So the children of Israel spoke to Moses, saying, “Surely we die, we perish, we all perish! Whoever even comes near the tabernacle of the Lord must die.” (Numbers 17:12-13)
For all the attention that Aaron’s rod garnered through this incident — and it was indeed merited attention — what we should not overlook is the fact that the other eleven rods did not blossom, much less bear fruit. There was a message in that as well: if you are going to approach the Almighty improperly, you risk death. So it seems that, to the people at large, Aaron’s rod symbolized death to them, hence the statement, “Whoever even comes near the Tabernacle must die.” In other words, Aaron’s rod may not have been looked upon with favor and respect but with disdain and fear.
Along with Aaron’s rod, a golden pot containing a measure of manna was stored in the Sanctuary as well, and for essentially the same purpose — as a sign to future generations (Exodus 16:33). Interestingly, the people had disdained the God-given manna too, preferring instead to eat the meat and vegetables provided for them in Egypt. The point is, God instructed that both these items — things the people seemed to loathe — to be placed before Him. That which the people longed for — those things that appealed to their flesh — were not to come near Him.
The people of Israel feared that anyone who happened to venture too close to the Tabernacle would die, and frankly, in a polluted and unclean state, that fear was well placed. But the greater point is this — if we wish to approach a holy God, we must be willing to die. In their carnality, the people loathed what God had for them and loved what their flesh longed for. That was the problem and that is exactly what we must be willing to die to. We must learn to loathe what our evil inclination demands and love what our flesh abhors.
That notion goes against everything the world teaches us but that is exactly why we need to remember that, though in the world, we are not part of this world. Furthermore, in Messiah — the One who overcame the world — we can overcome the evil inclination inherent within all of us. As born again believers, let us not disdain the heavenly bread He feeds us nor disrespect the authority His Word has over our lives. Rather let us embrace those things our flesh resists that we may truly live an abundant life and produce the fruit our Father expects of us.
Blessings and Shalom,