Even after the earth swallowed up Korah, the Israelite camp still grumbled over Aaron’s appointment as high priest. Many believed Moses had given the job to Aaron because he was his little brother. The rumors of nepotism caused resentment and bitterness.
We don’t know why, but Aaron’s calling was God’s idea. God again grew tired with the murmuring in the parking lot and around kitchen tables. So, he told each tribal leader to bring their staff inscribed with their names. They were placed in the tent of meeting before the ark and left there for the night. Numbers 17:8 says, “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.” The almond blossom is a gorgeous pink and white flower. What a sight to see an old dead piece of wood come to life.
When the Israelites saw the blooming rod their hearts were convicted. In verse 12-13 they bellowed, “We will die! We are all lost! Anyone who even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord will die. Are we all going to die?” Aaron’s rod was from then on placed by the ark of the covenant as a perpetual sign to end the quarreling.
The staff was a symbol of leadership. Everyone with a place of influence had a staff. It was like a six-shooter for a real cowboy. No leader was caught dead without a good staff. It had a practical purpose as well. A tribal leader could point the way, strike the ground for emphasis, lean upon it in contemplation, or use it as a weapon of defense. But in reality, the staff was just an old, dead piece of dried out wood made by man.
Leaders today do not walk around with wooden sticks, but we still have man-made symbols to set us apart. I’m thinking about titles we might be tempted to use, like bishop, apostle, reverend, prophet, or doctor. Some differentiate themselves from the pack by their degrees. Some websites will give you a certificate of ordination for the low price of just $29.99.
In a superficial age that prizes physical fitness and youthfulness, the “it factor” can be personal appearance. We need biceps, a six-pack, expensive hair products, tight t-shirts, skinny jeans, and boots. Nothing wrong with a title, degree, or a nice pair of skinnies if you can get in them.
Remember how unfashionable president Abraham Lincoln was? He was tall and awkward, an always wore baggy black trousers that exposed his ankles. His voice was high pitched, and his hair was never well groomed. On first sight, many could not believe he was the nation’s leader. But when he stood up and began to speak everyone forgot about his appearance. They were drawn in by his person, his mind, and the quality of his character.
The validation Aaron needed came from the Lord. We should not worry so much about convincing others of our calling. Someone said, “If you have to tell everyone you’re the leader, then you’re not the leader.” We can spend too much effort and energy dreaming up ways to promote ourselves and silence critics.
Aaron surrendered to the Lord, gave up his staff, and let it lay in the presence of the Lord. Only then did it come to life. As long as Aaron’s rod remained in the most holy place it continued to bud, blossom, and bear fruit.
Here’s the truth. Like God called Aaron, you have a holy calling. God has called you to be a dad, mom, business leader, friend, pastor, an ambassador for him. The validation for our calling comes from God alone and from time spent in his presence. In our time with Jesus, he produces the fruit we could never create on our own. Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”