Numbers 17:1-2,4-5,7-8,10,12-13 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel to bring you twelve wooden staffs, one from each leader of Israel’s ancestral tribes, and inscribe each leader’s name on his staff... Place these staffs in the Tabernacle in front of the Ark containing the tablets of the Covenant, where I meet with you. Buds will sprout on the staff belonging to the man I choose. Then I will finally put an end to the people’s murmuring and complaining against you.”... Moses placed the staffs in the Lord’s presence in the Tabernacle of the Covenant. When he went into the Tabernacle of the Covenant the next day, he found that Aaron’s staff, representing the tribe of Levi, had sprouted, budded, blossomed, and produced ripe almonds!... And the Lord said to Moses: “Place Aaron’s staff permanently before the Ark of the Covenant to serve as a warning to rebels. This should put an end to their complaints against me and prevent any further deaths.”... Then the people of Israel said to Moses, “Look, we are doomed! We are dead! We are ruined! Everyone who even comes close to the Tabernacle of the Lord dies. Are we all doomed to die?”
It is hard to understand this God of Moses and Abraham who punishes 14,950 people with death just a chapter ago and now shows grace upon a hard-hearted people. What are we to understand of God's character from this?
The story told in this chapter is one of much hope versus the one yesterday and we need to remember that the characters involved are the same.
Man's brokenness was visible for all to see and God's wrath was justified because of the rebellion, at least in God's estimation.
We might be quick to state that the killing of nearly 15,000 people was way too much for the sins of just 250 but God sees our heart and because He created us, has the right to take our life away if we disrespect or disregard Him.
The Lord observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. Genesis 6:5 (NLT)
“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT)
And then Jesus added, “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” Mark 7:20-23 (NLT)
We have to note here that the dead pieces of wood used as staff by the leaders of the 12 tribes had nothing in them to bring forth new life. They were not special in any way just in and of themselves.
However, God used them to speak His truth and that is a reminder to us that God is more than able to work all things out for His glory.
If there was fruit from the dead staff of Aaron whom the people despised, imagine how much fruit there is in us when we submit our broken bodies to Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and follow His leading?
In those times past, the people lived by following the law whereas today we live by being filled by the Holy Spirit, God's own spirit sent to all those who put their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT)
The fruits of the spirit referred to by the apostle Paul in the passage above are so vital for you and me and they come to us not because we earn them but because God gives them to us as a gift when we submit ourselves to the lordship of His son Jesus Christ.
Nothing we do or not do earns us favor from God but it is because of Jesus, who willingly and lovingly sacrificed His life for you and I, that we see God's grace upon us.
The Israelites realized their fallacy and regretted their words and actions because God had shamed them through mere dead pieces of wood.
Are we able to see the brokenness in our words and thoughts or do we need God to correct us in order to submit to His leading?
In His Loving Service,
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