron’s calculations were not just based on cowardice, but a selfish cowardice. It was selfish because Aaron feared for his own wellbeing, not the terrible fate he knew awaited the Israelites if they committed idolatry. He put himself before the truth and his brethren.

For the modern Christian leader, having the courage to accept responsibility for the church work we are entrusted with is an essential virtue that we must not overlook. It goes beyond taking the blame for when things go wrong, seeing as church workers rarely focus on seeking out culprits to punish. Accepting responsibility for church work is so crucial because it is equivalent to accepting responsibility for the spiritual wellbeing of our brothers and sisters in Christ. When we are made accountable to our brethren, we learn to be more vigilant in our service, and to better appreciate the significance of the work we have been called to do to serve the living God. Leaders, in any capacity, should adopt the principle Aaron lacked: the belief that the decisions and faith of our spiritual family in church is of utmost concern to us. We are obligated, as their brethren, to be vigilant even if they are not, and to be strong in truth when they are weak.

Furthermore, as a leader, we must not be afraid to act on this sense of accountability. Being a Christian leader is different from being a secular one. As a leader in church work, you do more than influence people’s opinions and motivate action. A church leader has a duty of selflessness towards his brethren. In basic terms, this translates to prioritizing the spiritual growth of church ministry and the faith of others above our own comfort and convenience. But selflessness also means that we are unafraid to correct the mistakes of our brethren, even if our well-intentioned counsel offends them and our cherished relationship sours. It is putting our desire to maintain an all-positive, uncontroversial relationship with everyone second to our duty to care for the purity and strength of their faith. Of course, we must take every care to be gentle and tactful, and to mend broken relationships with our brothers as Jesus tells us to. What is necessary for a leader, as was necessary for Aaron, is the firmness of character and principle. Good examples include Phinehas, who did not hesitate to stop the evil of adultery among his people (Num 25), and Paul, who did not allow his friendship with Peter to prevent him from pointing out the latter’s mistakes. We are similarly duty-bound, to God and to His children, to influence others by His word instead of being influenced by the dictates of the world.

Lastly, on this note of accountability, we must ensure that we are not passive accomplices to the sin of our brethren. Even by opting to do nothing when we see our brethren committing sin, we are guilty as well. Take Moses’ mistake for instance:

Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” So Moses took the rod from before the LORD as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” (Num 20:7–12)

At first sight, it seems unreasonable for Aaron to have been reprimanded by God; was this not a fault that fell purely on Moses’ shoulders? Indeed, while Moses was the primary sinner in this case, Aaron was guilty for choosing not to remind and correct him of his error, perhaps before he had hit the rock the second time. Ultimately, we are all accountable to God for both the actions we take, and those we do not. Vigilance is the underlying quality we must have to safeguard our personal faith and that of our precious family.


Aaron’s third mistake was to allow envy and personal ambition to corrupt his divine service.

In Numbers 12:1–2, it reads:

Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. So they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it.

Aaron and Miriam, the two leaders who were appointed by God to support the ministry of Moses, spoke out against Moses. To be sure, Moses was wrong. By taking for himself an Ethiopian wife, he had disobeyed God’s commandments to maintain purity among God’s chosen. Thus it seems right to us that Aaron and Miriam would express their displeasure with Moses for what he had done. In fact, should we not laud Aaron for bravely pointing out the wrong of his brother? Why, then, did God reprimand Aaron and punish Miriam, even questioning why they were unafraid to speak against Moses?

It was all about intentions. Aaron and Miriam seemed to forget that God could see into the deepest crevices of their hearts and minds. When Aaron spoke out against Moses, he did not do it out of concern for his brother, hoping to help him improve and grow. We know this because Moses’ marriage to his Ethiopian wife happened years before, and Aaron only brought this up years later in order to gain leverage to try to oust his brother as leader. Aaron and Miriam had become power-hungry opportunists who resented how Moses seemed to be the focal point of God’s plans while they remained on the periphery.

For us Christians today, servitude to God must not include the ruthless and senseless politicking rampant in the offices, governments and schools of the world. While it is difficult to escape politics whenever people have to work in teams, we should never forget to hold ourselves to a higher standard of moral conduct as Christians, especially when we do church work. If we believe that the Holy Spirit guides the church in her ministry and that, in His infinite wisdom, God appoints certain people to do certain work, we can be assured that we need not manipulate relationships, slander, or buy over other people to rise up the ranks. When it comes to church work, we do our best and place all in the hands of God, trusting Him to do what is best for the church. When the church prospers, we all prosper.


Remaining a faithful and principled Christian is increasingly difficult in this age of rapid secularization. As we have personally experienced, the world and the devil are tireless in presenting temptation after temptation before us. That many of these temptations arrive at our doors in the guise of religion and “correct” Christianity is more perturbing still. That is why the True Jesus Church (TJC) has always, and will always, take pride in the fact that we rely fully on the pure, unadulterated word of God to live our lives, to run the church, and to spread the gospel. However, because of these three vulnerabilities—adulterating the truth, shirking responsibility, and playing politics—which plague the modern leader, as they did Aaron, having Bibles open before us is insufficient. Vigilance must accompany doctrine. In order to protect the truth, keep politics out of the church, and learn genuine, loving accountability for one another, the Christian must never let his guard down.

And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother,” God lovingly told Moses, “for glory and for beauty” (Ex 28:2). Aaron sinned gravely, yes, but God still loved him. There was still work for Aaron to do. But Aaron could not wear those garments into the promised land because of his lack of vigilance. We have all been called to God today in the TJC. We have been gifted equally beautiful spiritual garments. Let us work with vigilance and diligence for the Lord, so we can don these garments of glory as we enter the kingdom of heaven.