Rev. Nabil Nour, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Hartford, South Dakota, joins host Rev. AJ Espinosa to study Numbers 17.
God finally ends the rebellion in Numbers 17. He does so with a miracle, bringing Aaron’s staff back to life so that it even started growing fruit! Through this miracle, God affirms that Aaron is His sovereign choice for the priesthood. While it is true that the whole people of God function as priests of light to the rest of the dark world (Exodus 19), there is still a unique ordained office within God’s people—not because of man-made hierarchies, but because of the unique character of God’s Word.
In Aaron’s staff, we also see a foreshadowing of our Lord’s resurrection. Just as the staff was taken out of the dark tent and restored to life, so our Lord was taken out of the dark tomb and resurrected. Just as Aaron’s staff was kept before God as a sign of priestly authority, so the Christ ascended as a sign of His lordship over all people.
Thy Strong Word is a daily in-depth study of the books of the Bible with host Rev. AJ Espinosa and guest pastors from across the country. Thy Strong Word is graciously underwritten by the Lutheran Heritage Foundation and produced by the LCMS Office of National Mission.
The Budding of Aaron’s Staff
17 [a]The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Speak to the Israelites and get twelve staffs from them, one from the leader of each of their ancestral tribes.Write the name of each man on his staff. 3 On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe. 4 Place them in the tent of meeting in front of the ark of the covenant law, where I meet with you. 5 The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.”
6 So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and their leaders gave him twelve staffs, one for the leader of each of their ancestral tribes, and Aaron’s staff was among them. 7 Moses placed the staffs before the Lord in the tent of the covenant law.
8 The next day Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. 9 Then Moses brought out all the staffs from the Lord’s presence to all the Israelites. They looked at them, and each of the leaders took his own staff.
10 The Lord said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the ark of the covenant law, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.” 11 Moses did just as the Lord commanded him.
12 The Israelites said to Moses, “We will die! We are lost, we are all lost!13 Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord will die. Are we all going to die?”
- Numbers 17:1 In Hebrew texts 17:1-13 is numbered 17:16-28.