Aaron’s Rod


Contents in the Ark

The picture shows a model of the Ark, where the lid has been removed so you can see the contents that fit inside the Ark:

1. The two stone tablets of the Law.

2. Aaron’s rod that budded.

3. The golden pot of ‘hidden’ manna.

Together these three items form the Testimony, Exodus 25:21 ‘Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law that I will give you,’ hence the Ark is called the Ark of the Testimony.

Aaron’s Rod that Budded A little history is required to begin with, the account is in Numbers 16. A short while after the Tabernacle had been functioning; one of the priests, ‘Korah’ and some others mounted a challenge to the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Couched in language that was very spiritual, Korah reasoned ‘aren’t all the Lord’s people holy? Isn’t He among all of them? Why are Moses and Aaron the only leaders? It’s too much for them to cope with’.

Korah’s partners were not priests. Their line of reasoning was totally anti-God’s word, ‘Moses, you’ve brought us away from a land flowing with milk and honey (Egypt) into this desert. Where is this land flowing with milk and honey that you promised us? Do you think we’re all blind?’

This was an outright lie, Egypt had meant toil and miserable hardship, bitter tears and hopelessness, but after a few months of building a beautiful Tabernacle, the memory of that slavery was fading, hence the challenge.

Moses instructed everyone to appear before the Lord the next day. They were to fill bronze incense burners and place them before the Lord. God was furious and judged Korah and his cronies. Their censors became used in the covering for the Burnt Offering Altar, as a reminder of God’s wrath from heaven against the ones who had spoken so vehemently against Him and those He had chosen, Numbers 16:29.

But the incident did not finish there. The whole congregation then started to murmur against Moses and Aaron because they had ‘killed the Lord’s people’.

Again, God reacted furiously and plague broke out, quenched only when Aaron obeyed Moses and placed his incense burner before the Lord in the Tabernacle. The plague had exacted a devastating toll on the people and God had proved negatively that Moses and Aaron were indeed his choice.

However, God wanted to prove positively that Aaron was his choice for the priesthood, Numbers 17:5.

A rod from the head of each of the twelve tribes was marked with the name of the tribe and placed before the Lord, at Ark of the Testimony, Numbers 17:4.

When Moses returned the next day, Aaron’s rod had budded with sprouts, yielding blossoms and ripe almonds. God instructed Moses to place Aaron’s rod back before the Testimony, ‘to be kept as a sign against the rebels’ to prevent further murmurings and death. Numbers 17:10.

That is the history. The application comes in John 11. Jesus’ friend Lazarus is quite seriously ill. Jesus loved the family: Lazarus, Martha and Mary. But Jesus did not go to see them straightaway, He waited two days. This caused a lot of murmuring and reasoning. The first bunch of murmurers and reasoners were the disciples, especially when Jesus (without being told) announces that Lazarus has fallen asleep, John 11:11 / John 11:14.

The next bunch of murmurers and reasoners were Martha and Mary and the mourners. Martha can’t wait to tell Jesus what she thinks, meeting Him on the road. Mary was less vociferous, but still made the same observation as Martha: ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died’. John 11:21-32.

It looks really bad. Jesus has let everybody down, just what the ‘press’ wanted to ‘publish’. It is in this very environment of death, despair and hopelessness that Jesus announces ‘I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.’ John 11:25

Jesus asks Martha if she believes. She gives a reply that is doctrinally superb, ‘she believes Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God who is come into the world.’ John 11:27

She avoids answering Jesus’ actual question because her theology is already ‘at the back of her mind’ due to her grief. Some of the others begin to question even whether He is the Messiah. After all, if Jesus can make the blind to see, a strong proof He is the Messiah, Isaiah 42:1 / Isaiah 42:7.

Why couldn’t He have prevented Lazarus from dying? Jesus had no intention of preventing Lazarus from dying. He appears to have had every intention of waiting until he had died, so that people would see the glory of God appear in the Tabernacle, Jesus Christ, and that many would believe in(to) Him, ‘into’ is the literal Greek. John 11:40 / John 11:15 / John 11:45.

Lazarus was not just a piece of wood, lopped from an almond tree somewhere, like Aaron’s rod had been. Lazarus was a full scale human being, a dear friend, now, after being dead for four days in Israel, undoubtedly decomposing rapidly, damaged beyond hope.

‘Take away the stone’. ‘Father I thank You that You have heard Me’ (He had already been at the Golden Incense Altar praying) ‘Lazarus, come forth’. ‘Loose him! Let him go!’

What a sign of the Messiah! Who could doubt now that Jesus is who He says He is, the Resurrection and the Life? Only those who were masterminding the plan to kill Him, John 11:47-54.

But even they were under God’s sovereign masterful arrangement.

So much of the Tabernacle’s history and the Temple’s history is upsetting and disappointing. But today, thousands of years later, people are still very eager to learn about the Tabernacle and the Temple. This has much to do with the Ark of the Covenant, which, for at least part of its history, contained the budding rod that is fulfilled in Jesus, who is the Resurrection and the Life!

Aaron’s rod that budded was a sign of God’s continued choice of Aaron as a priest, Numbers 17:5 ‘The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites.’

But Aaron’s priesthood was interrupted by his death. The Lord Jesus Christ, though, has a priesthood that is constituted with an indestructible life, Hebrews 7:16.

He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, Hebrews 7:25.



"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."