In Exodus 1—12 we see how independent Pharaoh was. He was not only independent; he was rebellious against God, even asking on one occasion, "Who is God?" (Exo. 5:2). Pharaoh did not care for God and he was unwilling to know God. Thus, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. He hardened his heart and even God hardened his heart (Exo. 7:13, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:34-35). Again and again and again the heart of Pharaoh was hardened. The people throughout the world today are hardened in their heart because they do not care for God. They care about their councils, plans and plots, but they do not care for God. Thus, God lets go of them and their hearts become hardened.
The name of Aaron is a good name. Although he was the high priest and was on the line of life, Aaron acted according to the line of knowledge. While Moses was on the mount enjoying God as the tree of life, Aaron and the people were at the foot of the mountain. They neither prayed nor looked to the Lord. When the people proposed to Aaron that he make them gods out of gold, he hearkened to them (Exo. 32:1, 4, 24). There are times when we should not listen to the people, for the congregation may present a proposal that is against God. Aaron heeded their advice, acting independently to make an idol of gold. The idol was very attractive; it was not made of clay but of gold. When Moses had descended from the mountaintop, he asked Aaron what happened. Aaron replied that he put the gold into the fire and a golden calf came out (Exo. 32:24). Aaron seemed to be defending himself, asking Moses not to condemn him and apparently thinking that he had not done very much. Nevertheless, as long as we are independent of God it does not matter how much we do or fail to do. As long as we are independent of God the golden calf will appear. There is no need for us to do very much: simply be independent of God and the result will be a golden calf.
VIII. NADAB AND ABIHU
Nadab and Abihu offered to God "strange fire" with their incense (Lev. 10:1-2). Although the incense was good, the fire was "strange." It was not the fire from the altar where the atonement was made. The fire they used was acceptable to their concept, but it was "strange" to God. This "strange fire," applied in their own way, not according to God’s revelation, caused their death.
IX. MIRIAM AND AARON
Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because he had married a heathen woman (Num. 12:1-2). Undoubtedly Moses was wrong in this. However, Miriam and Aaron were opposed to Moses, not as a result of their contacting God, but because of their own motive. Their opposition to Moses did not have its source in God, but in themselves, in their knowledge. This brought God’s wrath upon them, causing Miriam to suffer leprosy and to be shut out of the camp seven days (Num. 12:9-15).
The record of the Bible shows us that only one leadership has ever been faultless—the leadership of the Lord Jesus. Every other leadership has some shortcoming. Thus, with any leadership, other than the leadership of the Lord Jesus, there are always mistakes. Nevertheless, we must be very careful about our attack, even if the leadership is wrong.
(Life-Study of Genesis, Chapter 16, by Witness Lee)