This chapter contains one of my favorite Bible verses. But I doubt it’s one that makes the usual "Top Ten" list of most-quoted Scripture: "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." (vs 8)
I laugh every time I read this verse. And as I have come slowly, chapter-by-chapter, to this point, it now holds all the more significance. God had just finished dealing with some major Israelite rebellion. After the people had reached the edge of the Promised Land and realized that they weren’t going to be going in after all, they were fit to be tied. In their desperation and anger, they resolved to overthrow Moses and Aaron, their God-appointed leaders.
Their zeal for new leadership led them to question whether God Himself had ever appointed these two men in the first place. (If you remember from chapter 16, the accusation against Moses wasn’t necessarily that he was a bad leader, but that he was an imposter.) And so, even though God dealt swiftly with the rebellion, the people were still grumbling, and perhaps many of them were still questioning if God was really with Moses and Aaron.
So, God asks Moses to take one staff from each of the tribes of Israel — twelve in all. Each staff would represent the head of the tribe. Thus, in the case of the Levite tribe, the staff represented Aaron. Then God told Moses, "Place them in the tent of meeting in front of the ark of the covenant law, where I meet with you. The staff belonging to the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites." (vs 4-5)
Seems reasonable enough. And that’s where my favorite verse comes in. By the next morning, not only had Aaron’s staff sprouted, but it had budded, blossomed, and produced almonds. I love it!
Do you know how long it takes to grow almonds? A whole year! Almond trees begin to bud in the fall, and they blossom slowly through the spring. Finally the fruit appears, and the following September, the almonds may be harvested. God caused Aaron’s staff to do overnight what normally takes 365 days.
After this, could there be any doubt? If anyone from any tribe ever stepped forward again to challenge Aaron’s high priest position, his staff — complete with buds, blossoms, and almonds — would remain in the sanctuary as a continual reminder that God had chosen him. At last, this seemed to quell the rebellion. By the end of the chapter, the people’s energy had turned from overthrowing God’s government to wondering whether they were all going to perish.
So, for me, here’s the point. Have you ever wondered how you could really know the truth? Ever wished you could "set out the fleece" for God (just like Gideon did) and receive a definitive sign? Well, you’ll be happy to know that God speaks sign language. That is, He is not shy about giving us signs when we need them.
God is not in the business of leaving us in the dark! Remember, He is called the Light of the World. That’s why this chapter reminded me of another favorite Bible passage of mine in Romans 1: "The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." (vs 18-20)
What this says to me is that God doesn’t leave any of us in the dark. He provides clear and convincing evidence about who He is and His plan for us. It’s up to us to decide what we will do with that conviction — whether we will accept it or reject it. But don’t ever think that God wants us to wander around in confusion. He speaks sign language fluently! If you need a sign, He’ll give you one!