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.
Give thanks to the Lord for fruitfulness from dead sticks.
The Aaronic leadership has been vindicated by judgment on those who had sought to usurp it, but now it is to be vindicated by its fruitfulness. The picture of a dead staff coming to life and producing leaves and fruit is a powerful one. The word for ‘staff’ (AV, ‘rod’) can also be translated ‘tribe’ and we can think of the way in which the tribe of Levi, noted for its anger and violence and cursed with a scattering in Israel,1 becomes a spiritual blessing to the nation. The metaphorical image has stirred imagination down the centuries: Aaron’s staff that budded has been applied to the virgin womb of Mary, the dead stump of Jesse, the wooden cross of Christ and, in comparison to the dead staffs of others, the good tree or vine that bears fruit. We have a God who brings life out of death.
Verse 10 records the Lord telling Moses to place Aaron’s staff before the ark of the covenant, but Hebrews 9:4 depicts it within the sacred box together with the jar of manna and the tablets of the covenant. It is a permanent reminder of God’s prerogative in choosing his ministers, with their role as mediators between him and his people. Hebrews presents Jesus as our true High Priest and the one Mediator between mankind and God, by bearing the sacrifice that is himself. Those who minister in the church today should not view themselves as Aaronic priests, but as ministers of the new covenant entrusted as stewards with the mysteries of God.2
The people are traumatized by all the events that have happened in the vindication of the leadership of Moses and Aaron. They cry out that they are all going to die. Now they realize the danger of approaching a holy God and grumbling.
May the Lord teach us to understand his holiness, the blessing of an eternal Mediator – and not to grumble!
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.
1 Gen 49:5–7 2 1 Cor 4:1
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