Numbers 16:41-18:7; Mark 15:33-47; Psalms 55:12-23; Proverbs 15:27-28
OT: “The Lord instructed Moses, “Speak to the Israelites and take one staff from them for each ancestral tribe, twelve staffs from all the leaders of their tribes. Write each man’s name on his staff. Write Aaron’s name on Levi’s staff, because there is to be one staff for the head of each tribe. Then place them in the tent of meeting in front of the testimony where I meet with you. 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.” …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!” (Numbers 17:1-5, 8 CSB)
In order to put a final end to the rebellions against Aaron’s priesthood (and Moses’ position of authority), God had the leader of each tribe bring his staff to the tabernacle and present it to the Lord. Staffs were not freshly cut branches. They were old and hardened wood. A man would have a staff for decades, and would mark the staff when significant things happened in his life. A man’s staff was a symbol of his life – each staff was unique and closely associated with the man who held it. The next morning, Aaron’s decades-old staff had not only sprouted. It had actually produced fruit! If God can cause an old dead staff to produce fruit, the surely He can produce good things out of a life submitted to Him.
NT: “When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lemá sabachtháni?” which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “See, he’s calling for Elijah.” Someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, fixed it on a stick, offered him a drink, and said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to take him down.” Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed his last. Then the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing opposite him, saw the way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”” (Mark 15:33-39 CSB)
We know from the other gospel accounts, that the loud cry that He made as He breathed His last was, “It is finished!” As He gave up His spirit and died, the debt of all mankind was paid. Those enslaved to sin were redeemed by every last drop of His blood. The wall of iniquity between sinful mankind and the Holy God was knocked down, and the veil the prevented people from enjoying the presence of God was ripped from top to bottom. A new and living way to God was was opened to us through Christ. It was (and is) finished!
Psalms: “Now it is not an enemy who insults me — otherwise I could bear it; it is not a foe who rises up against me — otherwise I could hide from him. But it is you, a man who is my peer, my companion and good friend! We used to have close fellowship; we walked with the crowd into the house of God. Let death take them by surprise; let them go down to Sheol alive, because evil is in their homes and within them. But I call to God, and the Lord will save me. I complain and groan morning, noon, and night, and he hears my voice. Though many are against me, he will redeem me from my battle unharmed. God, the one enthroned from long ago, will hear and will humiliate them Selah because they do not change and do not fear God… Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” (Psalms 55:12-19, 22 CSB)
David was betrayed, not by an enemy, nor an impersonal acquaintance, but by a close, trusted, and dear friend. You can see in his writing the pain he was in. Understandably, he was hurt and angry. In that moment, there was no mercy or grace in his heart. He wanted justice. Though David (especially as king) had every right to avenge himself and “finish the job,” he cast His heavy burden on the Lord and trusted Him to do what was needed. If we trust God and allow Him to finish things in His way, He is also able to finish the refining work that He is doing in us.