In Chapter 16 the authority of Moses and the Priesthood of Aaron had been questioned.
This questioning resulted in the death of Korah and his followers.
The seriousness of questioning God’s ways is demonstrated also by what happened to Miriam. See Chapter 12.
Note again how clearly God said he would distinguish between a prophet and His servant Moses.
Verses 6-8 of Chapter 12.
In Chapter 17 God speaks more spectacularly in Aaron’s rod that budded, vindicating His choice of His servant.
Describe this scene.
Twelve rods were taken, one for the head of each tribe. Each man’s name was put on the rods. They were then put in the tabernacle.
God said in verse 5, “The man’s rod whom I shall choose shall blossom.”
God is making known once for all the man of His choice.
See verse 8. Aaron’s rod budded, bloomed blooms, and brought forth almonds.
v. 12-13 When the people saw this they were afraid.
v. 10 After the people had seen this miracle and knew God’s will, Moses was instructed to put the rod in the ark of the covenant.
The ark of the covenant contained:
1. The golden pot of manna.
2. Aaron’s rod that budded.
3. The tablets on which the law was engraved.
Typically the rod that came to life again (budded) speaks of the resurrection of Christ.
This reminds us that the rod that came to life again proved the priesthood of Aaron.
The resurrection of Christ tells us that we have a high priest in the presence of God.
The Rock of Meribah
The events of this incident constitute one of the most crucial moments in the life of Moses.
In one brief moment, by one impulsive act, this great man of God, possibly the greatest character in the O.T., forfeited his opportunity to lead Israel into the Promised Land.
The act described in this passage meant that Moses, instead of experiencing the incomparable thrill of leading Israel across Jordan and into the Promised Land, had to die in the wilderness and be buried by the Lord on a lonely mountain top within sight of the land.
Notice at this point the sin of Moses.
See verse 8, “Speak to the rock,” and it shall give forth water.
See verse 10.
Moses lost his temper. “Hear now you rebels.”
Then he gave the impression that he and Aaron would bring water from the rock. Must we fetch you water out of this rock! Then finally he spoke to the people and smote the rock, twice, verse 11.
Despite this, God graciously gave water, verse 11.
v. 12 God told Moses and Aaron that because of this disobedience and unbelief they would not lead Israel into the promised land.
To gather the full meaning of Moses’ mistake, we must refer to the account of Moses obtaining water at Horeb.
There he was told to smite the rock. Exodus 17
Thirty years later he was told to speak to the rock.
The rock speaks of Christ. 1 Corinthians 10:14
1. Horeb speaks of Him on the cross, wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities.
2. Meribah speaks of Christ as the resurrected High Priest.
The Hebrew words used to describe these rocks are interesting.
In Exodus 17, “Tsor” is used, which means “a low rock.”
In Numbers 20, “Sela” is used, meaning “cliff or high rock.”
First, then, we see Him in His redemptive work on the cross.
Secondly, we see Him in the High Priestly work after His resurrection, ascension, and exaltation to the Father’s right hand.
Note now the two rods used in both instances.
The rod at Horeb was a rod of judgment.
Exodus 17:5 “Take they rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.”
On the cross our Lord was smitten by the rod of judgment as He made His soul an offering for sin.
The rod of Meribah was the rod of Aaron, the high priest, the rod that budded, the rod that spoke of the type of His resurrection and His High Priestly ministry.
This was the “rod from before the Lord.” Numbers 20:9
The exalted Christ should not have been smitten.