GOD’S DEFENCE OF HIS SERVANT: ISREAL’S LEADER

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    [Numbers:17:1-13]

    Lesson No.: 
    106
    Class: 
    Senior
    Memory Verse: 

    “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (John 15:16).

    Cross References: 

    I The Representative Rods
    1. The princes, or heads, of the houses of Israel brought every man his rod, twelve rods, [Numbers:17:1-2], [Numbers:17:6]; [Numbers:1:5-16].
    2. The name of each man was inscribed upon his rod, according to the house of his fathers, [Numbers:17:2].
    3. Aaron’s name was written upon the rod for the house of Levi, [Numbers:17:3].
    4. All the rods were laid in the Tabernacle before the testimony, [Numbers:17:4], [Numbers:17:7].

    II The Blossoming Rod, Aaron’s Vindication
    1. This test was made that the murmurings of the Children of Israel might cease, [Numbers:17:5]; [Numbers:16:41-50].
    2. The rods were brought forth on the morrow, and Aaron’s rod had budded, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds, [Numbers:17:8].
    3. The rods were exhibited to all the Children of Israel, and each man took his own rod, [Numbers:17:9].

    III Aaron’s Rod a Treasured Testimony
    1. God commanded Moses to bring Aaron’s rod again before the Ark of the testimony to be kept for a token against the rebels, [Numbers:17:10]; [Hebrews:9:4].
    2. “And Moses did so: as the LORD commanded him, so did he,” [Numbers:17:11].
    3. The Children of Israel at last realized their position, and never murmured on this point again, [Numbers:17:12-13].

    Notes: 

    The Questioning Throng
    It has been said, “A miracle is never wanting where a miracle is needed.” If a man or group of men are honest in their question, God will never fail to supply the answer. Jesus said, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John:7:17). God does not want us to be in doubt; and at an opportune time He will reveal Himself to us as He did to Thomas.

    The Israelites at this time were halting between two opinions. The rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram has been subdued by the strong hand of God’s judgment. God has unmistakably shown His choice through the acceptance of Aaron in the matter of burning incense at the door of the Tabernacle ([Numbers:16:16-18], [Numbers:16:35]). The seeds of discord had been sown deep by the rebels, however, and the people still seemed to question as to who was God’s true representative. Had the people considered all the facts of Aaron’s representation in the priest’s office, they would not have questioned his call to that office. When the plague broke out among the Children of Israel as a result of their rebellion and murmurings on this subject, Aaron ran into the congregation with a censer in his hand to make atonement for the people. The Lord respected Aaron’s intercession, and the plague was stayed. If Israel had no further proof, this incident should have been sufficient evidence that Aaron was God’s choice for the priesthood.

    Aaron’s Type Needed
    Without God’s assistance no man could have done what Aaron did. This was the true vindication of Aaron’s priesthood -– the efficacy of his offering of incense to stay the plague, by which he was seen to be accepted by God as an intercessor for the people. Job sought for such an intercessor, without avail. In Ezekiel’s time the Lord “sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none” (Ezekiel:22:30). Men of Aaron’s type are not so plentiful as some would have us suppose, but surely there is a greater demand for them than ever before.

    The men of Israel thought, under Korah’s persuasion, that “all the congregation are holy, every one of them.” They soon found, through God’s swift punishment of the guilty, how wrong they were. The Lord has always needed men who will stand between the living and the dead as Aaron did, making intercession for those still alive. We, as Christians today, are called to make supplications, prayers, and intercessions for all men ([1 Timothy:2:1]). We are made “kings and priests unto God”; therefore our responsibility to Him is great. The duty of telling the good news of salvation does not rest with our ministers alone; it rests with every “born-again” child of God. After we sow the Seed it is our duty to water it with our prayers that it might spring up into eternal life in the hearts of the hearers.

    A Miracle Performed
    The large body of people was manifestly implicated in the rebellion of Korah. The 250 princes of renown who joined with him were men held in high estimation. They were champions of the unruly mob; and they were put forward to oppose the supremacy, which Moses and Aaron had exercised. When they were consumed by fire from the Lord, the mob was awed and terrified for a moment; but terror soon gave way to rage, and they charged Moses and Aaron with the murder of their leaders. The plague again struck terror into their hearts; and now, that they might have visible and lasting proof that Moses and Aaron were not usurpers but were the chosen of the Lord, this miracle of the rod was wrought.

    At the word of the Lord, Moses instructed the Children of Israel to bring a rod for each of the houses of their fathers, twelve rods according to their tribes. The princes or heads of the tribes were to bring the rods with each man’s name inscribed on his rod. The twelve rods, with Aaron’s road among them, were laid up before the Lord in the Tabernacle of witness. The Lord’s promise was, “It shall come to pass, that the man’s rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom.” When Moses went into the Tabernacle of witness the next day, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had budded, brought forth blossoms, and yielded almonds.

    Never was the evidence of a miracle more complete. Everything about it was so far beyond the power of nature that no doubt could remain in the minds of the people or of the envious chiefs, of the divine appointment of Aaron and of the especial intervention of God in this case. To see a piece of wood, long cut off from the parent stock, without bark or moisture laid up in a dry place for a single night with others in the same circumstances -– to see such a piece of wood resume the perfection of life, budding, blossoming, and bringing forth fruit at the same time, must be much a demonstration of the peculiar interference of God as to silence every doubt and satisfy every scruple. All the Children of Israel examined the rods, and the princes took every man his rod. Thus God ordained Aaron priest three times; once by oil and blood, once by fire, and lastly by the token of the budded rod. The people acquiesced in the evidence, and never murmured about this authority again.

    Aaron’s Rod a Memorial
    Forever to assure the future generations of Israelites of God’s choice, and to make it a token against the rebels, the Lord instructed Moses to return the budded rod to its place before the testimony. “And Moses did so: as the LORD commanded him, so did he.” Now the people had a visible sign of God’s selection to the priest’s office. The Children of Israel realised their position before God and said unto Moses, “Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the LORD shall die.” Evidently they saw themselves as God saw them. Their sins appeared very great and they felt there was no way back. If the people came presumptuously to the Tabernacle, or ever again came in the spirit of usurping Aaron’s powers, they would die. However, if they came according to God’s directions, they not only had a perfect right to come but could expect God’s blessing in doing so.

    The Rod Today
    The evidence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ can be likened unto Aaron’s rod. Jesus is our High Priest, and He brought the Gospel of the Kingdom to earth as the rod of His power. It was a flourishing sceptre while He lived and walked on earth; but when He expired on the cross and went down into the grave, His adversaries felt that the Gospel went with Him. The lively hope seemed to have perished in the hearts of Jesus’ followers. Christ’s enemies felt much the same as the murmurers of Israel -– that He was not the Lord’s anointed.

    What a glorious triumph when Jesus arose! The Gospel, the power of His might, came forth to live anew, to bud, to blossom, and to yield fruit. Once again the glad tidings of salvation rang in the hearts of men. The lively hope was rekindled in the bosom of His disciples. They went everywhere preaching the Gospel, and the increase has been inestimable. We are in the gleaning time of that increase today; but, thank God! We can still work for Him in the vineyard. “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest” (Luke:10:2).

    As Aaron’s rod that budded brought an end to Israel’s murmurings concerning this subject, so the Gospel has “with well doing . . . put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” (I Peter:2:15). Aaron’s rod was kept as a token of God’s faithfulness to men. In the earth today there is no greater token of God’s love for humanity than the Gospel of the Son of Man. This Gospel teaches us in its most simple words, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John:3:16).

    Questions: 

    1. Why did the Lord instruct Moses to take a rod from the princes of the Children of Israel?
    2. How were the rods identified one from another?
    3. Whose name was on the rod for the house of Levi?
    4. Where did God tell Moses to put the rods?
    5. Why do you suppose He wanted them there?
    6. What happened when Moses inspected the rods the next morning?
    7. Could anything like this have happened just by nature?
    8. What did the Children of Israel do when they saw the rods?
    9. What did Moses do with Aaron’s rod? Why?
    10. Did the Children of Israel know by this time their standing in the sight of God?