Lent Devotion for February 27
Reader: "Write the name of each man…”
Response: “…on his staff.”
SCRIPTURE: Numbers 17:1-13
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 Ark of the Covenant law, 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 covenant law.
8 The next day Moses entered the tent and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the tribe 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 of the leaders took his own staff.
10 The Lord said to Moses, “Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the ark of the covenant law, 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?”
Reader: "The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Have you ever come across people as stubborn as the Israelites in the desert? It seems they were continually rebelling against Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership. In actuality, they were rebelling against God himself. In yesterday’s reading 250 rebels were swallowed up by the ground and buried alive for defying God’s leadership, yet the people blamed Moses and Aaron for “killing the Lord’s people!” A purifying plague ensued with another 14,700 people dying. Demonstrating God’s grace toward this “stiff-necked” people, God directed His chosen leaders, Moses and Aaron, to demonstrate His choice with another demonstration before all the people. The staff was a symbol of authority, of power, of guidance. (It was with the staff that Moses struck the rock for water. It was with his staff that he parted the Red Sea.) God instructed one staff from each of the twelve tribal leaders to be placed before the Ark of the Covenant, which contained the stone table of the Ten Commandments. (That’s where they were kept). The presence of God dwelt above the Ark. The names of the tribes were inscribed on each of the staffs, which were left in the presence of the Lord overnight. When Moses went to gather up the twelve staffs the next day, not only had Aaron’s staff sprouted (the test to show which tribe God had chosen), it alone budded, blossomed, and produced ripe almonds! God was underlining His choice! The tribe of Levi and Aaron (and Moses) were God’s chosen leaders. Aaron’s staff was permanently placed before the Ark as a warning to rebellious people. God made very clear, the tribe of Levi would be the people to attend to the Tabernacle and be responsible for all the aspects of the worship for the nation. Moses and Aaron were God’s choice to lead in the priestly duties, assisted by the Levites. It strikes me how easy it is in the present day to be one of the rebellious Israelites in crabbing about those who lead us. The truth is, in our heart of hearts, we want no one to lead us. We simply want to do what we want to do and leadership of another means we need to accept another’s leadership. I wonder how often the Israelites prayed for Moses and Aaron as they led? I don’t recall ever reading that in the Scriptures. Something for us to think about!
“Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying” by Ken Medema (Watch on YouTube)
Lord God, may I be faithful in honoring and praying for those who lead me in various areas of my life. Forbid it that I should fail in my responsibility to uphold those whom you have allowed in a leadership role, for truly, no one comes into leadership but what you have allowed it. Sometimes that leadership results in good and the advance of your kingdom and other times it causes us to suffer and purify our hearts. In either case, may we be faithful to you as our ultimate Lord. We bow before you offering our heart this day with complete devotion and adoration. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
- Dan Sharp