May 9, 2018

Some things never seem to end; final exams, cleaning your room, driving through a road construction zone, extra innings in baseball, getting a root canal, and basic training in the military. Grumbling is habit forming and addictive and if left unchecked it goes on and on without end. We were spectators to this in Numbers chapters 13, 14, and 16.

In Chapter 17 God is going to give people a sign, and object lesson if you will, that will end grumbling once and for all.

Numbers 17:1–8 (NLT) — 1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “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. 3 Inscribe Aaron’s name on the staff of the tribe of Levi, for there must be one staff for the leader of each ancestral tribe. 4 Place these staffs in the Tabernacle in front of the Ark containing the tablets of the Covenant, where I meet with you. 5 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.” 6 So Moses gave the instructions to the people of Israel, and each of the twelve tribal leaders, including Aaron, brought Moses a staff. 7 Moses placed the staffs in the Lord’s presence in the Tabernacle of the Covenant. 8 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!

Okay so the people had been complaining that the priests were the only ones that could hear from God and minister to the people. They thought that it was unfair. Now God is showing them that his protocol for blessing his people was to come through the High Priest and the priestly line.  If they would adhere to this they would receive the blessings of God as noted by the blossoming of Aaron the High Priest’s staff which was  a dead stick and yet God caused it to not only blossom but to bear fruit.

Why almonds? Because the word for almonds in the Hebrew was the word that meant to look forward. Almonds were early spring bloomers so when the almond tree was in bloom it was a sign that spring was on the way. The Lord’s example here looked ahead to our great high priest Jesus Christ. We are the dead sticks, dead in our trespasses and sins and so by believing what Jesus did for us on the Cross we are now forgiven for those sins, we are brought to life spiritually and are now able to bear fruit for the Lord. This blessing comes to us through Jesus our High Priest. God wants to bless us.

God’s goal for us has always been life and not death. He is a God of blessing but it comes to us on His terms. There is no other way. And this is how Jesus our High Pries purchased this blessing for us:

Isaiah 53:2–5 (NLT) — 2 My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. 3 He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. 4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.

Is was at a great cost that Jesus purchased life for us and the ability to bear fruit for God. Jesus entered the very den of death to free us who were rightfully deaths captives. He took upon himself the curse that was reserved for us grumblers and complainers and nailed it to the cross so that we might taste of all the blessings that God has in store for us. Remember that the almonds = blessings.  And when we remember what he did on our behalf it should end all of our grumbling and complaining!

Iain Duguid, “We are so blessed in this new-covenant era, for we no longer have a mere sign of God’s commitment to bless us. We have something better than a flowering staff that sits mutely in front of the symbol of God’s presence, the ark of the covenant. That staff spoke eloquently of God’s set purpose to bless his people and transform their grumbling hearts. Yet how much more effective and eloquent is the reality to which the staff pointed. The reality that we have been given to ponder is our great High Priest, Jesus Christ, standing in the heavenly Holy of Holies, interceding for you and me day by day. In the death of Christ, God assures us of his settled purpose for our blessing. In the resurrection of Christ, he assures us that the almond is already in bloom: our final salvation is near. In Christ, the Lord has indeed put an end to our grumbling, and in its place he has given us abundant life in all its fullness. Faced with the reality of the cross and the empty tomb, may we let our grumbling die away, lost in an upswell of wonder, love, and praise.”

Duguid, I. M., & Hughes, R. K. (2006). Numbers: God’s presence in the wilderness (pp. 216–217). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Be Inspired Hilltop!