206 – Numbers 17 – Aaron’s rod
I hope you’ve been following along with us through Numbers chapter sixteen because chapter seventeen is simply a continuation of the historical narrative of the previous chapter. If you’d like to get caught up to where we are you can read the six articles I wrote covering Numbers sixteen, or better yet just read Numbers sixteen for yourself.
1 And the LORD [YHWH] spoke to Moses, saying:
How do I know that chapter seventeen is a continuation of the historical narrative of the previous chapter you may ask? The very first word in verse one removes all doubt, the word “and” is the key.
The events that transpired in Numbers sixteen were initiated, not by God, but by man – specifically Korah as demonstrated by the first two words. “Now Korah…” (Numbers 16:1). In contrast, chapter seventeen continues the narrative by describing an event that Yahweh initiated, “And [Yahweh] spoke…”. The brackets are mine. I’ve come to dislike the translation of the Hebrew word YHWH into “the LORD”. Why? Because “the LORD” is not a translation, but rather a replacement for the Hebrew name of God. YHWH, sometimes written in English as Yahweh, is God’s personal name and out of reverence for Him, we should use it!
You’ll remember from the previous chapter YHWH judged the sin of Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and the other two hundred and fifty men by taking their lives. A plague from YHWH would have undoubtedly wiped out the rest of the nation had not Moses and Aaron taken quick action as intercessors for the people.
Obviously, YHWH felt something was still unresolved as indicated by what He said in verse 5b. “…I will rid Myself of the complaints of the children of Israel…”.
Please read Numbers 17:1-6 for yourself. My summary is YHWH instructed the Nation to label twelve rods with the names of each of the tribes of Israel, using Aaron’s name on Levi’s rod. And put them in the tabernacle. Let’s pick up the story in verse seven.
7 And Moses placed the rods before [YHWH] in the tabernacle of witness.
8 Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds.
Just like YHWH said in verse five, He caused, “…the rod of the man whom I choose will blossom…”. I am in awe as I’m sure the actual witnesses were! Not only did Aaron’s rod bud, have flowers (blossoms), but it also produced ripe almonds! Who but YHWH God could take a rod, part of a branch that was cut off from the life source of the tree it came from, and produce something living? Absolutely amazing!
I believe a strong word of caution is appropriate at this point. Please, please, please, resist the temptation to spiritualize, or look for a deeper meaning for Aaron’s rod that budded. To look for a deeper meaning would be to negate what the text tells us. Look at verse five again.
5 And it shall be that the rod of the man whom I choose will blossom; thus I will rid Myself of the complaints of the children of Israel, which they make against you.”
YHWH God Himself tells us exactly what the rod means. The blossoming rod indicated who the man is that YHWH chose, nothing less and nothing more. Resist the temptation and don’t change the meaning of the Bible by reading into it what is not there.
Maybe you weren’t tempted to look for the rod’s deeper meaning, or maybe you think I just went on a ranting rabbit trail. I understand. I am growing increasingly convinced that we must approach the Holy Word of God with absolute respect and reverence. Don’t you agree that we should make every effort to understand what God is communicating to us? Don’t you agree we should avoid making stuff up and attributing it to God’s word?
Look around you. Look at all the sin and depravity of man in this world of ours. Look at how sin plagues the church. How has even the body of Christ drifted so far away from God? Is it possible that the drift is a natural result of not respecting the Bible as a book that should be literally interpreted and literally understood?
Sometimes I think the modern-day Christian is more interested in some new and exciting revelation than they are working to discover what God is actually saying in His word.
What about you? Will you put forth the effort to understand God’s message as written and strive to apply the truths discovered within to your life? To me, there is no greater joy than discovering the truth about God as recorded in God’s word. God’s Holy word is amazing because He is an amazing God. Let’s commit to handling His word correctly so we don’t alter His message.
God truly is amazing! He and He alone is worthy of all praise and worship.
All Scripture quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.