You are the God of my beginnings, middles, and endings. I affirm my willing dependence upon you once again, O Lord.
Read NUMBERS 17
17 And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of them rods, one for each fathers’ house, of all their princes according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods: write thou every man’s name upon his rod. 3 And thou shalt write Aaron’s name upon the rod of Levi; for there shall be one rod for each head of their fathers’ houses. 4 And thou shalt lay them up in the tent of meeting before the testimony, where I meet with you. 5 And it shall come to pass, that the rod of the man whom I shall choose shall bud: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, which they murmur against you. 6 And Moses spake unto the children of Israel; and all their princes gave him rods, for each prince one, according to their fathers’ houses, even twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. 7 And Moses laid up the rods before Jehovah in the tent of the testimony.
8 And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and put forth buds, and produced blossoms, and bare ripe almonds. 9 And Moses brought out all the rods from before Jehovah unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod. 10 And Jehovah said unto Moses, Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the children of rebellion; that thou mayest make an end of their murmurings against me, that they die not. 11 Thus did Moses: as Jehovah commanded him, so did he.
12 And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we perish, we are undone, we are all undone. 13 Every one that cometh near, that cometh near unto the tabernacle of Jehovah, [a]dieth: shall we perish all of us?
- Numbers 17:13 Or, shall die
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat do you do when you reach the end of your rope? Personally, I tend to rant and rave and collapse in a heap! How do you show it when you have really had enough?
We don’t know the timescale of these chapters – days, months, years – but we know the grumbling was constant (v 5). I imagine Moses had had enough: the people were too busy grumbling to listen. Yesterday we saw God respond to the grumbling with signs of judgment; today he offers a sign of election, not by democratic vote, but by divine appointment (v 5).
But why almonds (v 8)? Whether or not you like marzipan, it seems an odd detail but it’s a powerful image. An almond blossom is white, pure as snow; also, almonds were expensive and highly prized. When sending his sons to Pharaoh, Jacob counted them among the ‘best products of the land’ (Genesis 43:11). Then, in Hebrew, ‘almond tree’ sounds like ‘watching’ (Jeremiah 1:11,12). The almond-budded staff was therefore a sign of the person God chose and their role: to be an example of purity and holiness, to be valued, to keep watch over God’s people. Sadly, it was a sign God’s people needed then, and in perpetuity (v 10).
The priestly mediator role, standing between us and God, is fulfilled by Jesus. But there is still a place for leadership and authority within the church. Ask God to show you how you can affirm and encourage those who lead you in your faith.
Merciful Jesus, I thank you that your mission was to save me from my sin. I’m so grateful you can straighten the crooked places in my life.
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