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The Reformation Herald Online Edition

Christ in His Sanctuary

Aaron’s Rod: Organized for Restoration
Abridged and adapted from the book People of the Ark by P. Lausevic
Aaron’s Rod: Organized for Restoration

The book of Hebrews was the apostle Paul’s utmost attempt to explain to the Jewish people why Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, and why they urgently needed to accept His ministration in their behalf. The best way to do so was by comparing their unique services in the sanctuary—which they revered and held to such high esteem and worshipped ignorantly—with the ministry of Jesus in the heavenly sanctuary. Christ made the best attempt possible, combining human thought with Divine inspiration to convey this idea to all who would be impressed by the Holy Spirit.

In order to explain the heavenly, Jesus needed to describe the earthly. As we read in the previous article, within the second veil of the tabernacle was “the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant” (Hebrews 9:4, emphasis added).

Because we are living in the great antitypical Day of Atonement which is signified by the ministration of the high priest in the most holy place of the sanctuary, we need to study its significance relevant to our time. It is named as such because the visible presence of God was manifested in that part of the sanctuary together with the most important piece of furniture in the entire sanctuary service—the ark of the covenant. The presence of this ark with the people of God meant that God was in reality in their midst, while its absence meant that God was displeased with His people and no longer working with them.

Bearing the ark

When the nation of Israel was walking in the will of Jehovah, the spiritual leaders were bearing the ark of a holy God. When they turned away from Him, they were not permitted to touch that sacred chest upon penalty of death. This term is not merely used in Old Testament times but also in the last days of this earth’s history, as we are ministering on earth in conjunction with Christ’s ministry in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary.

Hence the prophet describes the condition of the church on earth in these terms:

“Many of our people are lukewarm. They occupy the position of Meroz, neither for nor against, neither cold nor hot. They hear the words of Christ, but do them not. If they remain in this state, He will reject them with abhorrence. Many of those who have had great light, great opportunities, and every spiritual advantage praise Christ and the world with the same breath. They bow themselves before God and mammon. They make merry with the children of the world, and yet claim to be blessed with the children of God. They wish to have Christ as their Saviour, but will not bear the cross and wear His yoke. . . .

“Who knows but that the preachers who are faithful, firm, and true may be the last who shall offer the gospel of peace to our unthankful churches?. . .

“When God shall work His strange work on the earth, when holy hands bear the ark no longer, woe will be upon the people.”1

If the people who have had such great light in the past do not continue in that light, they will no longer be the ones bearing the sacred ark representing the presence of God in this earth. This may seem alarming if we truly understand its significance. What if we really want to serve a holy God when the leaders refuse to walk in His presence and be the ones to bear that ark? Does that mean that no one will be representing the work of God in this earth? Does it mean that we will be left without direction or a method of communicating with heaven?

“Satan has laid every measure possible that nothing shall come among us as a people to reprove and rebuke us, and exhort us to put away our errors. But there is a people who will bear the ark of God. . . . They will show the people their transgressions, and the house of Jacob their sins.”2

The ark of the covenant

According to the writer of the book of Hebrews, the original ark contained “the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant.” However, as the nation of Israel rejected the true meaning of each of these symbols, one by one they were removed from the ark, as they ultimately had no real meaning. By the time the Temple was dedicated in the time of Solomon, some items were missing from the ark. The inspired writer astonishingly declares: “There was nothing in the ark save the two tables which Moses put therein at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of Egypt” (2 Chronicles 5:10). Only the tables of the covenant remained, while the other two items were gone.

As the people continued their state of apostasy and rebellion, what ultimately happened to the ark itself together with the ten commandments remaining inside? “Because of Israel’s transgression of the commandments of God and their wicked acts, God suffered them to go into captivity, to humble and punish them. Before the temple was destroyed, God made known to a few of His faithful servants the fate of the temple, which was the pride of Israel, and which they regarded with idolatry, while they were sinning against God. He also revealed to them the captivity of Israel. These righteous men, just before the destruction of the temple, removed the sacred ark containing the tables of stone, and with mourning and sadness secreted it in a cave where it was to be hidden from the people of Israel because of their sins, and was to be no more restored to them. That sacred ark is yet hidden. It has never been disturbed since it was secreted.”3

Restoration

Since God’s church in the last days has an important responsibility of effectively sharing the truth to the entire world, what needs to be restored to give them that same sense of the presence of God? The servant of the Lord describes a vision given to her:

“In the holiest I saw an ark; on the top and sides of it was purest gold. . . . In the ark was the golden pot of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of stone which folded together like a book. Jesus opened them, and I saw the ten commandments written on them with the finger of God.”4

In modern Adventism we have often spoken about the ark—but we must include all of its contents: The tables of stone, the pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod.

The rod that budded

The history of Aaron’s rod is found in the book of Numbers, chapters 16 and 17. Inspiration is speaking about leadership—specifically that it was God who had appointed Moses and Aaron to this important post of duty. This was not the result of some kind of personal career ambition on the part of Moses the meek—quite the contrary.

In sharp contrast Moses’ cousin, Korah, was a very ambitious individual who determined to seize control of the leadership of Israel. His attitude was directly contrary to the fundamental principle of Christianity that teaches that there is satisfaction in service to others. This rebellion of Korah was not a mere popular commotion or sudden impulse of a crowd gone wild but, rather, “a deep-laid conspiracy was formed, the result of a determined purpose to overthrow the authority of the leaders appointed by God Himself.”5

“Jealousy had given rise to envy, and envy to rebellion. [Korah and his companions in the conspiracy] had discussed the question of the right of Moses to so great authority and honor, until they had come to regard him as occupying a very enviable position, which any of them could fill as well as he. And they deceived themselves and one another into thinking that Moses and Aaron had themselves assumed the positions they held. The discontented ones said that these leaders had exalted themselves above the congregation of the Lord, in taking upon them the priesthood and government, but their house was not entitled to distinction above others in Israel; they were no more holy than the people, and it should be enough for them to be on a level with their brethren, who were equally favored with God’s special presence and protection.”6

This is the same way that Lucifer had mysteriously become Satan in the courts of heaven. Because this principle originated with Satan, when a person submits to that kind of reasoning, he or she actually becomes possessed with the same destructive element that changed the brightest of the heavenly angels into a despot and a demon. It is for this reason that “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” (1 Samuel 15:23). “Those who set themselves against the government of God have entered into an alliance with the arch-apostate.”7

When God appoints a leader, is it possible to fashion a way to insult Him in a greater way than by rejecting such a leader? “It is hardly possible for men to offer greater insult to God than to despise and reject the instrumentalities He would use for their salvation. The Israelites had not only done this but had purposed to put both Moses and Aaron to death.”8 This is why genuine rebelling is simply a person who surrenders his or her mind to the control of Satan—a witch. Once this genuine rebellion takes hold of a person, is there a way to remedy that? Speaking of the angels that associated with Lucifer in his rebellion in heaven, we are told that “they had learned the lesson of genuine rebellion against the unchangeable law of God, and this is incurable.”9 For this reason they had to be expelled from the courts of heaven.

Those who led the rebellion were actually among those who had gone up with Moses into the mount and beheld the divine glory at the giving of the tables of stone. Their high privilege made their sin all the greater.

In this whole process Moses had not been an overbearing ruler; he was a patient leader—the meekest man in all the earth. The base accusation that he was assuming too much authority was totally unfounded, because he was a man that was closely connected to God and his only desire was to spend eternity with his Saviour (Hebrews 11:24–27).

The core of rebellion

Why is it that such a rebellious attitude went like wildfire throughout the camp of the Hebrew people? The seeming problem was that Moses “had reproved the people as sinners, when they felt that they were a holy people, and that the Lord was among them.”10

“Korah had cherished his envy and rebellion until he was self-deceived, and he really thought that the congregation were a very righteous people and that Moses was a tyrannical ruler, continually dwelling upon the necessity of the congregation’s being holy, when there was no need of it, for they were holy.

“These rebellious ones had flattered the people in general to believe that they were right and that all their troubles arose from Moses, their ruler, who was continually reminding them of their sins. The people thought that if Korah could lead them and encourage them by dwelling upon their righteous acts instead of reminding them of their failures, they would have a very peaceful, prosperous journey, and he would without doubt lead them, not back and forward in the wilderness, but into the Promised Land. They said that it was Moses who had told them that they could not go into the land, and that the Lord had not thus said.”11

Because there seemed to be such great success among the people and large numbers began to support Korah, this had a serious negative effect on him. He actually believed that he was now in the right.

A new order

As a result of the seeming triumph of Korah in successfully mobilizing the congregation through the effective use of flattery, what did the people expect? They “had fondly cherished the hope that a new order of things was about to be established, in which praise would be substituted for reproof, and ease for anxiety and conflict.”12

In the history of this experience as recorded in Testimonies, vol. 3, pp. 345, 346, we learn that the rebellious, discordant elements were eventually “the larger part of the congregation of Israel”—they actually were the majority! Although Moses and his associates were now the minority, they were the people of God because they still held onto the ark of God and His personal presence, which the ark symbolized.

The miracle of Aaron’s rod

In reading the entire history we learn that there was a test made between the followers of Korah in contrast to the men of God’s appointment. The dry, dead stick used by Aaron as a rod miraculously budded and bore fruit—symbolic of God’s endorsement and blessing upon the ministry of Moses and Aaron. As a continual reminder of rightful leadership that is prepared to tell the people their true condition, this miraculous rod was placed inside the ark of the covenant, next to the ten commandments.

In the life of Moses we can see that genuine humility is not one that glosses over wrongs but, rather, is prepared to defend the character of our God at any time—not merely by mild measures alone, but even by the stern virtues that are combined with the mild nature of a forgiving person.

Lessons for our time

Today is no different than the experience of those people who left Egypt and spent 40 years wandering in the desert on their way to the Promised Land. “Some who occupy the position of watchmen to warn the people of danger have given up their watch and recline at ease. They are unfaithful sentinels. . . . They apprehend no special danger; they see no cause to raise an alarm. To them everything seems to be going well, and they see no necessity of raising the faithful, trumpet notes of warning which they hear borne by the plain testimonies, to show the people their transgressions and the house of Israel their sins. These reproofs and warnings disturb the quiet of these sleepy, ease-loving sentinels, and they are not pleased. They say in heart, if not in words: ‘This is all uncalled for. It is too severe, too harsh. These men are unnecessarily disturbed and excited, and seem unwilling to give us any rest or quietude. “Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them” (Numbers 16:3). They are not willing that we should have any comfort, peace, or happiness. It is active labor, toil, and unceasing vigilance alone which will satisfy these unreasonable, hard-to-be-suited watchmen. Why don’t they prophesy smooth things, and cry: Peace, peace? Then everything would move on smoothly.’ ”13

The Hebrew people wanted the presence of God combined with a freedom to sin. This is why they complained of being deprived of their liberty and independence when the reality was that they “were not willing to submit to the directions and restrictions of the Lord. They were restless under restraint and unwilling to receive reproof. This was the secret of their murmuring against Moses. Had they been left free to do as they pleased, there would have been fewer complaints against their leader. All through the history of the church God’s servants have had the same spirit to meet.”14

“Like Korah and his companions, many, even of the professed followers of Christ, are thinking, planning, and working so eagerly for self-exaltation that in order to gain the sympathy and support of the people they are ready to pervert the truth, falsifying and misrepresenting the Lord’s servants, and even charging them with the base and selfish motives that inspire their own hearts. . . .

“Every advance made by those whom God has called to lead in His work has excited suspicion; every act has been misrepresented by the jealous and faultfinding. Thus it was in the time of Luther, of the Wesleys and other reformers. Thus it is today.”15

In the history of Korah, the rebels eventually blasphemed God. In later history, when Israel demanded a king (1 Samuel 8:4–9), the Lord gave them their desire (Hosea 13:11), although by this act they rejected His authority and became just like the other nations. As a result, the rod of Aaron was removed from the ark, and they were eventually left with a mere hollow reminder of their association with the God of heaven.

Restoration of Aaron’s rod principles

How can we determine if we are following the principles of Korah or those of Aaron’s rod? “If you seek to turn aside the counsel of God to suit yourselves, if you lessen the confidence of God’s people in the testimonies He has sent them, you are rebelling against God as certainly as were Korah, Dathan, and Abiram.”16 God has given us the same messages of reproof in the testimonies from the modern-day prophet. If we reject them merely as advice and suggestions, we are preparing ourselves to receive any modern-day Korah, in person or organization, that may arise.

In order for this last-day church to have a true experience, they must have the same concern for the well-being of each individual member, as Moses had for the people he was leading in his time. “On the church in its organized capacity [Christ] places a responsibility for the individual members. Toward those who fall into sin, the church has a duty, to warn, to instruct, and if possible to restore. ‘Reprove, rebuke, exhort,’ the Lord says, ‘with all long-suffering and doctrine’ (2 Timothy 4:2). Deal faithfully with wrongdoing. Warn every soul that is in danger. Leave none to deceive themselves. Call sin by its right name. Declare what God has said in regard to lying, Sabbathbreaking, stealing, idolatry, and every other evil. ‘They which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God’ (Galatians 5:21). If they persist in sin, the judgment you have declared from God’s word is pronounced upon them in heaven. In choosing to sin, they disown Christ; the church must show that she does not sanction their deeds, or she herself dishonors her Lord. She must say about sin what God says about it. She must deal with it as God directs, and her action is ratified in heaven. He who despises the authority of the church despises the authority of Christ Himself.”17

If we fail in this respect, we are acting the part of Korah, not Moses’ part. We are called to be reformers just like John the Baptist. He has a message plain and pointed, rebuking sin rather than whitewashing it. To give such a message, our love for Christ must swallow up love for self. We must be “willing to be emptied of self.”18

To reject the ministry of Moses—the ministry of high standards and loving reproof in order to uplift those standards—indulging instead in the spirit of self-sufficiency in whatever way it may be found, is to reject Aaron’s rod. Let us ever remember that God will indeed have a people to bear His ark—a complete ark, with all the items found in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary. Let us determine to be among that people!

[For a more detailed evaluation of this subject you can obtain the book of notes entitled “People of the Ark” by the same author.]

References
1 Testimonies, vol. 5, pp. 76, 77. [Emphasis supplied.]
2 Testimonies to Ministers, p. 411. [Emphasis supplied.]
3 The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 414. [Emphasis supplied.]
4 Early Writings, p. 32.
5 Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 395.
6 Ibid., p.397.
7 Ibid., p.635.
8 Ibid., p.402.
9 The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1, p. 21.
10 Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 397.
11 Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 349.
12 Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 401.
13 Testimonies, vol. 2, p. 440.
14 Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 404.
15 Ibid.
16 Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 66.
17 The Desire of Ages, pp. 805, 806. [Emphasis supplied.]
18 Testimonies, vol. 8, p. 334.