Then Aaron took it as Moses commanded, and ran into the midst of the assembly; and already the plague had begun among the people. So he put in the incense and made atonement for the people. And he stood between the dead and the living; so the plague was stopped. —Numbers 16:47-48
Because they rebelled against Moses' authority, the entire congregation was guilty before God. The only thing separating the dead and the living was Aaron— who stood offering incense and making atonement.
Incense is associated with the prayers of the saints. In Psalm 141, the psalmist refers to our prayers as incense set before God.
TO GOD, THE PRAYERS OF HIS PEOPLE ARE A PLEASANT ODOR.
Just as Aaron interceded between the dead and the living, we can stand between the dead and the living through the power of prayer. I believe many people are sustained today only because someone is praying for them.
Because God is just, He must punish the guilty or He would no longer be just. But God is also merciful and loving; and therefore, He is slow to wrath. Because God does not want to punish, He seeks to exercise His mercy and looks for people to stand in the gap.
Our world is in great rebellion against God. How important that we stand in the gap offering the incense of prayer between the dead and the living— that by our prayers we might sustain those who deserve to die, and stop the plague of God in our nation.
Father, challenge our hearts with the spiritual imperatives brought to us through the Scripture. May we stand in the gap and make a difference by our prayers. Amen.