Numbers 17–18, Psalm 55, Isaiah 7, James 1

DateVersionReading Plan
@May 9, 2024ESV (2016)M’Cheyne Plan 2024

Numbers 17–18

Numbers 17:1–2, 5, 8 (ESV) 1 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the people of Israel, and get from them staffs, one for each fathers’ house, from all their chiefs according to their fathers’ houses, twelve staffs. Write each man’s name on his staff, … 5 And the staff of the man whom I choose shall sprout. Thus I will make to cease from me the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against you.” … 8 On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony, and behold, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.

The LORD told Moses to collect a staff from each of the chiefs among the tribes of Israel and that He would choose one among them to sprout. The staff that sprouted was appointed the right of priesthood and was to halt the grumbling of the people against divinely ordained authority. The day after collecting the staffs, Moses went into the tent of the testimony and found that the staff of Aaron had budded, thus settling that God had chosen the household of Aaron to minister as priests. We see in this God’s hand in calling those who were to have earthly charge over the people.

Psalm 55

Psalm 55:12–15 (ESV) 12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me— then I could hide from him. 13 But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. 14 We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng. 15 Let death steal over them; let them go down to Sheol alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart.

David laments not over an enemy that has dealt insolently with him but a companion and friend. However painful it is to be dealt such blows from an adversary, it is all the more when they come from someone close. The intimacy once shared in fellowship and taking counsel together is eroded and the trust between you shattered. The sin of man prevents our ultimate dependability on him, for even the most dignified will surely die. Our hearts must be exclusively set on Christ, our Friend that can never falter, our Rock that can never be shaken.

Isaiah 7

Isaiah 7:14 (ESV) 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

A sign would be given Ahaz “and the house of David (plural “you”)…that He was with His people-even though the king refused to ask for one.” (Constable’s Notes). As the Believer’s Bible Commentary points out, this “Verse…points irresistibly to Christ—the Son of the virgin whose name indicates that He is Immanuel, God-with-us.” Isaiah is here introducing something that will later come to pass, the condescension of God in the person and work of Christ.

James 1

James 1:2–4 (ESV) 2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

James professes the certainty of meeting trials and exhorts the church to count it all joy. Not in the fair-weather seasons do we experience the testing of our faith but in the struggles and difficulties. It is a question of constitution, a willingness to endure pain, realizing that this leads to greater strength, integrity and steadfastness of faith. By this we can have joy, knowing the full effect of our being perfected and completed to lack in nothing.

Carson on Numbers 17-18

One must ask why God attaches so much importance to the fact that only the designated high priest may perform the priestly duties. We must not infer that this is the way we should defer to all Christian leaders. Within the canonical framework, much more than this is at stake in the account of Aaron’s rod that budded. The point is that only God’s prescribed high priest is acceptable to God for discharging the priestly office…The New Testament insists, “No one takes the honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was” (Heb. 5:4). So also Christ (Heb. 5:5)! Only God’s appointed priest will do.

Carson ties the nomination of Aaron as priest to the New Testament understanding that every church leader must be called by God. Only those who have clearly received this calling should be so appointed, placing strict guidelines around those aspiring the office and noble task of overseer.