James Nisbet Commentary - Hebrews 9:4 - 9:4

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James Nisbet Commentary - Hebrews 9:4 - 9:4

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:


‘Aaron’s rod that budded.’


We can be at no loss to learn the lesson which the budding of Aaron’s rod is intended to convey to us as Christians. It is that of the supernatural fruitfulness of all God’s ordinances and means of grace. Viewed in themselves they seem mere dead wood, like the rod of Aaron, which was just like those of the rest of the people—mere dead wood without life or sap.

I. The Priesthood of the Church.—Viewed in themselves, Christ’s priests are merely men, as Aaron was. But by God’s appointment they are channels of grace from Christ the Head, and through them He produces fruit for His people which must clearly come from Him, so quickly is it produced. Not even a living tree could have produced blossoms and fruit in a single night, as Aaron’s rod did.

II. The Ministrations of God’s priests.—Received in faith, as God’s ordinances, these ministrations bear fruit with a speed which is clearly God’s doing and not man’s; and the type of Aaron’s rod is fulfilled every day in the history of our churches and our parishes.

III. Our Sacraments.—Viewed in themselves, what is less than the sacramental elements of bread and wine?

(a) What is less than the water of baptism? Yet God has chosen them to be His instruments of grace. Even as He chose Aaron to be His priest, and the Passover to be the seal and sign of His salvation from the Destroying Angel in Egypt.

(b) It is curious to notice, too, horn in the case of the Holy Communion God chose again to carry out the same rule we have observed above, and to take care that the first time it was treated as common bread and common wine the same visible punishment should follow as when His apostles were treated as if they bore no spiritual character. In 1Co_11:29-30, when St. Paul has to rebuke the Corinthians for profaning the Sacrament, as if it were a mere human institution, he tells them that ‘for this cause many are weak and sickly among you and many sleep’—clearly pointing to some judgment by which God was punishing those who were guilty of this sin, that they might see His displeasure and amend their ways, and having once shown His displeasure, if after that men will not amend He leaves them to bear the consequences. He does not interfere again.