December 29, 2017
(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
The LORD had just appeared to Moses in the burning bush in the Sinai desert. God was commissioning him to go and lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land of Canaan. But Moses had his doubts, and argued with God about his calling! Let’s pick up the story in Exodus 4:1 through 5 (International Standard Version):
Then Moses answered, “Look, they won’t believe me and they won’t
listen to me. Instead, they’ll say, ‘The LORD didn’t appear to you.’”
“What’s that in your hand?” the LORD asked him. Moses answered,
“A staff.” Then God said, “Throw it on the ground.” He threw it on
the ground and it became a snake. Moses ran away from it. Then
God told Moses, “Reach out and grab its tail.” So he reached out,
grabbed it, and it became a staff in his hand. God said, “I’ve done
this so that they may believe that the LORD…has appeared to you.”
God often uses Foolish Things In Hand! In this case it was a shepherd’s staff – just a long piece of wood with a sharp hook on one end. Most depictions of a shepherd’s staff have a rather large rounded ‘crook’ at the top. But the photo accompanying this blog is the closest I could come to the real thing. The sharp hooked end could be poked into a sheep’s wool and, with a twist, the shepherd could then pull the sheep or lamb out of danger.
But back to Moses: The staff he carried wasn’t anything that special until he obeyed God by throwing it to the ground and picking up the resulting snake by the tail! From then on, it was the LORD’s staff! Think of how it was used after that:
• Concerning the plagues God sent upon Egypt:
✡ Exodus 7:20 – “…Moses and Aaron…lifted up the rod and struck the waters that were in the [Nile] river….And all the waters…were turned to blood.”
✡ Exodus 8:5 and 6 – “…Aaron stretched out his hand…with…[the] rod…over the waters of Egypt, and…frogs came up on the land….”
✡ Exodus 8:17 – “…Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod and struck the dust of the earth, and it became lice on man and beast.”
✡ Exodus 9:23 – “…Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven; and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire…on the land of Egypt….”
• Crossing the Red Sea:
✡ Exodus 14:21 and 22 – “…Moses stretched out his hand [holding the rod] over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.”
✡ Exodus 14:27 – “And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and…the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.”
• Later in the wilderness journeys:
✡ Exodus 17:5 and 6 – “…the LORD said to Moses, ‘…take in your hand your rod….I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.’ And Moses did so….”
✡ Exodus 17:8, 9, 11, and 13 – “Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim….when Moses held up his hand…with the rod of God…Israel prevailed….So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people….”
✡ Numbers 17:1, 2, 5, and 8 (concerning God’s choice of leadership) – “And the LORD spoke to Moses…,‘…get from the children of Israel…a rod from each father’s house…twelve rods. Write each man’s name on his rod….And it shall be that the rod of the man I choose will blossom….’ …on the next day…the rod of Aaron…had sprouted…buds…blossoms, and…ripe almonds.”
✡ Numbers 20:9 and 11 – “…Moses took the rod…as…the LORD…commanded him….Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly….” This was the incident where Moses disobeyed God’s order to “Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water….” (Numbers 20:8). This disobedience caused Moses to lose the privilege of leading the Israelites into the Promised Land! Yet God still supplied water for the people.
I took the time to highlight these ten incidences in which the rod of Moses and Aaron was used in miraculous ways! It was a common shepherd’s rod until it was given to the LORD! Then it became an instrument of power!
You may think that what you can offer God is rather insignificant and foolish. But remember what is written in I Corinthians 1:27: “…God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise….” What are these foolish things He has chosen? You and me! And the common and ordinary talents we can offer Him! Four years ago, at age 67, I offered God the use of the gifts He has given me – teaching and writing! It is not that I will ever be a great teacher or writer, but it is what I have to offer!
• And so was born this website, Gems For Living.
• And so there have been about 150,000 visitors to this website.
• And so, as one man wrote me, “You saved my life!” No, I did not! God did! He used my foolish gifts and touched this man’s life! I simply offered Him the Foolish Things I had In Hand!
The new year is almost upon us. What Foolish Things In Hand do you have that you might offer to the Lord?
• Moses had a shepherd’s staff! God powerfully used it and him!
• Gideon had clay pitchers and torches! (See Judges 7:16-22). The LORD used these Foolish Things and won a great victory over the Midianites!
• A boy had a lunch his mother had probably packed for him. He gave it to Jesus and 5,000 plus people were fed! (See John 6:5-13).
Just offer what you have In Hand! Let God do the rest!