All human leaders are inevitably imperfect, including Christians who are doing their best to follow the Lord. Their endeavors in ministry don’t always go as well as they hope. Even Charles Spurgeon, known as the Prince of Preachers, felt the sting of depression in ministry: “The strong are not always vigorous, the wise not always ready, the brave not always courageous, and the joyful not always happy.”
Scripture never portrays people as perfect, and Aaron’s flaws have been visible since he was introduced in the biblical narrative in the book of Exodus. But God showed him much grace and used him mightily to lead Israel alongside his brother Moses. In today’s reading, God took the initiative to affirm the leadership of Moses and Aaron, but especially Aaron, one more time: “I will rid myself of this constant grumbling against you by the Israelites” (v. 5). God vindicated Moses and Aaron as a warning to anyone who continued to harbor rebellious thoughts.
The means of doing so was once again a public test. Twelve wooden staffs were carefully labeled and put before the Ark, in God’s presence. God’s choice would be indicated by which one sprouted. The answer, which came one day later, was extravagant. Aaron’s rod not only budded but also blossomed and produced almonds! God left no room to misinterpret His choice and the meaning of this sign. The rod was then placed by the Ark, along with the tablets of the Law and the jar of manna, as an enduring symbol and reminder (v. 10).
God accomplished His objective: we read no more about attempted coups. Although it’s unclear whether the people’s response indicated repentance or only fear (vv. 12–13), they did not again try to overthrow God’s appointed leaders.