Chapter 40 Aaron's Budded Rod

Behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds (Numbers 17:8).

God’s new works are always so interesting and so full of instruction. Here we see a dry stick, a withered rod, cut off from its parent, life-giving tree, breaking forth into bud and blossom and fruit—and all in a single night.

On the return of the spies from the land of Canaan and the evil report of the ten—because the cities were walled, the men as giants, and the Lord’s people as grasshoppers by comparison—rebellion arises and blasphemy defiles the tongues of His own redeemed ones. Thus they turn from the land of promise and wander almost another thirty-eight years in a waste, howling wilderness, and suffer darkness and woe and dismal days because of their distrust. And out of this turning back arises Koran’s rebellion as he disputes the leadership of Moses and thus challenges God’s authority. This brings wrath from God upon him and his family and the first earthquake, when “the ground clave asunder that was under them: and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up” (Numbers 16:31).

But even this terrible judgment does not cure rebellious hearts; once again a plague mows them down, and many are slain of the Lord. Moses now commands Aaron to take incense from the altar and stand between the living and the dead. Thus Aaron is a mediating high priest, and in this office he becomes a type of God’s beloved Son. God’s wrath is checked. It is at this point that we see the miracle of the budded rod.

Aaron’s Rod

Each chief ruler of Israel’s twelve tribes is to take a rod. The rod is to bear his name, and the rods are to be deposited before the ark of the covenant. When Moses enters in the morning, eleven of the rods lie as they had been—dead and withered. But Aaron’s rod is marvelously changed. There is blossom, bud, and flower upon it. It is a miracle of resurrection life. It is a work no hand of man could accomplish, and it is to be laid up in the ark as a perpetual witness against all rebels (17:10).

The rod exhibits Christ, as was said by Isaiah, “There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1). God’s manifest choice of Aaron’s rod meant the rejection of all other rivals. Aaron proved to be God’s manifest choice, and he was a figure of Christ to come. Christ alone is God’s chosen High Priest of His redeemed people. Only in the Lord Jesus Christ do high priestly functions flourish. His glory can be shared with none other. They who seek it end in God’s fierce judgment as did Korah. The Lord Jesus alone is God’s Priest, and woe to any who would dare to snatch that office for himself.

The Budding of the Rod

In nature, decay and death lie heavily upon everything. All here below is doomed to wither and to die. Not so that which springs forth from God’s Rod, Jesus Christ. The blossom, bud, and fruit on Aaron’s rod were never to fail. Its beauty was a never-failing beauty. And all that was true of Aaron’s rod was but a beautiful picture of the perpetual Priesthood of our Saviour. “Thou art a Priest for ever” (Psalm 110:4). “This man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood” (Hebrews 7:24).

How comforting to the hearts of believers this is! We often mourn because of our coldness and listlessness. We find it difficult at times even to open our mouths in praise and worship, though we should be ashamed to confess it. But in our great High Priest there is nothing but a full flow of mediating grace. Surely our very survival in this hostile world we owe to His constant and prevailing intercessions. We are where we are in the heavenly way and in the distance we have come in our pilgrimage, because of our Lord’s prayers and works on our behalf. Bless God, all ye saints, for the Rod of Jesse!

What a lesson this is, too, in the application of His grace to our hearts! We were once as those sapless, withered rods. What use are such but to be burned up and devoured by fire. But God’s people have come to life in His dear Son. With the impartation of His resurrection life, we have become alive, and this is surely the work of God. Only divine power could do such a miracle.

Look at the fullness of life in God’s budded Rod! Then, surely, we must not forget to examine ourselves and measure ourselves, not with one another, which is not wise, but with our Lord and His transcendent beauty and inexhaustible fullness. Does our life blossom? Is there much fruit on our little rods? “Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples” (John 15:8). That can only be as we heed our Lord’s admonition: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in Me” (John 15:4). Let us be renewed this day in our love for our dear Saviour, and so love and meditate in His Word that we shall “be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither” (Psalm 1:3).

Sing praise to God who reigns above,
The God of all creation,
The God of pow’r, the God of love,
The God of our salvation:
With healing balm my soul He fills,
And every faithless murmur stills:
To God all praise and glory!

What God’s almighty pow’r hath made
His gracious mercy keepeth,
By morning glow or evening shade
His watchful eye ne’er sleepeth:
Within the kingdom of His might,
Lo! all is just and all is right:

To God all praise and glory!
Thus all my toilsome way along
I sing aloud His praises,
That men may hear the grateful song
My voice unwearied raises:
Be joyful in the Lord, my heart!
He leads His own, His chosen band:
To God all praise and glory!

Johann J. Schutz