Life of Moses: Aaron’s Rod Blossoms

Peter Barnes: Numbers 17

(3 November 2019)


– two outpourings of God’s judgment in Numbers 16:35, 49. In Numbers 17 Aaron’s rod blossoms to show that God had chosen Aaron as high priest.

1. The sign is meant to end grumbling against Moses.

-17:1-5. In Hebrew the word for ‘staff’ or ‘rod’ (‘matteh’) is also the word for ‘tribe’ so there is a play on the word here in Numbers 17. God will miraculously demonstrate that Aaron is the high priest, and that is God’s choice, not the people’s – 17:5, 10.

– 17:6-10. The point is that God appointed Aaron – Heb.5:1-6. Aaron was appointed, and even Christ was appointed. Aaron’s rod which blossomed was kept in the ark of the covenant with the Ten Commandments and some manna from the desert – Heb.9:3-4.

2. God gives life to the dead.

– 17:8. That is the way God works. Aaron’s stick was as dead as any of the other sticks, but God brought life out of it. See also Sarah in Gen.18:9-15; 21:5-7; Israel as a valley of dry bones in Ezek.37:11; the virgin Mary in Luke 1:34; Martha in John 11:39.

– 2 Cor.5:17.

3. God’s justice and mercy are vindicated.

– 17:11-13. God does something wondrous, and His people feel undone. That is not unusual – Luke 5:8. Thomas Manton: ‘Satan labours to present God by halves’. A half-view of God does not save.

– Charles Wesley wrote of being ‘lost in wonder, love and praise’. The joy is not in sin ignored but sin forgiven; not in the absence of justice but justice satisfied; not in a God who winks at sin, but in a holy God who atones for it.