207 – Numbers 16 in Hebrews 9

I’d like to begin today by repeating a paragraph from the previous article. I said, “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.”

There are two main ways to read and understand the Bible, literally or allegorically. One is correct and the other incorrect. It’s beyond the scope of this article to adequately represent both approaches adequately. I believe there is adequate proof that can be extracted from both the Bible itself and historical events to justify such a claim.

Not only is there empirical evidence to support a literal understanding of the scriptures, but it also makes logical sense that if you are to understand the message communicated by the author you would need to adopt a literal approach. Reject reader response and adopt authorial intent if you are serious about understanding the message of the Holy Bible.

The literal interpretation of the scriptures is what necessitates keeping the scriptures in context. In the previous article, I said, “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.

Now I want to point our attention to a New Testament reference that illuminates this Old Testament passage.

Hebrews 9:8-10

           8       the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. 

           9       It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience—

           10       concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.


To say that we are to interpret and understand the Bible literally does not mean we are to ignore symbolic representations, metaphors, similes, and the like. However, we need to be careful to not assign symbolism to scriptural passages when there are none. The easiest way to stay on track is when the Bible clearly states, as in the above reference, that something is symbolic. I’ll be the first to admit that the literal approach to Biblical interpretation takes work, but it is worth every bit of effort we put into it.

Hebrews chapters eight and nine are contrasting the first covenant and its replacement,  the tabernacle made by man and the heavenly one constructed by God (Hebrews 9:11). 

You may ask, “if Hebrews tells us that the Old Testament sacrificial system is a shadow or type of the real sacrificial system as recorded in the New Testament aren’t we free to spiritualize Aaron’s rod that budded? To which I would answer, no. The correlation of scripture is critically important to our understanding of the Bible and its message but we must be careful that in our effort to understand scripture as a whole we are not changing the meaning of the given passages.

Let me give you another example. In Acts chapter 10 we see Peter having a vision from God where a sheet comes down full of unclean animals. God tells Peter to kill and eat them. Peter protests and the vision is repeated three times. Many people will tell you this vision proves that the dietary restrictions were lifted – all foods are now clean. That’s not even close to what this passage is addressing. Peter tells us what the vision means later in the chapter.

Acts 10:28-29

      28       Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 

           29       Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?”


If you read all of chapter ten for yourself it will become clear. However, in a different place in God’s word, we do see the dietary restrictions challenged, if not lifted altogether.

Mark 7:18-19

           18       So He said to them,  “Are you thus without understanding also? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him

           19       because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?” 


Let scripture interpret scripture wherever it does. Study to discover God’s message. It is a beautiful message that glorifies Christ and Blesses us as we learn what it is and how to live by it.

Today I am overwhelmed by God’s goodness and grace. He and He alone is truly worthy of all our praise and worship!


All Scripture quotations from The New King James Version. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982. Print.

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