God’s choice is final. He proves conclusively to the people who He has chosen as His own. ALL are His but the one who is to be especially dedicated to Him becomes concrete.
God just finished dealing with the rebellion of Korah. The ground swallowed up Korah, Dathan and Abiram and all their family and possessions. The 250 elders who had stood with Korah were consumed by fire.
The following day the people still grumbled about Moses’ leadership. God calls for their utter destruction again and Moses once again steps in to spare them. Fortunately for them God listened to Aaron and Moses’ pleas. Many dies but many more were spared.
Now God is going to give them an unmistakable sign as to who He has chosen. Before we get there I want to glance back at the signs He already gave.
I’m going to take an abbreviated look at the miracles God gave through Moses and Aaron’s hands PROVING whom He was working through. First there were the plagues on Egypt. Second was the children of Israel’s sparing of most of the effects of those plagues. Next is the wealth they left Egypt with. Then comes the AMAZING crossing of the Red Sea with water standing up on both sides of them. Then the drowning of all the armies of Egypt. Next we get to the manna in the wilderness. Next God turned bitter water sweet. Then there was water from the rock. Then there was the defeat of the people of Rephidim. Then we have the meal of quail, which wasn’t as pleasant as they thought it would be. Then we have the punishment of the ten spies and the safety of the people. Next we get to the events of the last two days; the earth swallowing the rebels, the burning of the 250 detractors, and the plague on the grumbling congregation resulting in 14,700 more dead. Moses and/or Aaron were front and center for all of these events. Their hands were employed as the hands of God. Let’s not forget the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night that no one but Moses could approach and Moses’ glowing face. WHAT MORE PROOF DID THEY NEED!!??!!
God gives them one more quiet miracle. All the hubbub has quieted. The dead have been removed from the camp. The “spoils of the conflict” have been handed over to the Eleazar for repurposing. The people rise back up from their fear and take a breath.
God tells Moses to gather a staff from the head of each tribe. Each man was to write his name on his staff so there would be NO confusion. Moses was then to collect the staffs and take them to the tent of testimony and leave them there. No one, not even Moses knew what would happen. They all had to wait and see what God had planned.
When Moses went in the next morning to retrieve the staffs we can be certain that he was expecting something to be different about Aaron’s staff because he KNEW God had called him. But I can say with ALMOST certainty that what he saw blew his mind too.
Moses had seen God turn Aaron’s staff into a snake and the magicians of Egypt do the same but he had never seen a dead piece of wood come back to life! EVERY staff that had been placed in the tent had been used by its owner for a long time. They were well worn, straight, sturdy, DEAD pieces of wood. They may even have been covered in something to protect them from the elements of wear and tear. No doubt they also bore some identifying carvings to mark them as their own property. None of them had sap, seeds, water, soil, roots or any of the elements necessary elements for growth.
Lying before Moses was a staff that not only had buds on it but leaves and RIPE almonds. New life from dead wood. None of the other staves had any sign of alteration to them at all. There was NO WAY Moses could have doctored the staves to create what he emerged from the tent with.
As the leaders gathered around him to retrieve their staves each could clearly see the names written on each one. They could see that the structures had not changed from the previous day. But Aaron’s staff had changed in a way that was unmistakable. I would hazard to say that the growth it showed didn’t disturb or destroy the markings on it or obscure Aaron’s name in any way. EVERYONE could identify it as Aaron’s staff. NO ONE could doubt God’s choice because ALL of them knew going into this day that whatever came out of that tent would forever signify God’s decision.
There are three things that grab my attention in this story. The first is the stubbornness of the people. With ALL they saw, received, and personally witnessed how could they still doubt and question God? I don’t get it!
The second thing that grabs me is the patience God exhibited. He could have said, “I’ve said all I’m going to say on the subject. Get it through your thick heads and straighten up.” Instead He gave them one more miracle. One that was quiet and personal. One that could NOT be dismissed with a wave of the hand. One He didn’t have to give.
Which brings me to the third thing; God bringing life out of death. We encounter Him doing this with our lives when we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior. But He did this with the people He had just told that they were going to die in the wilderness and not receive His promise. He showed them that even though they had disappointed Him to the point of harsh consequences they were not beyond His love. He still had life to give them; to those who would finally follow Him. Their hard hearts could still bear some kind of life, if they would let Him do His work in them. He STILL loved them!
Father God You do SO MANY things for me that I don’t deserve. Letting me still be here breathing is one of those things. I could have been gathered to You when I was a child and stepped out in front of that car, but You preserved my life and healed me in record time. I could have died of heart failure for the many years I struggled with eating issues, yet You kept my heart and body in Your hands and protected me from myself. I could have been removed from this life all the times I contemplated suicide over the years, but You stayed my hand and gave me reasons to live on. ALL these were/are gifts from You that I don’t deserve.
Your Son giving His life for me is a gift I will NEVER fully understand. All that I have done with my life, including the above, should disqualify me for this amazing gift. But You still chose to make new life sprout from my dead spirit. Thank You for that Life. Thank You for making me bud. Thank You for the leaves You grew. Thank You for the fruit You nourished. I pray that fruit bears fruit of its own and its fruit bears even more. That fruit is my blessing and gift back to You. Not because of some awesome work I have done but because of what You have birthed through me. So for my physical “fruit” and spiritual “fruit” I pray that You nurture it and grow it into an abundant harvest for Your Kingdom.