Life-Study of Hebrewsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to the matter of the budding rod (Heb. 9:4; Num. 17:1-10). Not many Christians have realized the full significance of the budding rod. Many simply regard the record of the budding rod as an interesting Bible story of a piece of dried wood that budded, blossomed, and yielded fruit overnight. But this incident is not a small point in the divine revelation.
Many Christians pay attention to the tabernacle. We have seen that with the tabernacle there are the altar and the laver in the outer court; the showbread table, the lampstand, and the incense altar in the Holy Place; and the ark of testimony in the Holy of Holies. The ark of testimony, the unique unit in the Holy of Holies, signifies Christ as the unique testimony of God. The contents of the ark comprise three items: the hidden manna, the budding rod, and the tables of the law. In the three previous messages, we have covered the first item, the hidden manna. Many Christians can understand something of the manna, for they know that it is a heavenly food signifying Christ as the bread of life. It is difficult, however, to understand the significance of the budding rod.
The children of Israel had many experiences in the wilderness, and the Lord commanded them to place in His presence symbols of three of the experiences through which they passed. These symbols were the tables of testimony, the manna, and the budding rod. After the Israelites had received the law at Mount Sinai, the Lord told them to put the two tables of the law into the ark (Exo. 34:1, 29; 25:21; 40:20). An omer full of manna was put in a pot and laid up before the Lord to be kept (Exo. 16:32-34). In the wilderness, the children of Israel also passed through some experiences of rebellion. Numbers 16 is an account of the most serious rebellion. Out of that rebellion came the budding rod, which was put before the testimony, which was in the ark, as a sign (Num. 17:10-11). By this we see that each of these items came out of the experiences of the Israelites. They were not teachings, but the issue, the outcome, of their experiences. Thus, if we try to understand these three items by our mentality and for the purpose of acquiring knowledge, we shall not succeed. We can only understand them in, with, and for our experiences.
If we would understand the budding rod, we must have a little background. God’s purpose is to gain a collective people to be His corporate expression to express and represent Him that He might have a dominion, a kingdom, in which to carry out His eternal economy. Many people think that God had a partial love for the Jews, working for them and doing things for them, and that He did not care for the Gentiles. This is a religious concept; it is not the focus of the divine revelation. The focus of the divine revelation is that the eternal God has a purpose. This purpose is to gain a people as a corporate unit to contain Him, to be one with Him, and to let Him be one with them that they might be the living expression of the invisible God, and that God might have a kingdom on earth to carry out His economy for His glory and to deal with His enemy. This was God’s purpose when He called the children of Israel out of Egypt, making them a chosen and a called people.
As such a people outside of Egypt, the Israelites were walking in the wilderness toward God’s goal. The children of Israel were at least a few million in number, for the male warriors alone numbered more than six hundred thousand (Num. 1:45-46). Since the number of the Israelites was so great, there was certainly the need, as there is today, for the building up of God’s people. For the building up of the people of God, there was, in turn, the need for some authority. Using today’s term, there was the need of leadership. As we shall see, God did not only raise up this leadership— He built it up. The leadership among the children of Israel was a corporate leadership comprising at least two men: Moses, representing the aspect of dominion and kingship, and Aaron, representing the aspect of image and priesthood.
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