Numbers 13:23 Grapes and a Staff
Posted by adventbiblestudy on March 15, 2016
Numbers 13:23 Grapes and a Staff
Numbers 13:23 KJV And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs.
Few people consider this a prophecy about Jesus, but the key words, grapes and staff lead us straight to other, clearer prophecies and events in Jesus’ life. As with other prophecies about Jesus, this also teaches a number of simple study methods. The first is one from of an inductive method of study, looking for words which are the same, similar, or related. In this example we find two words related to grapes.
Isaiah 65:8 KJV Thus saith the LORD, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one saith, Destroy it not; for a blessing is in it: so will I do for my servants’ sakes, that I may not destroy them all.
New wine is a term to describe untainted grape juice. This is an important term to learn when studying other prophecies. Isaiah tells us a blessing is found in the new wine. When we look the New Testament, we find what pure wine represents. After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people–an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. (Luke 22:20 NLTse). To understand the blessing new wine in Isaiah 65 represents, we need to look at the introduction and summation of the chapter.
Isaiah 65:1-2 NLTse The LORD says, “I was ready to respond, but no one asked for help. I was ready to be found, but no one was looking for me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am!’ to a nation that did not call on my name. (2) All day long I opened my arms to a rebellious people. But they follow their own evil paths and their own crooked schemes.
Isaiah 65:23-25 NLTse They will not work in vain, and their children will not be doomed to misfortune. For they are people blessed by the LORD, and their children, too, will be blessed. (24) I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! (25) The wolf and the lamb will feed together. The lion will eat hay like a cow. But the snakes will eat dust. In those days no one will be hurt or destroyed on my holy mountain. I, the LORD, have spoken!”
New wine represents God’s blessings. His willingness to respond, be found as He waits with open arms. God is ready, willing and able to answer our prayers. Which prayers? What is God’s answer? “Look! I am creating new heavens and a new earth, and no one will even think about the old ones anymore. Be glad; rejoice forever in my creation! And look! I will create Jerusalem as a place of happiness. Her people will be a source of joy.” (Isaiah 65:17-18 NLTse). God intends to deliver the promised land He has prepared for His people.
What attitude did the spies have before they went into the promised land? They were given a great deal if responsibility. They were chosen as the first to enter the promised land and bring back an accurate report. Did they ? There were two reports. One verbal, the other spiritual.
As we look back in scripture we see how God revealed Himself to Israel. All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the LORD had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the ram’s horn grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God thundered his reply. (Exodus 19:18-19 NLTse). The spies saw God’s glory and power. They saw His miracles in Egypt. They saw Him part the Red Sea and destroy Egypt’s army. There should have been no doubt, God the Creator of all Heaven and earth freed them from slavery. What was their reaction to God showing His power? And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” (Exodus 20:19 NLTse). Instead of trusting God, they feared Him. Did they have the carry the same fear and mistrust into the promised land? But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!” (Numbers 13:31-33 NLTse).
Did they think God was helpless against the giants they saw? Were they answering the proverbial question, can God create a rock so huge He cannot lift it? Where was their faith? Where was the faith of the people listening to them? They missed the blessing supported by the staff.
Staff is another word which takes us to a story about Jesus’ ministry. Jesus commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: (Mark 6:8 KJV). What did the staff represent in this text? When we look back at previous texts in Mark’s Gospel, we find Jesus teaching His disciples how to understand all parables. One of the lessons they had to learn was how to pay attention to Jesus, what He was teaching, and rely on the Holy Spirit. When the disciples were sent out to minister to others, they had nothing to rely on expect the staff, a reminder of what Jesus taught them. With no money or food, no place to love, they had to rely totally in the Spirit to provide for all their needs. During their journey they relied on people touched by God’s Spirit to provide their needs. In most cases they could hardly provide for day to day needs of their family. Families had to extent their trust beyond what they were able to see they could endure. This taught the disciples lessons they would need once Jesus ascended to Heaven. The staff reminded them of the trust they learned from minute to minute, day to day.
We find another text explaining what a staff represents which is a much clearer prophecy about Jesus.
Zechariah 11:7-16 MKJV And I fed the flock of slaughter, even the poor of the flock. And I took two staffs for myself; the one I called Kindness, and the other I called Union. And I fed the flock. (8) I also cut off three shepherds in one month; and my soul was impatient with them, and their soul also despised me. (9) And I said, I will not feed you; that which dies, let it die; and that which is to be cut off, let it be cut off. And those left, let them eat, each woman her neighbor’s flesh. (10) And I took my staff Kindness, and broke it apart, to break My covenant which I had made with all the peoples. (11) And it was broken in that day; and so the poor of the flock who were watching Me knew that it was the Word of Jehovah. (12) And I said to them, If it is good, give My price; and if not, let it go. So they weighed My price thirty pieces of silver. (13) And Jehovah said to me, Throw it to the potter, the magnificent price at which I was valued by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of Jehovah. (14) Then I broke My other staff Union apart, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. (15) And Jehovah said to me, Take to yourself yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. (16) For lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land who will not care for those going to ruin, nor will he seek the young, nor will heal that which is broken, nor will he feed that which stands. But he shall eat the flesh of the fat and tear off their hoofs.
Between the two staffs we see a simple, unmistakable prophecy about Jesus, the price paid to betray Him, and how it was used to buy Potters field. “They took the thirty pieces of silver– the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel, and purchased the potter’s field, as the LORD directed.” (Matthew 27:9-10 NLTse).
Jesus was betrayed in the same way the blessing between the two men on the staff was betrayed. God showed Israel a blessing. He showed them how He was going to fulfill His promise, and they turned it down. This is exactly what happened to Jesus. God showed the world exactly how He is going to fulfill His promise of taking all of us into the promised land. Instead of accepting Jesus, one of His disciples betrayed Him. The priests, Pharisees, and all religious leaders rejected Jesus the same way ten spies reject the promised land.
As with all the prophecies about Jesus, this one shows us how to use associated words to locate texts that will explain the spiritual meaning as well as locate texts explaining how the prophecy was fulfilled. We did not have to use any other source beyond the Bible. This shows how the Bible with the Spirit is able to explain prophecy in much greater detail than we are able to imagine. Many more details are contained within the Bible than in anyone’s imagination or any other source. This shows us exactly where to place our trust so we are able to accept God’s promises and know He is able to accomplish everything in His own way, time and in His own way. “I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:27 NLTse).