1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the sons of Israel, and get from them a rod for each father’s household: twelve rods, from all their leaders according to their fathers’ households. You shall write each name on his rod, 3 and write Aaron’s name on the rod of Levi; for there is one rod for the head of each of their fathers’ households. 4 You shall then deposit them in the tent of meeting in front of the testimony, where I meet with you. 5 It will come about that the rod of the man whom I choose will sprout. Thus I will lessen from upon Myself the grumblings of the sons of Israel, who are grumbling against you.” 6 Moses therefore spoke to the sons of Israel, and all their leaders gave him a rod apiece, for each leader according to their fathers’ households, twelve rods, with the rod of Aaron among their rods. 7 So Moses deposited the rods before the Lord in the tent of the testimony. 8 Now on the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds. 9 Moses then brought out all the rods from the presence of the Lord to all the sons of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod. 10 But the Lord said to Moses, “Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony [b]to be kept as a sign against the [c]rebels, that you may put an end to their grumblings against Me, so that they will not die.” 11 Thus Moses did; just as the Lord had commanded him, so he did. 12 Then the sons of Israel spoke to Moses, saying, “Behold, we perish, we are dying, we are all dying! 13 Everyone who comes near, who comes near to the tabernacle of the Lord, must die. Are we to perish completely?”
Numbers 17:1 - 13
ESV - 1 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.
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I will start with your second question first. Yes, the Israelites had seen Aaron’s rod before: God chose Moses' brother, Aaron, to perform miracles with his own rod (Exodus 7:19; 8:5, 16). Aaron's rod was the one that turned into a snake in Pharaoh's court; when the Egyptian magi also turned their staffs into snakes, the snake that had been Aaron's rod swallowed theirs up (Exodus 7:8-10). It was Aaron's rod that God used to turn the water of Egypt into blood (Exodus 7:19-21). And it was Aaron's rod that summoned the plagues of the frogs (Exodus 8:5-6) and gnats (verses 16-17). Now let me answer your first question, second: Aaron's rod didn't just sprout buds; it brought forth flowers and fruit, a clear demonstration of the power of the One who gives life. Verse 10 says, "And the Lord said to Moses: 'Place Aaron's staff permanently before the Ark of the Covenant to serve as a warning to rebels. This should put an end to their complaints against me and prevent any further deaths.'" Hebrews 9:4 tells us that Aaron's rod remained in the Ark of the Covenant as a testimony of God's choice of Aaron and Moses to lead His people. Aaron's rod was also a reminder that God does not put up with rebellion against Himself or His chosen representatives on earth (1 Corinthians 10:10). Those who murmur, complain, and cause division within the Body of Christ are to be rebuked (James 5:9; 1 Timothy 5:20; 2 Timothy 2:23). God's plans on this earth are far beyond any single human being. He desires that we work together, in one accord, to obey Him and reflect His glory. From Numbers 17:9-11, after each clan leader claimed his own rod/staff, now Aaron’s staff merited special attention. It was placed “permanently before the Ark” (Numbers 17:10-11 NLT). Why? To warn potential “rebels” (Numbers 17:10) and to discourage Israelites who complained about God and His appointed leaders. The ARK eventually contained this staff/rod of Aaron, a jar of manna, and the 10 Commandments tablets (2) (see Hebrews 9:4) to remind the Israelites of their wilderness wanderings.
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