The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel, and get from them staffs, one for each fathers’ house, from all their chiefs according to their fathers’ houses, twelve staffs. Write each man’s name on his staff, and write Aaron’s name on the staff of Levi. For there shall be one staff 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 staff of the man whom I choose shall sprout. Thus I will make to cease from me the grumblings of the people of Israel, which they grumble against you.” Moses spoke to the people of Israel. And all their chiefs gave him staffs, one for each chief, according to their fathers’ houses, twelve staffs. And the staff of Aaron was among their staffs. And Moses deposited the staffs before the LORD in the tent of the testimony.
On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony, and behold, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds. Then Moses brought out all the staffs from before the LORD to all the people of Israel. And they looked, and each man took his staff. And the LORD said to Moses, “Put back the staff of Aaron before the testimony, to be kept as a sign for the rebels, that you may make an end of their grumblings against me, lest they die.” Thus did Moses; as the LORD commanded him, so he did.
And the people of Israel said to Moses, “Behold, we perish, we are undone, we are all undone. Everyone who comes near, who comes near to the tabernacle of the LORD, shall die. Are we all to perish?” (Numbers 17:1-13 ESV)
Yahweh gives further proof that only Aaron and his family are chosen for ministering as priests in the tabernacle. Though someone would possibly argue that a rod was already in the tabernacle belonging to Aaron with buds on it, it is impossible for a dead piece of wood, no matter if it is already in the tabernacle or not, to bear fruit. Plus they all saw each man write his name on the rods placed before the ark of the covenant in the most Holy Place.
When it is evident that only Aaron’s rod buds the people get fearful because they have registered rebellion against God’s choice. They fear He will break out against them again when they come near the tabernacle. But the fact that God produced this test is evidence that He wants them to be reminded and to repent of their rebellion.
God always gives us an opportunity to repent. Your own conscience may keep you from repenting, but God is offering it nonetheless. Receive His rebuke and recognize your opportunity for repentance.
Conscience is a three-pointed thing in my heart that turns around when I do something wrong, and the points hurt a lot. But if I keep doing bad, the points eventually wear off, and then it doesn’t hurt any more.