From Numbers 16-17
Moses and Aaron’s leadership is continually questioned and disputed. In today’s passage the LORD steps in and gets each of the tribes to hand in a staff. He will cause the staff of his nominated leader to sprout as a sign to the rebels. In the gospel Jesus is risen from the dead. His greatest sign showing him to be the Christ is his resurrection from the dead. Do you believe Jesus is the risen Christ?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
In the previous chapter the leadership of Aaron and Moses was challenged. The LORD acted strongly in their defence killing an opposing family. When the people grumbled again the LORD was about to send a plague to wipe them out, but relented when Moses and Aaron hastily offered a sacrifice to propitiate his wrath (Num 16).
Have you ever wanted to challenge someone in leadership?
In today’s passage the LORD acts to stem any future uprisings against Aaron’s leadership.
17 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, and get from them staffs, one for each fathers’ house, from all their chiefs according to their fathers’ houses, twelve staffs. Write each man’s name on his staff, 3 and write Aaron’s name on the staff of Levi. For there shall be one staff for the head of each fathers’ house.
4 Then you shall deposit them in the tent of meeting before the testimony, where I meet with you. 5 And the staff of the man whom I choose shall sprout. Thus I will make to cease from me the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against you.” (Num 17:1–5)
Each chief from every tribe will hand over a staff (probably a branch) and the LORD will cause it to sprout. Moses is told specifically to write Aarons name on the staff of Levi. Presumably because he is not the chief of Levi.
Now, staffs of wood don’t normally sprout.
The LORD will show supernaturally who his appointed leader is. Have you seen this kind of thing happen before?
The LORD is doing this so they can be involved in the process and see who the LORD chooses. Hopefully then they will accept his choice.
6 Moses spoke to the people of Israel. And all their chiefs gave him staffs, one for each chief, according to their fathers’ houses, twelve staffs. And the staff of Aaron was among their staffs. 7 And Moses deposited the staffs before the LORD in the tent of the testimony. (Num 17:6-7)
Moses gathers all their staffs including Aarons. I think Aaron is mentioned several times because the LORD will continue to favour him in this role.
Moses leaves the staffs in the tent of the testimony (where the Law was kept) overnight. A miracle will happen.
8 On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony, and behold, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds. 9 Then Moses brought out all the staffs from before the LORD to all the people of Israel. And they looked, and each man took his staff. 10 And the LORD said to Moses, “Put back the staff of Aaron before the testimony, to be kept as a sign for the rebels, that you may make an end of their grumblings against me, lest they die.” 11 Thus did Moses; as the LORD commanded him, so he did. (Num 17:8-11)
Aaron’s staff of course sprouts and puts forth buds and blossoms. It goes beyond mere sprouting and produces almonds. Overkill.
Why did the LORD go above and beyond what he said he would do?
Moses gets the staffs and shows all the people giving them back. With the exception of Aaron’s staff. The LORD instructs Moses to return his staff before the testimony as a ‘sign for the rebels’. The budded staff will remain an ongoing sign to show the LORD has chosen Aaron as high priest over the people.
If they kept grumbling against the LORD, Moses and Aaron they would die.
12 And the people of Israel said to Moses, “Behold, we perish, we are undone, we are all undone. 13 Everyone who comes near, who comes near to the tabernacle of the LORD, shall die. Are we all to perish?” (Num 17:12–13)
The people realise what they have done. The LORD’s supernatural act has convinced them of the wrong they have done in doubting the LORD’s choice. They ask the question what will happen to them next.
This is one of several instances where the people of Israel will rebel against the LORD and the LORD will again demonstrate his commitment to his people.
Israel’s persistent unbelief and complaining was answered by a sign. It seems that signs were given not for believers but for the unbelieving and rebellious (10). For example, this was the purpose of the gift of tongues (1 Cor. 14:22) and the signs done by Christ (Jn. 6:30); and Ahaz would not ask for a sign because he would not test the Lord (Is. 7:10–14). The aim of this sign was to silence the constant grumbling against Aaron. It was actually the second sign, the first being the bronze overlaying the altar, but this sign was miraculous. (Carson, D.A. et al. eds., 1994. New Bible commentary: 21st century edition 4th ed., Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.)
The people will continue to rebel and the LORD will act. He will not allow this generation to enter the promised land. They did not recognise the sign that Aaron was his appointed leader.
In the gospel, Jesus is presented as the LORD’s appointed leader. His is the Christ, the son of God. The sign from God which displays this most clearly is his resurrection.
28 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. (Mt 28.1-16)
But some still doubt. In Numbers the budding of Aaron’s staff was given as a sign to the rebels that he was the LORD’s appointed high priest. In the gospel, Jesus is proclaimed as the Christ. This sign is his resurrection.
Do you believe Jesus is the resurrected Christ? Is he your king?
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2016. All Rights Reserved.