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"The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron's staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds." Numbers 17:8

A new miracle now meets us. It is God's work. It is the Spirit's record. Therefore it stands here for our souls' profit. A withered rod, long severed from the parent stem, in which all vital juice was dried, sprouts in fresh verdure. Buds show their infant forms, and clustering blossoms open, while fruit in ripe luxuriance hangs.

This fact claims special thought, from its position in the sacred page. It raises a conspicuous head high in a vast field of miracle. Israel's whole journey is a chain of marvels. The falling manna--the guiding cloud--the flowing stream--prove heavenly care. Each day evidences, that omnipotence is active for them. But here a fresh prodigy starts to life. God superadds another sign to win confiding trust.

To us this story of the Budded Rod now comes. May He, who wrought the wonder, work wonders through it for our growth in grace!

But before we view it with a nearer eye, we must not disregard the preceding notes. The faithless spies draw an appalling picture of the searched land. The fortresses defy assault. The men are giants. Israel's hosts are less than insects at their feet. Such is their evil record. And it is received. Hearts quake. Blaspheming tongues reproach their guiding God.

Thus nature shows its proneness to doubt, to tremble, and to distrust. But such UNBELIEF brings misery in its train. It is a seed, from which ill ever springs. It changes blessings into curse. It arms the hand of love with an avenging scourge.

So now wrath instantly goes forth. The murmuring hosts are doomed to turn their back upon the home just reached. The wilderness must be re-entered. They now must wander up and down for forty years. Thus their bright prospects end in darkest night. Their hopes of rest--almost attained--are gone. They must wear out in woe their dismal days.

Distrust! truly you are the parent of all woe! My soul, never distrust--cleave fast to God--cast deep your anchor in His word--bear all things--suffer all pains--but never let one rebel doubt arise.

Pause now, and pray, "O Spirit of the living God, never withdraw--leave me not to the fears, which sense and folly would excite. Lord, I believe; help my unbelief."

Surely the downcast host will now tread tremblingly their retrogressing path--their lips will now be sad with penitence and shame. They, who so reason, are yet blind to the deep roots of sin. As there is no mercy, which man's heart will not abuse, so there is no judgment, which it will not proudly scorn. Open rebellion soon follows these murmurs and this punishment. Korah and his company dispute the rule of Moses. They challenge it, as usurpation and self-arrogance. Thus God's authority is dethroned. But these leaders are leading at His call. Therefore, to revile them is to revile His will.

Instantly terrific vengeance vindicates God's ways. Moses proclaims the near approach of impending wrath; and, "He had hardly finished speaking the words when the ground suddenly split open beneath them. The earth opened up and swallowed the men, along with their households and the followers who were standing with them, and everything they owned. So they went down alive into the grave, along with their belongings. The earth closed over them, and they all vanished." Numbers 16:31-33

Again we are disposed to cry, 'surely now rebellion must be buried in that grave! Surely obedience now will meekly walk with God!' But we soon find, that sin has seeds so deep, and fibers so far-spreading, that while most withering judgments are descending, it still will germinate and bring forth its weeds.

The morrow dawns, but not to see contrition in each face. No, rather, it finds one flood of universal rage. The camp is indignant against the servants of the Lord. The whole assembly raises the cry, "You have killed the people of the Lord," But sin cannot thus sin, and wrath not multiply to punish. A slaying plague speeds forth. It rapidly mows down the God-defying host. Moses beseeches Aaron to rush forth. He grasps his censer--fills it with incense--adds the altar-fire--and takes his station between the living and the dead. God sees the mediating high-priest–the type of His dear Son. The sight checks wrath. But still a plague-struck pile stands, as a mighty pyramid--a monument of sin's deserts.

Now, at this moment, God gives the miracle of the Budded Rod. Another sign now shames unbelieving doubts, and pictures Gospel-truth. The people had scorned Aaron's priestly rights. God's overflowing love selects this very time to add confirmation of His choice. Twelve rods are taken. Each bears the name of the chief ruler of a tribe. They are deposited before the ark. Thus the night passes. When the morrow comes, Moses re-enters. Eleven lie, as they were placed, withered, lifeless, dry. The twelfth, engraved with Aaron's name, is changed--most marvelously changed! Verdure adorns it--but not verdure only. No branch was ever so enriched. Blossoms are joined to buds. And amid blossoms ripe fruits swell. Man's hand has no share here. The proof of God's immediate power appears in every part. The rod, thus vivified, is to be kept a constant sign. God's voice commands, "Bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a sign against the rebels." Numb. 17:10.

Let us now advance from the ancient record, to the still-living Gospel of the fact. The Rod in many graphic tints shows Jesus. The very name is caught by raptured prophets. Hark, how they announce Him. "There shall come forth a Rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots." Is. 11:1. "Behold the man, whose name is The Branch; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord--and He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon His throne--and He shall be a Priest upon His throne." Zech. 6:12-13. Thus faith gleans lessons from the very title--Rod.

But the grand significance of the type is to REJECT ALL RIVALS. It sets Aaron alone upon the priestly seat. The parallel proclaims, that similarly JESUS is our only Priest. God calls--anoints--appoints--accepts, and ever hears Him--but Him alone. In His hands only do these functions live. He sprinkles the true mercy-seat with ever-pleading blood. He bears His people's name upon His breast. He perfumes all their petitions--praises--service, with meritorious fragrance. He intercedes, and they are pardoned. He blesses, and all blessings crown them. But He shares not the glory with a colleague. They, who seek God with censers of their own, like Korah scorn the only avenue--like Korah rush to ruin. My soul, be satisfied with Jesus. Shout–"None but the consecrated God-man--He is my total Priest--I need no more."

Next, the constant luxuriance has a clear voice. In nature's field, buds--blossoms--fruit, soon wither. The grove--the garden--lovely in spring--laden in autumn--soon droop. Not so this Rod. Its rich abundance was forever rich. Its verdure was forever green. Its fruit was ever ripe. Beside the ark it was reserved in never-fading beauty. Here is the ever-blooming Priesthood of our Lord. "You are a Priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek." Ps. 110:4. "This man--because He continues forever--has an unchangeable Priesthood." Heb. 7:24. What joy--what rapture fills the heart of faith, when with adoring eye it looks aloft and sees its ever-living High-Priest on the throne! At every moment Jesus stands in all the freshness of salvation's vigor. Our prayers are ofttimes cold and languid. Our lips are dull to speak. Our thoughts stray far away. Petitions are as an intermitting stream. The channel sometimes is quite dry. It is not so in heaven. There, always is full tide of priestly mediation. Here is the cause why saints prevail, and grace survives. Hence Satan with all his legioned host is beaten back. Hence faith's tiny bark rides on the crest of mountain-waves, and safely reaches the blest haven. Hence plans for Gospel-progress triumph. Because Christ ever lives, and ever loves, and ever prays, and ever works, therefore His kingdom swells.

And so it shall be, while the need remains. But when the last of the redeemed is safely gathered in, then heaven shall no more hear the interceding Priest. Then the one sound from the vast throng shall be--Hallelujah. Thus the Rod, ever fresh--shows Jesus ever mighty in His Priestly power.

Mark, moreover, that types of Jesus often comprehend the CHURCH. It is so with these rods. The twelve rods at first seem all alike. They are all sapless twigs. The same grove saw their birth. Man's eye sees but one likeness in their dry forms. But suddenly one puts forth loveliness--while the others still remain worthless and withered. Here is a picture of God's dealings with a sin-slain race. Since Adam's fall, all are born lifeless branches of a withered stock. Many abide so, and thus pass as fuel to the quenchless fire. But in a chosen remnant, a new birth occurs. The grave sprouts into life. The sapless put forth buds. Blossoms appear. Fruit ripens. Whence is the difference? It is not nature's work. No dry stick can restore itself. No withered helplessness can deck itself with verdure. This cannot be. When any child of man arises from the death of sin, and blooms in grace, God has arisen with divine almightiness. Free, sovereign love decrees renewal. Boundless power achieves it.

Believer, the Budded Rod gives another warning. It is a picture of LUXURIANCE. Turn from it and look inward. Is your soul thus richly fertile? Is life in you abundant life? Where are the almonds? They are rare. Instead of fruit, you often yield the thorn. Should it be so? "Herein is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, so shall you be My disciples." John 15:8. Whence is the fault? Why is the stem thus bare? The fertilizing means abound. Perhaps they are little heeded. "Abide in Me and I in you--as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can you, except you abide in Me." John 15:4. Perhaps your neglectful soul departs from Christ. Thus fructifying sap is checked. Thus bloom is nipped. Thus early buds fall off. You leave the sunny slopes of Zion's hill. You stray into the chilly marshes of the world. Then blight and mildew mar the expected fruit. The Word is not the daily food. Hence the roots drink not renovating moisture--and the withered leaf drops off. Meditate in God's law day and night, and you "shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of waters, that brings forth his fruit in his season--his leaf also shall not wither--and whatever he does shall prosper." Ps. 1:3.

But if the Budded Rod rebukes the scanty fruit in the newborn soul, what is its voice to unregenerate worldlings? Alas! these are a forest of sticks, wholly dry. The curse, which fell on Eden's garden, blasted their nature to the core. Thus withered they were born. Thus withered they continue. What will their end be? That end draws near. What then awaits them? Can they be beams and rafters in the palace of heaven's King! Oh! no. The decree is sure. Faithfulness has warned. Almighty power will execute. "That, which bears thorns and briers, is rejected, and is near unto cursing, whose end is to be burned." Heb. 6:8.


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