Numbers Chapter 17

The Israelites struggled with understanding the order of the priesthood and the pattern for being ordained to the priesthood. The Lord had chosen Moses as His prophet. Aaron and his sons were chosen by the Lord, to hold the Melchizedek priesthood and serve in the tabernacle of the congregation. In addition, the Levites were set apart and ordained to the Aaronic priesthood, to assist the sons of Aaron and to bear the tabernacle when they traveled. These men did not choose this of themselves, but followed the plan that the Lord instructed them to follow. There were many thousands more in the host of Israel and some did not have a testimony of this pattern for themselves. Some who had rebelled against God, were destroyed for it. The book of Numbers continues as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and take of every one of them a rod according to the house of their fathers, of all their princes according to the house of their fathers twelve rods: write thou every man’s name upon his rod.
3 And thou shalt write Aaron’s name upon the rod of Levi: for one rod shall be for the head of the house of their fathers.
4 And thou shalt lay them up in the tabernacle of the congregation before the testimony, where I will meet with you.
5 And it shall come to pass, that the man’s rod, whom I shall choose, shall blossom: and I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the children of Israel, whereby they murmur against you.

The patriarch of each family was commanded to take a rod of their father, or of their tribe and to write their name upon the rod. There would be twelve rods for the twelve houses of Israel. Aaron, who was Moses’ elder brother, was to have his name on the rod of the Levites. The rods were then to be placed in the tabernacle of the congregation, where the presence of the Lord would meet them. The chosen rod would blossom as a sign to the Israelites of who was the chosen family to serve with the Lord’s authority and priesthood. This test and sign were to be given to put a stop to the murmurings of the Israelites.

6 And Moses spake unto the children of Israel, and every one of their princes gave him a rod apiece, for each prince one, according to their fathers’ houses, even twelve rods: and the rod of Aaron was among their rods.
7 And Moses laid up the rods before the Lord in the tabernacle of witness.
8 And it came to pass, that on the morrow Moses went into the tabernacle of witness; and, behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi was budded, and brought forth buds, and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds.
9 And Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord unto all the children of Israel: and they looked, and took every man his rod.

Moses told the people what God asked of them, and each prince of the twelve tribes, or patriarch, gave their rod to Moses to be put in the tabernacle of congregation. Here it is called the tabernacle of witness, I think because this was going to be a witness to the people of the will of the Lord. The rod of Aaron budded, blossomed and brought forth almonds. Moses brought the rods out to the people, who took their rods and witnessed the rod of Aaron had been chosen.

10 And the Lord said unto Moses, Bring Aaron’s rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not.
11 And Moses did so: as the Lord commanded him, so did he.
12 And the children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish.
13 Whosoever cometh any thing near unto the tabernacle of the Lord shall die: shall we be consumed with dying?

Moses was told to keep the rod of Aaron as a token against those rebels among them. This proof to those rebels would stop the murmuring and stay the hand of the Lord against them. Moses placed the rod in front of the testimony, as he was commanded. Those who were not authorized to hold the priesthood of the Lord, would die if they attempted to claim the priesthood and it duties for themselves by trying to enter the tabernacle of the congregation. I think that these questions of the children of Israel, were their way of recognizing the will of the Lord.

This witness to the people, was a blessing of mercy. The wrath of God was upon the rebellious host of Israel, but in His mercy, God gave them a sign to understand His will. They had not had the faith to believe upon the words of the prophet, and for this God had every right to destroy them, but He did not. Instead, the Lord helped them to know His will and gave them a warning and a token as a reminder of it. We are required now to be a people of faith. We are asked to believe upon the words of the scriptures and the prophets, both ancient and modern. These stories from the scriptures are a reminder for us, of the will of God. We each need to take it upon ourselves to seek for a testimony of these things and allow the spirit to be our own personal witness. I am grateful for the desire I have to gain a testimony of these things. The scriptures are a real treasure in my life. The spirit has taught me truth as I have been studying and trying to understand what God wants for me.

Challenge: Is there a principle of the gospel that you do not understand, as the Israelites did not understand the order of the priesthood? Have you studied it out? Take the time now, to study, pray and ponder about these things. If you truly desire for understanding and truth, the spirit can teach you. God blesses those who faithfully seek for these things.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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