Your Heart in the Presence of God (part 3 of 5)

Aaron’s Rod Redo

DISCLAIMER:  This is a redo from the previous go around as I realized I didn’t have peace about the previous result and felt like I went down the wrong trail.  I’m not the first man to admit he was wrong.  🙂  I like this version much better.  It starts the same, but finishes in a different place.

As a recap from part 2, we are looking at what Mosaic covenant symbols might mean in light of a new covenant.  Particularly, I wrote that the ark of the covenant is a metaphor for your heart.  The intended destiny for your heart is to be in the presence of God, 24×7.  Inside the ark were a pot of manna, a rod, and two tablets (Hebrews 9:4).  In this section we’ll look at the symbol of the rod and how this maps to hope.  By the way, rod and staff are mostly used interchangeably.

Numbers 17:1-8
1 The LORD instructed Moses:
2 “Speak to the Israelites and take one staff from them for each ancestral house, 12 staffs from all the leaders of their ancestral houses. Write each man’s name on his staff.
3 Write Aaron’s name on Levi’s staff, because there must be one staff for the head of each ancestral house.
4 Then place them in the tent of meeting in front of the testimony where I meet with you.
5 The staff of the man I choose will sprout, and I will rid Myself of the Israelites’ complaints that they have been making about you.”
6 So Moses spoke to the Israelites, and each of their leaders gave him a staff, one for each of the leaders of their ancestral houses, 12 staffs in all. Aaron’s staff was among them.
7 Moses placed the staffs before the LORD in the tent of the testimony.
8 The next day Moses entered the tent of the testimony and saw that Aaron’s staff, representing the house of Levi, had sprouted, formed buds, blossomed, and produced almonds!

Of course, in context, the staff is seen as a symbol of authority.  Authority was being contested.  Yet, whose authority was it, man’s or God’s?  Reading further in the text reveals that the purpose of the supernatural demonstration was to stop their grumbling.  We, however, are looking for a life-giving understanding of the symbol in the context of a new and better covenant.  Yeshua came to bring abundant life not condemnation.

As we discussed in a previous section, the Hebraic way of understanding a symbol is looking at what something does.

The Hebrew word translated here as rod or staff comes from the Hebrew word ‘Matteh.’  It can also translate as tribe, branch, or vine.  However, in this case its natural function doesn’t help understand the symbol.  We will need to look at how God used the symbol in previous scriptural references.  In Exodus 4, God supernaturally transforms Moses’ staff into a snake and back into a staff again.  God’s power and authority were demonstrated.  In the beginning of Exodus 3, Moses was tending sheep giving us the impression that this ‘matteh’ had the appearance of being an ordinary shepherd’s staff.   Later in Exodus, we see Moses and Aaron seemingly sharing the same staff as more signs are given towards Pharoah, such as turning the Nile to blood (Exodus 7).  Generally speaking the usage of the word ‘Matteh’ in scripture was for ruling and exercising dominion.

Why are the Israelites complaining?  What is this really about?  The complaints begin with Miriam in Numbers 12 regarding Moses being the only one to hear from God.  It continues to build with the sons of Korah not being content with their roles as Levites and not being the chosen one to go into the temple.  Really?  Or perhaps would they like to run things differently.  What I see at the heart of all this is jealously, even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense.  With great privilege comes great responsibility.  One wrong move on Aaron’s part and the others would have to drag him by his ankles out of the temple, dead on arrival.  I wouldn’t want Aaron’s job.

Why are they jealous of Aaron?  I believe it is because he was chosen.  Don’t we all want to be chosen?  Don’t we all want to be special and have some sense of powerful purpose?  I think many of us fear a life without meaning.

In context, I believe Aaron’s rod represents the hope of God’s power.  I believe we all have a need to feel powerful.  That’s why superhero movies are so popular.  Powerlessness leads to hopelessness.  If we see God’s power demonstrated even once, it gives us hope that he will do it again.

About five years ago I prayed for a family member whose hand was stuck with arthritis and pain (think claw).  I watched as I held her hand, prayed, and waited for God to heal her.  After a bit I could see all the inflammation draining out of her hand.  To the astonishment of both of us, all the pain and inflammation left her hand and full mobility was restored (it had been crippled for about eighteen months).  Her healing remained months later.  The most beautiful part of the whole process was the Holy Spirit whispering to my heart that the healing was just an expression of His love for her.

Having seen that power demonstrated gives me hope that God will do it again, even if I haven’t seen it since then.  I experientially know that He can.

In the new covenant Paul writes that the same power that raised Jesus from the lives in you.

Hope in a body resurrected is certainly part of what we are to carry in our hearts.  In context, God took a dead stick and supernaturally brought it to new life.  Like the rod, God has the power to raise you from the dead and bring you into a resurrected life.

We don’t need to fear and worry about our health or what the future holds.  The world worries about those things.  One of the scriptures that helps me to focus is 2 Timothy 1:7, “He hasn’t given us a spirit of fear [or worry], but of love, power, and a sound mind.”

The promises of God can give us hope as an anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6:19).  A promise that gives me hope and stabilizes my heart is when Yeshua tells me “never will I leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

In our text, the rod supernaturally sprouted buds, blossoms, and even produced almonds!

In Israel, almond trees would first begin to blossom in the month of Adar (February) after the coldest and darkest month of the year.  The almond tree was a sign of hope and marked the new season of life.

Almonds were the fruit of the branch.  The fruit of hope and remaining in Yeshua.  Like the branch in the ark, the fruit is to be eternal and born of hope.

As we remain in Yeshua, we will bear fruit.

John 15:16
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name, the Father will give you.”

There are specific things that God has called you to do (Ephesians 2:10).  I am not called to those same things as you are.  In fact, comparing ourselves with others does not often bring life.  Jealousy and strife resulted from the Israelites going after Aaron’s calling.

Remaining in His presence will encourage your heart.  As you remain in this place of hope, fruit will happen.  It won’t look the same as the fruit that I am called to bear, but it will be good and look like life.

Your heart belongs in the presence of God.  Ask Him what He would say to you.  Ask Him what it means to have your hope in Him.  Hope looks like something.

To be continued (tablets)…


Your Heart in the Presence of God (part 2 of 5)

As a recap from part 1, we are looking at what Mosaic covenant symbols might mean in light of a new covenant. Particularly, I wrote that the ark of the covenant is a metaphor for your heart. The intended destiny for your heart is to be in the presence of God, 24×7. Inside the ark were a pot of manna, a rod, and two tablets (Hebrews 9:4). In this section we’ll look at the symbol of manna and how this maps to faith.

Exodus 16:31-32

31 The house of Israel named the substance manna. It resembled coriander seed, was white, and tasted like wafers made with honey.

32 Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: Two quarts of it are to be preserved throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread I fed you in the wilderness when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.

The Hebrew word for manna is pronounced ‘men’ meaning “what is it?” Manna has the Hebrew root expression ‘mah’ which means “what.” Bread and wine are rich symbols that followers of Yeshua take in to their hearts during communion. The wine represents our acceptance of Yeshua’s blood sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. That part is pretty straight forward. I would suggest that many of Yeshua’s followers don’t really know what to make of the bread. Like the house of Israel, we ask “what is it?” If you are like me you may have wrestled with the account in chapter 6 of John’s gospel many times. In the context of communion, my working definition of taking in the bread is that of an exchanged life. An acceptance and trust of His life for ours. But what does manna symbolize in it’s original context?

A Hebraic way of thinking is looking at what something does or its function. A Greek way of thinking is looking at its form or appearance. For dreams and this exercise, what is the function of manna in the original text of Exodus 16? We will also look at how Jesus redefines the symbol towards Himself in John 6, where He proclaims “I AM the bread of life.”

The function of manna was to demonstrate God’s supernatural ability to provide Israel with life from heaven. In particular, in context, the people of Israel were going through a wilderness season, i.e. a time of drought and testing.  Like the ark, the pot was a container.  They generally needed to have enough to make it one day at a time.  The Israelites had to learn to rely on this supernatural provision for forty years.

So the manna provided for Israel in the wilderness. So what? What does manna mean to me in light of the new covenant?

I believe manna represents God’s ability to sustain me when I go through times of wilderness in my life. The manna hidden in my heart represents the faith that I carry regarding the faithfulness of God.

These wilderness seasons are not exclusive to me. I believe that everyone will go through a wilderness season at some time in their lives, whether we like it or not, or even believe it or not. Jesus is described as the first born of many siblings (Hebrews 2:11).

Jesus, as our prototype, also went through this same season of wilderness and testing (Matthew 4). Regarding the manna, Jesus quoted this passage from Deuteronomy when He was being tested in the wilderness.

Deuteronomy 8:3

3 He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

An interesting thing to note is that the word “word” is not in the Hebrew. I believe the last phrase would be more accurately translated “man lives by everything that comes from the mouth of God (Yahweh).

If you search the scriptures for life-giving references to the phrase “mouth of God”, you will find the following expressions: creation (something from nothing), instructions, the mouth of a prophet, and His promises. That which comes from the mouth of God generally needs to be received in faith to bring life to your heart.

He speaks his word through many forms and ways. Scripture is one of the obvious ways. One thing that the world wants the church community to admit is that God is bigger than the Bible. How big is your God? The Bible can give us instruction but does not automatically provide an experience with God. That comes through relationship. God can prophesy through man, nature, a sign, a donkey, a vision or a dream. For example, the prophetic word for Joseph’s life came to him in the form of a dream (Psalm 105:19).

If the function of the manna in Exodus was to give life from heaven, the expression of life is magnified in Christ in John chapter 6.

John 6:31-35,47-51

31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, just as it is written: He gave them bread from heaven to eat.

32 Jesus said to them, “I assure you: Moses didn’t give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the real bread from heaven.

33 For the bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 Then they said, “Sir, give us this bread always!”

35 “I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.

47 I assure you: Anyone who believes has eternal life.

48 I am the bread of life.

49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.

50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die.

51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”


Whereas life from manna was temporary, the true bread of heaven gives us the assurance of eternal life for everyone who believes.

The most important word that you can carry in your heart is Christ. It is Christ, the Word in you, that is the hope of glory.

He is faithful and able to perform His word spoken to your heart, including His ability to give you eternal life.

Few of us would choose or deliberately initiate a difficult wilderness season, yet it is there that God demonstrates His ability to sustain us and show Himself faithful. I believe that his word coming to pass during a wilderness season teaches our hearts a living faith that a land of ease can not.

Like the Israelites, a wilderness season is met one day at a time.  We need encouragement (having our faith-tanks full) to take each day as it comes.

What are the dreams and promises that God has spoken to your heart? What are the scriptures you need to encourage your heart?

Jesus is praying for your heart.

To be continued…