The Rod of a Leader
Rev. Lily Lim | On 02, Sep 2015
Numbers 17:1-11 – The LORD said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, and get from them rods, one for each fathers’ house, from all their leaders according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods. Write each man’s name upon his rod, and write Aaron’s name upon the rod for the head of each fathers’ house. Then you shall deposit them in the tent of meeting before the testimony, where I meet with you. And the rod of the man whom I choose shall sprout; thus I will make to cease from me the murmurings of the people of Israel, which they murmur against you. Moses spoke to the people of Israel, and all their leaders gave him rods, one for each leader, according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods; and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. And Moses deposited the rods before the LORD in the tent of the testimony. And on the morrow Moses went into the tent of the testimony; and behold, the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds, and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds. Then Moses brought all the rods from Israel; and they looked and each man took his rod. And the LORD said to Moses, “Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony, to be kept as a sign for the rebels, that you may make an end of their murmurings against me, lest they die.” Thus did Moses; as the LORD commanded him, so he did.
GOD’S DIRECTION FOR THE SELECTION OF LEADERS
God has always been concerned with the selection of leaders.
Numbers 17 presents the final vindication of the Lord’s confidence in His selection of Aaron as the leader of His choice.
Numbers 17 – the rod chapter, establishes several important principles concerning God’s ways and means for ministry,
God has established ministry to:
• Vindicate most forcibly the right to decide who should be the chosen leadership for His specific work.
• Stop all murmuring and questioning of those who would desire a leadership position not given them by God and silence murmuring against those who have the position.
• Establish the truth that TRUE MINISTRY IS A SUPERNATURAL ACHIEVEMENT IN ONE’S LIFE.
THE LEADER – THE ROD
All leaders seeking to be used by God in a significant fashion can be called a ROD.
All ministries will go through THE ROD TEST – the test of barrenness or fruitfulness.
What is a rod?
• It is a branch- so called from its stretching or extending itself.
• It was used for walking, shepherding, chastising and snake killing
• As a scepter of a king, it was EMBLEM OF POWER
• It was made of a very hard wood, sun baked, weather-beaten, desert wood such as acacia, often gnarled, knotted, twisted, rough and aged.
HISTORIC SIGNIFICANCE OF THE ROD
The historic significance of the rod can be seen both in Scripture and tradition.
The rod of the father was handed down from one generation to another.
The family would mark the rod with its own family symbols that would identify the family with the rod.
The rod came to represent a person’s social status, financial prosperity and authority.
When borne by the man who was entitled to carry it, the rod was to be respected, thus making the command of Jehovah to Moses of even greater significance: “And the Lord spoke to Moses saying (Numbers 17:1).”
These words indicate the DIVINE MIND FLOWING TO MOSES. This phrase, “And the Lord spoke to Moses saying” is used more than 150 times in Numbers. Jehovah has spoken. This is God’s wisdom. It is God’s principles stated, God’s way established. The rod test was a divine word of wisdom from Jehovah and was to be explicitly followed.
DIVINE ELECTION OF INDIVIDUALS
The rods were to be made very personal by the engraving of each man’s name upon the wood.
There would be no mistake, no error in discerning which barren rod belonged to which man.
The man was to be one with his rod.
Application: God calls and shapes each ministry INDIVIDUALLY, not collectively.
You are who you are by your OWN choices, character, disciplines, pursuits, passions and dreams.
Your family tree, your church, your college, your back ground does NOT determine your future.
IT IS YOU WHO DECIDES YOUR FUTURE.
God calls and equips leaders with special endowments but ultimately your destiny is the result of your response, preparation and yielding your rod to God.
The Lord calls you by name, a divine selection by God’s divine grace and wisdom; “O Lord, You have searched me and known me” (Psalms 139:1).
According to Genesis 12:2, we are NOT chosen based on our own merits or qualifications.
Ours is a calling of grace.
God promised Abraham, “I will bless you and make your name great.”
God’s elect are personally foreknown by Him.
God does not choose or predestine people as abstract entities but as real people with real weaknesses and real-life tragedies.
God chooses people INDIVIDUALLY.
John 15:16- You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you.
Knowing that God has selected us provided an unshakable basis for our call and salvation.
God’s call reaches out of eternity. His purpose and action stem from before the world began.
God chose and appointed us by name that we should “bear fruit”.
Barrenness is never God’s ultimate calling.
DIVINE APPOINTMENT BY DIVINE APPROVAL
Moses was commanded not only to put each person’s name on the rod but also to place the rods in the Tabernacle of Meeting before the Testimony.
Numbers 17:4-5 – Then you shall place them in the tabernacle of meeting before the Testimony, where I meet with you. And it shall be that the rod of the man whom I choose….”
Only one rod would receive from the presence of the Lord, the SUPERNATURAL LIFE resulting in SUPERNATURAL FRUITFULNESS – a sign of DIVINE APPROVAL.
Under the same condition, the other rods remained dead, barren places of wood.
The natural was not changed by the supernatural.
The rods were laid before God’s sovereignty.
The 12 rods were all equal when taken into the Tabernacle of Meeting – all barren, dead pieces of wood.
The rods were laid before the Ark of the Covenant, the place of God’s awesome presence.
Application: The life of the chosen leader is in the life of God’s presence. The rod, the leader, who will move from barrenness to fruitfulness, is HIDDEN WITHIN THE VEIL, MEETING GOD AFRESH, MEETING GOD THROUGH BROKENNESS, CONTRITENESS AND EMPTINESS.
This is the leader who comes with a sense of nothingness yet is filled and overshadowed by God’s overflowing presence.
FROM DEAD WOOD TO LIVING ROD
The absence of carnal ambition comes easily when we realize the message of the dead, barren rod.
There is nothing we can do to cause life to flow from the dead piece of wood.
It is all Him, all God, our source.
Our life is hidden in Him.
Application: We must nurture a holy ambition, a calling from God to use our gifts in accordance with what He has given us.
We ought not withdraw into passivity out of a false sense of humility.
Ambition can be a God-given quality that causes people to accomplish things greater than the status quo. Without this God-kind ambition, we will be less than the people God calls us to be.
The one rod received divine life, resulting in miraculous transformation.
Supernatural achievement is the origin of all true ministry.
The transformation from dead wood to living rod can only happen as the rod ENCOUNTERS THE LIVING PRESENCE of the one true and living God.
Transformation from natural to supernatural is the work of God and His divine power.
Every true ministry is a creation of God, a gift of God to His Church.
Numbers 17:8- Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds.
Sprouted. Buds. Blossoms. Ripe almonds
A sprout may come out of a living branch or trunk of tree but it is impossible for a wooden staff that is long dead to sprout again as though it were still part of a growing tree.
The sign is absolutely and finally convincing for the hand of God would be impossible for anyone to dispute.
Now, why of all nuts, God chose almonds nuts to sprout from the dead rod? Why not cashew nuts or pistachio nuts?
There are spiritual symbols to almond nuts.
First, let us look at the almond tree. Almond nuts come from almond tree and this tree symbolizes A WAKEFUL TREE. It has a connotation of ALERTNESS AND HASTE.
This almond tree among all other nut trees is in haste to blossom and bear fruit. It is NOT slow to bloom. It is one of the very first trees to tell us that springtime is near.
Application: When God chooses almond nut to blossom from the rod of the leader, He is assuring the leader who He chooses that He is wakeful concerning His Word to perform for the leader. God never forgets His promise to his chosen leader. And He is especially quick to fulfill His Word to his chosen leader, represented by the rod.
The ripe almond symbolizes GOODS OF CHARITY, GOODS OF LIFE. The rod that blossoms into ripe almonds shows that a chosen leader of God is always in a haste to blossom and to bear fruit and thus his interior life is filled with goods of charity (love) and life to share with many others around him. This leader is also in haste to announce to the world about the coming of our greatest SPRING DAY –Jesus Christ and His second coming.
As a leader, it is a privilege to have this promise from God that He is ever wakeful concerning His promises to perform. And as a leader, we have great stores of this fruitfulness of God within us, that we are able to share them abundantly with people around us.
The rod of Aaron blossoms into ripe almonds. So would our rod as the royal priesthood of Jesus blossom into fruitfulness for God and for others.
THE REALITY OF MINISTRY LIMITATIONS
As Moses returned from the Tabernacle with the rods in his hands to return them to the owners, it would have been an unusual event.
The rods that didn’t bud were brought forth and shown to all of Israel.
Every man had to embrace the choice of God. Not Moses’ choice, not man’s choice but God’s choice – God Himself had made the choice:
Numbers 17:9- Then Moses brought out all the rods from before the Lord to all the children of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod.
The barren rod was not a personal rejection of the man but a MINISTRY LIMITATION set by God’s grace. Mercy and wisdom.
When we push outside of our ministry calling, outside of our grace, we will experience barrenness.
Paul accepts his measure, his personal ministry limitation.
2 Corinthians 10:13- We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but within the limits of the sphere which God appointed us – a sphere which especially includes you.
“Measure” in Greek is metron = a graduated rod or rule for measuring, that which is measured, a determined extend, a portion measured off.
Application: The gift of grace is measured and given according to the will of God. WHATEVER THE ENDOWMENT, HIS IS THE BESTOWMENT AND ADJUSTMENT.
Burnout will also be a possibility when we drive ourselves beyond grace borders.
Burnout is an emotional disease of the overcommitted who refuse to come to terms with their ministry limitations.
EIGHT EVIDENCES OF A MINISTRY THAT IS ALIVE
1. A rod that releases supernatural activity (Exod 4:17;)
2. A rod that releases faith to break through impossible circumstances (Exod 14:14-16).
3. A rod that releases spiritual refreshing (Exod 17:5)
4. A rod that releases power to defeat the enemy (Exod 17:10-16)
5. A rod that releases spiritual nourishment (Mic 7:4).
6. A rod that releases spiritual adjustment (1 Cor 4:21)
7. A rod that releases spiritual authority (Rev 2:7).
8. A rod that releases spiritual vision (Rev 11:1-2)
THE DIVINE PRESERVATIVE OF YIELDED RODS; GOD’S GRACE
Aaron’s rod that budded was to be taken from Aaron and put into the Ark of the Covenant, which was placed in the Most Holy Place.
This is where His voice was heard as He spoke to the High Priest from the Mercy-seat.
The rod was to be placed in the Ark of the Covenant to PRESERVE THE FRUITFULNESS of the chosen rod.
The fruit was to remain FOREVER ripe and never fade.
The Ark preserved the rod in UNFADING BEAUTY.
Application: The power of abiding in Christ, abiding in His presence – that is principle of divine preservation.
This is the secret to a long life of fruitfulness: presenting ourselves constantly before His presence because in ourselves we are dry and barren.
Our reliance is upon God for our fruitfulness.
If we keep our ministries in the Ark of Christ’s presence, abiding daily in His presence, we will be refreshed with the revelation of God’s mind and purpose and endued with fresh anointing.
We will be able to refresh others wherever we go.
Man’s greatest loss in the Fall was God’s felt energizing presence. Divine intimacy produces divine awareness.
• God selects leaders.
• When we recognize that men are appointed by God, we should release our desires for leadership positions not given to us by Him and silence our murmuring against those who have the positions.
• True ministry is a supernatural achievement in one’s life.
• God calls and equips leaders with special endowments.
• Barren rods are result of pursuing outside of our ministry calling, out side of our grace boundaries.
• We are not chosen based on our own merits or qualification. Ours is a calling of grace.
• Our rods of ministry will blossom as we empty ourselves in His presence and allow Christ to pour His life through us.
PREACHED AT THE LEADERS’ RETREAT AT CAMP ALFREDO, GUIMARAS ON 31 AUG 2015