The teacher's section of our quarterly makes the following statement:
In 1972, journalist David Halberstam published The Best and the Brightest, a book on the architects of U.S. policy in Vietnam in the early 1960s. The title of Halberstam's book referred to the fact that these individuals had received the best education in the best institutions of higher learning, and most had achieved—prior to their involvement in the emerging U.S. Vietnam strategy—notable successes and triumphs in business, government, and academia. Why then, Halberstam asked, did the policies they formulated and put into place prove to be disastrous?
If you look at biblical history, God rarely chooses the "best and the brightest." And when the "best and the brightest" do stumble into the sacred story, they often prove not to be so bright and good after all. Examples include King Saul, Judas, and Solomon. His best servants often don't start out so well. Moses committed murder on impulse, fled into the desert, and tried to talk his way out of his mission. Jonah fled in the opposite direction to avoid confronting his own fear and bigotry. Paul was a persecutor and an enabler of mob violence. King David was a shepherd. The prophet Amos was a farmer. Many of the Apostles were fishermen. They were not exactly the best and brightest. They were common and simple people.
Was Aaron any different? He was very likely a former slave just like the rest of the Israelites. Aaron was given many privileges and gifts. Aaron was right there with Moses from the start (Exod. 4:27–30); Aaron was Moses' spokesman before Pharaoh (Exod. 7:1); Aaron cast down the rod that became a serpent (vs. 10); Aaron smote the waters that turned to blood (vs. 20); and Aaron was part of a select few who were able to approach the Lord in a very special way (Exod. 24:9, 10). In short, the man had been given privileges that few in history ever had, and yet, when a great test came, he failed miserably. Let us read the story,
1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods[a] who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him."
2 Aaron answered them, "Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me."
3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.
4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, "These are your gods,[b] Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt."
5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, "Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD."
6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.
We see how Aaron messed up, big time. But here's the amazing thing, God not only forgave Aaron his sin, the Lord eventually allowed Aaron to wear the sacred garments as the covenant nation's first high priest, a type for the high priestly ministry of Jesus Himself (Heb. 8:1). In other words, although Aaron was guilty of a terrible sin himself, he was also the recipient of God's redeeming grace; grace so great that it not only forgave him but allowed Aaron to assume a sacred office that, at its core, is all about God's grace and mercy and forgiveness. Thus, Aaron's life is a special example of mercy and redemption available to all in Christ. But, now Aaron could sympathize with others who like him were not the best and the brightest and would err as he did.
We too are chosen of God. None of us are the "best and brightest." And if we are, it's only because the standards are so low. God's royal priesthood is made up of repentant sinners and recovering "best and brightest" who realize that they need the garments of Christ's grace and righteousness.