1 The LORD said to Moses,
2 "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.
3 On the staff of Levi write Aaron's name, for there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral tribe.
4 Place them in the Tent of Meeting in front of the Testimony, where I meet with you.
5 The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites."
6 So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and their leaders gave him twelve staffs, one for the leader of each of their ancestral tribes, and Aaron's staff was among them.
7 Moses placed the staffs before the LORD in the Tent of the Testimony.
8 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.
9 Then Moses brought out all the staffs from the LORD's presence to all the Israelites. They looked at them, and each man took his own staff.
10 The LORD said to Moses, "Put back Aaron's staff in front of the Testimony, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die."
11 Moses did just as the LORD commanded him.
12 The Israelites said to Moses, "We will die! We are lost, we are all lost!
13 Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the LORD will die. Are we all going to die?"
The Foundation of Long-Term Leadership (17:1–7)
The world expects leaders to earn their positions. The Bible is clear, however, that God is the one who appoints people to positions of spiritual leadership. Moses and Aaron have been chosen by God to be the leaders of Israel. Thus, God will not stand idle as people challenge His leaders and thereby question His authority and will. He commands Moses to set up a test through which God will affirm Aaron’s position as high priest and put an end to all the grumbling. Moses is to gather twelve staffs from the tribal leaders, write their names on their staffs, and place the staffs before the LORD. The staff of the man whom God has chosen will sprout. Through this miracle, God will make clear whom He has chosen to come before Him as the representative of the people.
- Positions of spiritual influence are not earned; they are given by the grace and goodness of God. Have you thanked Him for the leaders He has appointed over you?
Stop Complaining about Your Leaders (17:8–13)
The people of God finally realize that they have greatly grieved God and deserve death as their punishment. What is their sin? It is not simply that Korah, Dathan, and Abiram tried to overthrow the leadership of Moses and Aaron or that the Israelites tried to undermine their leaders. It is more fundamental than that. God’s indictment of the Israelites is due to their constant grumbling against Him and His appointed leaders. No matter how many times He disciplines them or affirms His choice of leader, they still find a reason to complain. Our leaders may not be perfect, but they have been given their authority by God. Instead of grumbling against them, we should honor and pray for them.
- Do you ever find yourself complaining about your leaders? Stop complaining about them and honor and pray for them instead.
A letter to God
Dear God, thank you for the opportunities You have given me to be an influence for You. I recognize that they are gracious gifts from You and not my own achievements. I pray for the leaders over me. Give them grace, strength, and wisdom to lead well. In Jesus’ name. Amen.