“It will come about that the rod of the man whom I choose will sprout. Thus I will lessen from upon Myself the grumblings of the sons of Israel, who are grumbling against you.” (Numbers 17:5)
They really felt that they had a point. Korah and his cohorts wanted to go back to the old form of leadership. Before Sinai the heads of the families exercised joint authority within each tribe. But afterward Aaron’s family had charge of the sanctuary. The rest of the Levites, though set apart too, served outside the veil. The non-Aaronic Levites were given a supporting role. What made Moses and Aaron think they were so special and that they could command authority over all the other family heads? After all, Moses and Aaron had not yet been able to lead the congregation into Canaan! This was no small uprising.
Though sedition and rebellion were involved, the protestors did have some good arguments. Many people were truly wondering who God’s favored leaders really were. It seemed like they were getting nowhere in the desert. It was time for somebody to do something about it, they felt. God was angered by this and made His holiness known by causing the ground to swallow up the rebels and their families! But this act of judgment unto death was not a sufficient sign or token of God’s favored leadership. We know this because immediately following the event God instructed Moses to take an almond rod for each of the heads of the father’s households and deposit them in the tent of meeting in the presence of God. God would affirm His choice of leadership not only by destroying rebels but even more so by causing a dead branch to spring forth with resurrection life! Hence we find that it is not judgment but divine life that is the unfailing proof of God’s leadership choices.
The rods represent positional authority. The men whose rods were placed in the tent were already recognized as having positions and titles of authority. But title was obviously not enough. Nothing less than miraculous sprouting of new life would be the unmistakable token of God’s favor! Whether you are modern or postmodern, traditional or emerging, you must learn this lesson!
Three ways the sprouting rod speaks
1. It speaks to the congregation. The proof of the divine flow in the life of God’s leader will silence the voice of complainers like nothing else. They may not like you but they must admit that God’s presence and favor is on your life and ministry. There is no substitute for the divine flow in your life. If you don’t have it, you don’t have the most necessary credential for leadership. Forget about titles. Go for life. This principle applies to every Christian who serves in some role of authority, whatever it may be: a parent, employer, deacon, home group leader, Sunday School teacher, Pastor, etc..
2. It speaks to Aaron. There are those times when as leaders we wonder if we have what it takes. We question our calling. We question our fitness to lead. The voices of our critics dominate our thoughts. The divine flow of Christ’s life in your life serves as a continual affirmation of God’s choice to use you! This witness of the Spirit keeps you going when times get tough. If you have it you can face doubts and fears. If you lose it, it is impossible to lead from the inside out. And that ‘s the only kind of leadership that can last for the long haul and continually bless those you lead.
3. It speaks to Moses. Many times as leaders we are responsible for setting apart or hiring other leaders. It’s often a tough call. Similarly, we are responsible for determining the leadership direction for organizations. Sometimes it is tough to make these decisions. The budding rod is the key! Go for life. Look for the rod that has life. Jesus said that He only did what He saw His Father doing. “For just as the Father gives men life, even so the Son also gives life…” (John 5:21 my paraphrase) We are not authorized to move beyond the realm of resurrection life! We are called to follow the flow of divine life. Look for the tokens of God’s life. Follow the budding rods! Bless what you see God blessing. You will not go wrong when you go for resurrection life!
Ultimately this principle is fullfilled in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. In raising up His Son, the Father was showing the world who it is that has authority to rule the world and to sit as Judge of every person. Those who refuse to acknowledge Jesus Christ’s authority will one day face the dire consequences of their rebellion. If Jesus Christ Himself does not rule without the witness of resurrection life, it is obvious that those of us who serve and represent Him even more greatly need the help of His supernatural supply.
For God’s favored leaders there can be no substitute for divine life. Period.