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…And the Lord said to Moses, “Bring Aaron’s rod back before the Testimony, to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put their complaints away from Me, lest they die.” Numbers 17:8 & 10
“Your Staff Against Mine!”
In Numbers 16 the Lord squashed a rebellion that rose against His appointed servants, Moses and Aaron, and in chapter 17 He implements a doctrine, if observed, would thwart future insurrection and provide a sign by which all might know Who is in command.
Gathering the staffs of all the leaders, God effects only one to blossom and bear fruit; that of Aaron’s. From that time forward if a rebellion was brewing or folks were merely questioning God’s authority or His God-given authority, all one need do is to fetch Aaron’s rod and that budding, blossoming, and almond festooned pole would instantly bring to memory God’s miraculous supremacy. But we might ask, “How is this applicable for Christians today?”
The Rod Points to Jesus
Everything in the Bible, particularly in the Old Testament, points to Jesus as Christ in one way or another, although we may wonder how a piece of dead wood, albeit covered in fresh growth, is symbolic of our Lord and Savior. We need go no further than the Prophet Isaiah to make that connection.
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots…He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. Isaiah 11:1; 53:3b-4
This Rod, this tender shoot would die, cut off from the vine, and forsaken. But Jesus foretold of His own restoration; how like a piece of dead wood He would once again bud, blossom, and bring forth fruit—just as Aaron’s rod wonderfully, miraculously, and symbolically demonstrated. There would be those who doubted Jesus; questioning His authority, just as Korah in his rebellion had questioned Moses and Aaron’s. And like in the prophetic case of Moses and Aaron, He would produce one sign.
“What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:18b-10
One Sign, One Resurrection
How do we know Jesus is the Messiah? By this one sign we know: His resurrection. Had Jesus not blossomed from the grave, our faith would be without value. In contrast we can know that there is no other way by which a person can be saved, because no other dead rod has brought forth fruit. Every false god or prophet of every false religion lies dead and fruitless in the grave. Dead wood cannot produce.
What About Preachers, Teachers, and Churches?
How do we know who we should listen to and what church we should be attending? Again, the answer lies in Aaron’s rod and everything and everyone claiming deity must be held to its standard. Jesus told us, “Beware of false prophets…you will know them by their fruits, ” in Matthew 7:15-16. And of Himself He reminds us in John’s Gospel, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5
But how can we know if we are receiving the truth and not cleverly twisted Bible passages crafted to suit one person’s agenda? The answer is simple and it starts interestingly enough with this bit of .. the combination of buds, blossoms, and almonds is found in one other place in the Bible—the lampstand of God’s Tabernacle.
You shall also make a lampstand of pure gold; the lampstand shall be of hammered work. Its shaft, its branches, its bowls, its ornamental knobs, and flowers shall be of one piece…Three bowls shall be made like almond blossoms on one branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower, and three bowls made like almond blossoms on the other branch, with an ornamental knob and a flower– Exodus 25:31 + 33
Amazingly, God ties everything together. This lampstand of course is symbolic of God’s Word and we know…
Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path. Psalms 119:105
James develops the illustration even further explaining that the contrast between that which is right and wrong is made manifest by fruit or the lack of it.
But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:14-18
James is once again holding Aaron’s rod as the means by which we measure God’s truth, essentially saying, “Examine the fruit!” Is there envy; is there self-seeking; is there strife; is there no peace? Has purity, love, and gentleness been tossed aside for hypocrisy and perversity? Is the fruit good or is it bad? If we are not at peace with these things, then these words of Isaiah ring true…
If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. Isaiah 8:20b
Where Would Jesus Go
And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it…Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. Mark 11:13-14, 20
If we are still confused as to what church to attend we might inquire, “WWJG?” or to put it plainly, could Jesus’ hunger be satisfied in this place. The fig tree in Mark’s Gospel is representative of everything that can go wrong with a church. Certainly it had plenty of beautiful leaves providing both shade and comfort, but no fruit; nothing to sustain spiritual growth. It’s heartbreaking to know that many believers are starving in comfortable churches that afford no nutritional value whatsoever. Do we hunger for comfort or for nourishment? The ultimate standard for any church, teacher, or religion is whether or not it can measure up to Aaron’s rod.
And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply…” Genesis 1:22a
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