That Stick You Are Leaning on is a Snake - 1/24/18

by Rick Campanelli

Exodus 4, the Lord tells Moses that he is to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, where they've lived for 400 years. Moses explains to the Lord that there's a minor problem with this plan - the Israelites will not believe that Moses was really talking to God, never mind follow Moses in rebellion against the most powerful king in their world, Pharaoh.

“But behold," says Moses, "they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’”

The Bible report continues:

"The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.”

 Note that Moses doesn't say "a stick." It's a staff – something you lean on and rely on for support and to control your unruly flock.

“Throw it on the ground,” the Lord says.

It is as if the Lord is telling Moses, "As it is, that staff isn't going to do you much good."

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

And the Lord does not make it any easier:

"But the LORD said to Moses, “Put out your hand and catch it by the tail.”

Now I am no snake handler, but I'm thinking that the worst advice someone could give you about handling snakes is to tell you to pick it up by its tail, which would seem to (a) just draw the snake's attention to the fact that you are there and (b) put the snake in the best possible position to bite you. So, assuming the Lord wasn't interested in just having some fun with Moses, why would the Lord tell Moses to pick up this huge snake -- by its tail?

I think the Lord is teaching Moses something here, and to Moses credit, he exercises faith enough to learn it.

"—So he put out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand…"

I think God is telling Moses, and us, that He is more powerful than we could ever dream, and more powerful than whatever else we are leaning on for support or to control what's ahead of us. The Lord also is showing Moses, and us, I think, that the very thing we are leaning on could actually become dangerous to us.

So what are you leaning on in your life? In your practice? In your studies?

It is time to shift our reliance, and enjoy the wonderful privilege we have been given (Eph.1:15-20) of trusting and leaning on the Lord.