Five Lessons from Moses and the Staff

Domenico Fetti 1614 via

“What is that in your hand?”
“A staff.”
“Throw it on the ground.”

So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it.

Moses knew snakes. He spent his first 40 years in the land of Egypt, where there are about thirty six species of snakes. Seven of those species are venomous! He spent the next 40 years as a shepherd in the desert. Moses knew snake lore. Enough to know that you don’t pick up a snake by its tail since it can turn on itself and bite your hand.

Guess what God tells Moses to do next? That’s right. “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail.” Why? “…that they (the Israelites) may believe that the LORD…has appeared to you.” Exodus 4:1-5

1) God wants us to use the things He has provided to us for His purposes.

In this case, the staff of Moses identified him as a shepherd. The staff was his primary tool for making a living. The staff represented his “circle of influence” which extended to the size of his flock and not much further. The staff was his support and a sign of who and what Moses had become after his disgrace in Egypt.

God was about to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. “Throw it on the ground.”

2) We should expect the unexpected. And, it might be frightening.

Many people think that the snake God created from the staff wasn’t just an ordinary snake. The serpent was frightening enough to make a veteran of the land move as fast as he could to get away, not at all the proper reaction in an encounter with a snake.

Out first reaction to God’s prompting may be the same; we want to run in the other direction. Due to fear. God helps us overcome fear.

“Put out your hand and catch it by the tail.”

3) God redefines us and extends our influence through His gifts.

When Moses picked the snake up by the tail, he was showing extraordinary faith. He was terrified by the snake. But, he trusted God. I know. I know. Moses then proceeded to object to God’s every suggestion for the duration of their conversation, but in the end, he obeyed God.

God used the staff to redefine Moses. He gained a new identity as leader and prophet for the children of Abraham. The staff came to symbolize God’s care for Moses, and because of God’s mighty works, the staff became a symbol of authority. Through the staff, God extended Moses’s “circle of influence” to include all of us from then until this day.

4) Warning: Use as directed!

Moses paid dearly for the one time he misused the staff. What’s sadder than looking into the Promised Land but being unable to enter it? Take this lesson to heart; use what God puts into your hands according to His will or your life will not go in the intended direction.

5) God’s purposes are larger than we can imagine.

“Put out your hand and catch it by the tail.” Moses could not imagine that he would use the staff to turn the water into blood, or bring plagues of frogs, lice, storms, locusts, part the Red Sea, bring water from the rock, or win a battle.

So, take what God has placed in your hands. Throw it out there. Take it by the tail and see what God will do with you. How will God redefine your identity? How will He extend your circle of influence? How many others will your life affect with God’s help?

How has God used what He placed in your hand? How has that affected your life and the lives of others?


3 thoughts on “Five Lessons from Moses and the Staff

  1. I was so upset, about four years ago, when Dr. said I must carry a four prong walking cane with me at all times. this was tough because I thought when I gave up the walker and cane, when I broke my leg in 1995, I was finished with their use. I had fallen numerous times, andf Dr. thought this would prevent the falls, he was wrong, many maore falls have happened without and broke bones, so far. I sadly asked my eight year old great neice, who was very creative, what I could do to that ugly cane, it was Christmas time, and she said make it into “CANDY CANE”. I try to make it advertise my love for God. Many people look at that “walking can”. with lots of comments.
    Pray that I can continue to give God all the GLORY and attention due him, as I show others my utter dependance on his care, and give up my pride in walkng by myself. I only can walk with God’s help, I can do nothing on my own.
    Audry Hunter

    • Dear Audry,

      Out of the mouth of babes! What a tremendous idea to turn an “ugly cane” into a “candy cane.” Your story reminds me of Paul’s. And, God’s response to his request for healing: “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

      Your cane, like Moses’s staff, is your outward sign to the world need God’s support. That you lean on Him. He is your strength. You might also appreciate the story of the candy cane. Thanks for reading this post and taking the time to leave your comments. I hope you return here often.

  2. Pingback: When You’re In A Drought or Dry Season « L.E.G.A.C.Y.

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