Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Numbers 17

Numbers 17: The budding of Aaron’s staff


In the last chapter, we read about Korah’s rebellion. (It was more than just Korah involved, but numerous places in Chapter 16 seem to indicate that he was the main ringleader.) Then, after the LORD put down that rebellion, the rest of the people rebelled again. In this chapter, the LORD wants to put and end, once and for all, to all of the “grumbling” by the Israelites about who should or should not be their High Priest.
The LORD said to Moses, “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. On the staff of Levi write Aaron’s name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe. Place them in the Tent of Meeting in front of the Testimony, where I meet with you. The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.” (verses 1–5)
So they do so. Moses collects a staff from every tribal leader, with Aaron’s name on the Levite staff. He puts them in the Tent of the Testimony, and, the next day, they check the staffs.

Of course it comes as no surprise that Aaron’s staff has sprouted. In fact, it hasn’t just sprouted, but “budded, blossomed and produced almonds” (verse 8). Moses then presents each leader with his staff, I guess so that they can see for themselves which one has sprouted, and which ones haven’t.

The LORD then instructs Moses to put Aaron’s staff back in front of the Testimony, “to be a sign to the rebellious” (verse 10). And then He says something interesting:
This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die. (verse 10c)
The reason I find it interesting is that I often try to get my head around God’s sovereignty, vs. free will. (I find this statement very similar to the times when God decides to wipe out the Israelites, before Moses convinces Him not to. It doesn’t fit in with my view of a God who is all-knowing; how does Him “changing His mind” relate to that?)

After this, the Israelites have another fit of histrionics.
The Israelites said to Moses, “We will die! We are lost, we are all lost! Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the LORD will die. Are we all going to die?” (verses 12–13)
Maybe it’s good that they’ve got a healthy fear of the LORD, but to me, this display doesn’t seem Godly. However, it may simply be 21st Century North American culture clashing with ancient Hebrew culture.


Keep in mind, when I talk about my view of a God who is all-knowing not fitting with the idea of Him “changing His mind,” that it’s my understanding that’s not perfect. I do believe that He is all-knowing, and don’t see myself changing my mind on that point, so it’s the part about Him “changing His mind” that I don’t properly get. Perhaps by the time I’m done blogging through the Old Testament—LORD willing—I’ll have a better understanding of such things.

1 comment:

David Hunter said...

My Verse of the Day seems to fit in nicely with the Thoughts section of this post:

As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother's womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Ecclesiastes 11:5