The budding of Aaron’s rod

Do you know someone who has: A song waiting to be sung? Some are waiting to be hung? A piece waiting to be played? A scene waiting to be staged? A tale waiting to be told? A book waiting to be sold? A rhyme waiting to be read? A speech waiting to be said? If you do, don’t let the … More


In today’s passage God proves once again to the people that Aaron can be trusted and he is the High Priest of Israel (vv. 1-6). A situation was set up for a visible sign of God’s unmistakable choice of Aaron as High Priest. Each tribe was to be represented by a rod or branch of an almond tree, upon which was to be inscribed the name of their tribe. Since the number of rods was twelve (v. 6), and since one rod was for the tribe of Levi, Aaron’s name was on it. At the appointed time, the rod of the man of God’s choosing would bud, and this sign was to settle who was God’s man (v. 5).

After witnessing spectacular miracles, seeing the Egyptians punished by the plagues, and experiencing the actual presence of God, the Israelites still complained and rebelled (vv. 7-13). The next day when Moses entered the tabernacle, he saw that it was Aaron’s rod that had budded. Aaron’s staff “brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds” (v. 8). The other 11 rods were just as they had been presented and as the people saw no buds on theirs. As usual, the Israelites overreacted when they heard the news and concluded that anybody who came near the tabernacle would perish. At least they had a fear of judgment, but they didn’t have a true fear of God in their hearts. They now saw themselves as those who could not compete against God (vv. 12-13).

The Lord gave Israel three reminders to encourage them to obey His Law and submit to His will:

  1. The tassels on their garments.
  2. The brass plates on the altar.
  3. Aaron’s rod in the Holy of Holies.

To encourage the believers today to be obedient children, the Lord has given us:

  1. His Word (John 17:17).
  2. The indwelling Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19-20).
  3. The Lord’s Supper, reminding us of the death of Christ and His promised return (I Cor. 11:23-34).
  4. The interceding Savior in heaven (Heb. 4:14-16).


Before I judge God’s ancient people too severely, perhaps I need to examine my own heart to see if I have encouraged others to obey the authority of His Word and His appointed leaders.

Numbers 17:1-13 (English Standard Version)

The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "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, and write Aaron's name on the staff of Levi. For there shall be one staff for the head of each fathers' house. Then you shall deposit them in the tent of meeting before the testimony, where I meet with you. And the staff of the man whom I choose shall sprout. Thus I will make to cease from me the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against you." Moses spoke to the people of Israel. And all their chiefs gave him staffs, one for each chief, according to their fathers' houses, twelve staffs. And the staff of Aaron was among their staffs. And Moses deposited the staffs before the LORD in the tent of the testimony. On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony, and behold, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds. Then Moses brought out all the staffs from before the LORD to all the people of Israel. And they looked, and each man took his staff. And the LORD said to Moses, "Put back the staff of Aaron before the testimony, to be kept as a sign for the rebels, that you may make an end of their grumblings against me, lest they die." Thus did Moses; as the LORD commanded him, so he did. And the people of Israel said to Moses, "Behold, we perish, we are undone, we are all undone. Everyone who comes near, who comes near to the tabernacle of the LORD, shall die. Are we all to perish?"

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