The account of the miraculous budding of Aaron’s staff is recorded in Num. 17:1-11. A great
many of the Israelites had been complaining about Moses (and God), and 14,700 of them were
killed by a plague sent from God. God then took extraordinary action to strengthen the faith of
the remaining Israelites, and to ensure that they clearly understood the need to be faithful to God,
and to Moses, his lawgiver. He instructed Moses to take a rod from each of the 12 tribal leaders,
and place them in the tent of meeting before the ark of the covenant. The rod which buds,
miraculously, overnight would be the rod of him whom God chose. The next day, when Moses
went into the tent of the testimony, “the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and put
forth buds, and produced blossoms, and bear ripe almonds,” (Lev. 17:8). God explains his actions
in verse 10: “And Jehovah said, unto Moses, put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony, to
be kept for a token against the children of rebellion; that thou mayest make an end of their
murmurings against me, that they die not,” (Lev. 17:10).
In this incident, we note several important points of significance. First, we see the serious and
grievous wrong of murmuring and complaining against God and his word. The Israelites had
begun their wilderness wanderings, but continually murmured at the difficulties along the way,
and even complained that Moses should not have brought them up out of Egyptian slavery. When
we are led by God’s word out of the bondage of sin, and we begin our Christian life, we should
never complain or wish to be back in the sinful world. We should never long for our previous,
immoral lifestyle, or be unfairly critical of those who are trying to help us live the Christian life.
We also note in this incident that where God’s word goes, it brings abundance and life. An
inanimate, dead walking stick can be used by God to bring meaning and purpose to life. All of
the other 11 sticks were mere pieces of wood. But Aaron’s rod represented the power and
guidance of God’s word. It not only budded, it produced blossoms and bore ripe almonds. God
can do that in our lives, spiritually. He can take a life which is otherwise a mere worldly existence,
and transform it through the power of the gospel. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and
may have it abundantly, (Jn. 10:10). When we allow the Bible to direct our steps, we are placing
our trust in the living God rather than the futile and conflicting philosophies and opinions of men.
It’s also interesting to notice that from henceforth God required that Aaron’s amazing rod that
budded be kept in the tabernacle, “before the testimony.” After all of the other rods were returned
to the children of Israel, Aaron’s rod was kept “for a token” before the testimony. The Hebrew
writer informs us that the rod was kept in the ark of the covenant itself: “And the ark of the
covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was a golden pot holding the manna, and
Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant,” (Heb. 9:4). Every time the tables of
stone were consulted, that rod was there to remind the high priest of the importance of following
the leadership of God. It showed the preeminence of the Levites in their worship and ministry in
and about the tabernacle. And it affirmed the preeminence of God over all.
Today, we no longer have Aaron’s physical rod that budded. But we have something far
superior. We have God’s word, and the inspired guidance it provides to live our lives successfully
and in a manner that pleases him. We must lean upon his word like our forefathers would lean
upon a trusted walking stick. And we know that this particular walking stick will guide us safely
through our earthly journey.
Think of the emotions that stirred within the heart of Moses when he went in the next morning
and found that Aaron’s rod had budded! And consider the obvious conclusions he made when he
observed that the other rods were lifeless. We today need to retain that sense of wonder and awe
as we contemplate God and his word. May we distinguish it from the walking sticks which seem
to guide everyone else, and treat it with the same respect as Aaron’s rod that budded!
– by Robert C. Veil, Jr.