A Sign To Rebels
Numbers 17:1-13 (1) And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, (2) Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers 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 one rod shall be for the head of the house of their fathers. (4) And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you. (5) And it shall come to pass, that the man's rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you. (6) And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, 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 the LORD in the tabernacle of witness. (8) And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds. (9) And Moses brought out all the rods from before the LORD unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod. (10) And the LORD said unto Moses, Bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not. (11) And Moses did so: as the LORD commanded him, so did he. (12) And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish. (13) Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the LORD shall die: shall we be consumed with dying? This chapter is God's exclamation mark at the end of His sentence to Israel over the gainsaying of Korah and his company in Numbers 16. Oh, the wretchedness of envy and emulation! Like Diotrephes (3JO 1:9), Korah and his ilk loved not just the eminence they had as Levites to Israel---they loved the preeminence. They could not be satisfied with what God had given them, they had to have it all! For them, it was none of this business of being happy only to be a doorkeeper in God's house (PSA 84:10), as the Psalmist once said unto the sons of Korah (see the chapter heading of Psalm 84). Numbers 17, in a sense, speaks of the principle, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (MAT 22:14). There are times when God will allow heresies and troubles to flourish in the church (as had happened with Korah's rebellion), so “...that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1CO 11:19). And, in the final analysis, though pretenders to God's offices might be ever so convinced of their own worth, nevertheless, “...not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth” (2CO 10:18). The hypocrite who wants man's praise, not God's, toots his own horn (MAT 6:2) and self-promotion runs before self-destruction (PRO 16:18). By this miracle of bringing forth life from death in Aaron's rod alone, God would manifest whom in Israel He had chosen to lead. That rod of life was to be a token, or sign, against all rebel Israelites (v. 10). Jesus Christ's resurrection was similarly a “budding,” a bringing forth of life from death which would be a sign to rebellious Israelites. In fact, it was not just “a” sign to them. Christ stipulated that it would be the ONLY sign He would give them as proof that He was the Messiah of promise (MAT 12:39-40). Like Aaron's budded rod which was to be laid up before the testimony (v. 10) which was in the Holiest of all in the earthly tabernacle (see HEB 9:3-4) as a token against rebels, so the Lord Jesus Christ, the BRANCH of God (ZEC 3:8; ZEC 6:12) Who was “...cut off out of the land of the living” (ISA 53:8), budded, as it were, from the grave to (among other things) prove that He was the Man of God's own choosing to be Leader, Commander, King and Priest to Israel, and Savior of sinners. Unlike Aaron's rod, though, He entered “...not into the holy places made with hands...but into heaven itself...for us” (HEB 9:24), where His LIFE stands as a stumblingblock and sign to rebels everywhere! The testimony of the empty tomb, of hundreds of witnesses (1CO 15:1-5), of many who gave their lives rather than deny what they had seen, the utter failure of all attempts to discredit the resurrection, the preservation of His church as promised, the change in world history as had been prophesied long before, the testimonial documents which survive—-these all attest to the fact that He “budded” and is “...the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe” (1TI 4:10), and God “...now commandeth all men to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (ACT 17:30-31).