Monday, October 22, 2012

Jesus Christ the forever living mediator

Numbers 17:8 Now on the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.

Numbers 17 is a rich chapter in that it not only has something to say to the Christian with regards to the Lord being for them, but moreso in pointing us to the ministry of Jesus Christ.  We have already seen how Aaron's ministry and person is a type or pattern of the ministry and Person of Jesus Christ.  Numbers 16:41-50 gave us a pattern of Christ the forever standing mediator.  Just as Aaron stood in place of the people before Holy God, making atonement and shutting down the plague, Christ has moreso done the same in making atonement by the cross and staying the wrath of God on all who believe on Him.

Today we want to consider the significance of the rod of Aaron that budded as revealing to us Christ the Forever Living mediator.

The Rod that Budded - its significance and meaning
In Numbers 17 God had Moses tell the leaders fo the twelve tribes to bring forth their staffs or rods.  Each man was to writer their name on their respective rod, with Aaron writing his name upon the rod of Levi.  Moses was then to place all the rods in the tent of testimony and retrieve them the next morning.  When he did that, the eleven rods remained as they had the day before - dead sticks.  However Aaron's rod had budded almond leaves, flowers and fruit. 

We know from the design of the tabernacle itself that almond nuts, buds and flowers were incorporated in the design.  For example in Exodus 25:31-40 the design of the Golden Lampstand featured such detail.  Undoubtedly God was tying Aaron's identity to the tabernacle in which he ministered. 

Later on in biblical history the prophet Jeremiah, at the onset of his ministry, is shown a vision of an almond tree in Jeremiah 1:11-12 - "The word of the LORD came to me saying, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” And I said, “I see a rod of an almond tree.” 12Then the LORD said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over My word to perform it.”  Undoubtedly God was validating Aaron's future place in His overall redemptive plan for His people. 

Almond trees were usually one of the first trees to bud and sprout in the springtime.  They were marked by showing forth their fruit and flowers before their leaves, a feature quite different from many other plants which put forth their leaves before their fruit.  Furthermore, the word for Almond in the Hebrew language literally means: "to hasten, to quicken", thus God made Aaron's rod to have life that would put forth fruit haralding life and hope amidst death.

Aaron's ministry was being validated by God in the eyes of the people.  His rod alone budded, reminding the people that only through Aaron and his descendants could the nation have the proper representation needed to stand before Holy God. 

How Aaron's Rod points us to Christ, the Forever Living Mediator
We have pointed out in prior blogs that Aaron is a pattern or "type" of Jesus Christ.  Hebrews 5:4-5 states this typology - And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was. 5So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He who said to Him, “YOU ARE MY SON,
TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”.  In other words, when we look at the historical figure of Aaron the High Priest, we can gain a pattern and faint outline of the far superior Priesthood of Jesus Christ.

In Hebrews 9:4 and 11 we see mention of Aaron's rod that budded: "Now even the first covenant had regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary.  4having a golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden jar holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod which budded, and the tables of the covenant".  According to the writer of Hebrews, these details were used by the Holy Spirit to signify the truth revealed in Hebrews 9:11 "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation."  Thus the rod of Aaron says something to us about Jesus Christ and His ministry as the believer's Forever Living Mediator. 

Why Aaron's Rod?  Note from the details we brought out already how this episode in Numbers 17 points the way to Christ the Forever Living Mediator:

1. Resurrection Life.
What is ressurrection life?  It is life that is marked by incorruption and unfading power.  When Moses found that rod, it had life in and of itself.  Christ described how His ressurrection from the dead would be of His own accord. (John 10:17).  We can also note that the Rod of Aaron was placed as a testimony against the rebels. From what we can tell, those leaves, buds and fruit did not wither.  Whenever you take a branch off of a tree, it withers - but Aaron's rod had life in itself.  Ressurrection life is also Divine life.  Moses did not infuse the rod, nor did Aaron.  It was God who did the work. 

2. Resurrection Life is at the heart of faith
When Moses placed that rod at the doorway of the tent of testimony, it convicted the unbelief of the rebels. (Numbers 17:12-13)  Biblical faith has at its heart the very essence of resurrection life.  Romans 6:8-11states - "Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."

Just as Aaron's rod had the miraculous power of God flowing through it, a power that was not part of it before, so it is with the Christian.  Faith had to come to us.  Galatians 3:25-26 25But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus."  It was by grace through faith we believed on Jesus Christ as Savior, Lord and Treasure. (Ephesians 2:8-9)  This faith is tied to the resurrection life that so raised Jesus from the dead - 1 Peter 1:3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."

3. Resurrection life at the heart of faith points us to our Forever Living Mediator
Once Moses put Aaron's Rod in front of the Tent of Testimony, the congregation got the point: Aaron is the representative before God, and that they had better be careful how the treat Him.  The people realized that without proper representation, they were exposed, without a means of defense.  The miracle was used by God to affirm and confirm the identity of Aaron as the rightful mediator between God and the people of that time.  The heart of faith recognizes the constant need for reliance upon Jesus Christ.  Scripture and faith affirm and confirm the forever identity of Jesus Christ as the living mediator between believers and God:

-1 Timothy 2:5-6  "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time."

-1 John 2:1-2 "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world."

-Hebrews 7:24-25 "but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. 25Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."