Background: God’s people (Hebrews) where in bondage in Egypt (some say from 116 – 430 years) and the people no doubt probably thought God had forgotten all about their plight.
However, a little Hebrew baby boy (around 1520 B.C), of the tribe of Levi, was born (during the decree of slaying of all male children in Egypt). His name in Hebrew was “drawn out”, his Egyptian name was “Child,” we call him “Moses.” His mother somehow secretly put her son in a basket and placed some reeds along the Nile where the Pharaoh’s daughter normally came to bathe. The daughter found the child and took him to be her own; she hired a Hebrew nurse (which was his real mother) to be his nanny. His childhood was taught (by his Nanny) that he was really a Hebrew; during his teen years and up to about the age of 40, he lived as a Prince of Egypt (and would have likely become king of Egypt). He had the best education of the time. Had the run of the place (as they say). Then, one day he witnessed the mistreatment of a Hebrew; he was so angered, he killed the Egyptian and was forced into exile. He went to the desert in Midian and there married a wife. Moses became shepherd to his father-in-law’s sheep – a non-descript, simple life, a life of hardship and danger, exposed to extreme hot and cold, with little food and no comforts at all. Usually he was secluded in the wilderness where he spent almost 40 years (the second 40 years) of his life. He had been a somebody (a Prince of Egypt for 40 years); then he was a nobody (40 years as a shepherd) in seclusion in the desert of Midian.
It was in that secluded desert in Midian (as a nobody) – (a lowly shepherd) that Moses received his “call” – THE call of his life.
God was unwrapping the cloak of mystery that had been covered for so long. He was peeling off layer after layer of divine truth in a process of self-disclosure designed to prepare Moses for the most demanding assignment of his lifetime.
Thru the burning bush (that usually burned up instantly, but kept burning), God spoke and revealed attributes to Moses that had never been revealed before. God was revealing all the resources that Moses needed to fulfill his calling. Moses would know that God does not call the prepared, but God prepares the called. He was experiencing that truth right here, right now in the middle of a secluded desert. Moses was to know something great and amazing. He was to know that God was with Moses. God is the source of all that Moses would ever need. It seems that anyone would been convinced after all that, but Moses was still reluctant. But…but…but…but they will not believe me, will not listen to me…. They will laugh at me; they won’t take me seriously… Lord, I just can’t do this…You’ll have to find someone else to do this job. I just can’t do this.
In Chap. 4:2, God asks Moses, “What’s that in your hand?” Moses says, “A Stick!” “Just a stick.” “Just a plain ole walking stick.”
Moses had used the old stick (a cracked and twisted ole Acacia branch) to climb the steep mountain sides. Walking sticks were common in that time. In Egypt all their gods carried walking sticks of gold. Most all shepherds used just plain ole walking sticks.
God said, “Throw it down.” Moses threw it down – the moment it hit the ground it became a hissing, frightening snake. It coiled and recoiled; its eyes focused on the form of a tall paralyzed man (Moses) before him.
The black Cobra was a common sight in both Egypt and Sinai. It was highly respected.
Anyone in his right mind, would keep a safe distance from the Cobra. Moses immediately fled. (He had more than a little common sense). He fled from the snake, but God was about to reveal His power to Moses – His all Powerfulness in all the earth’s kingdoms. His ability to change a stick into a snake was a demonstration of power. As Moses retreats from the snake, then God says, “Reach out and pick it up by the tail.” Anyone knows better than that. People don’t pick up a snake by its tail. Moses probably thought he had taken loss of his sense to do such a thing, but God said, “Pick it up.” When God tells you to do something, you do it. Moses reached out and touched its tail, and the deadly snake became a harmless stick as soon as Moses fingers touched it.
It was appropriate for God to use a Cobra. Moses knew the awesome place of power in Egypt. He knew the Cobra was the symbol of power. God’s message to Moses is: God is fearful of no one; no thing. He is ALL powerful; Omnipotent; Almighty, Eternal. God’s message to Moses was, and is for us, God is with Moses to follow his calling, so Moses has everything he needs to do the job he has been called to do. Moses was still having a little trouble. Moses was kind of like I was when God called me to preach. I could not speak before people. I took a zero instead of having to get up before a class of my peers and speak. I wrestled with the calling. So did Moses.
In Vs. 6, God tells Moses to put his hand in his bosom. When Moses pulled his hand out and it was leprous, as the fallen snow. God said, put it in again, and when he pulled it out again his hand was made whole. God had a lot of patience with Moses. Just like He did with me.
God’s display of power is that all kingdoms of the earth are subject to Him – the animal kingdom, the vegetable kingdom, the mineral kingdom, even the spiritual kingdom, even Satan himself is subject to God. When Moses what shall I say about You, got says “I AM.” I AM means God has no past, no future, no up, no down, He just is. I AM. We can really not define God, he is beyond description.
Moses was to learn the Awesome Power of God. God IS ALL power.
God is All powerful
All of His acts are done without effort;
God expends energy without depleting it;
God expends energy without becoming tired;
God never sweats; He is never out of breath;
God never requires rest….He never sleeps;
God is I AM that I AM. Nothing more to say.
Everything in His heavens, above and beyond it, creates anything God tells it to. The galaxy has more than 100 billion stars; we are only one of billions of other galaxies; it is estimated that there are billions of galaxies beyond our comprehension. Our human mind cannot contain the vastness of God and His creations.
Yet the all-powerful God declared to Moses and to us, all the lesser powers, (time and space), are subject to the greater power of our God.
God was preparing Moses for the inevitable moment when heaven’s power, operating through one submissive and responsive person would collide with earth’s most powerful arrogant and mighty monarch. God was showing Moses (in advance) who would win. He would deliver the children of Israel out of Egypt through the Red Sea on dry ground to another land. And, (eventually after wandering in the desert for another 40 years because of their unbelief) He led them to site of the Promised Land.
What’s that in your hand? What do you have? It’s just a stick. I can’t do much, I only have just enough money to live on; I have limited education (I don’t have a degree); I have a sick and crippled body; my mind is not what it used to be. BUT you have in your arthritic hands, legs, and forgetful mind, empowered by the Great I Am, you have enough!
God never asks us to give something we are unable to give; He never calls us to do something we cannot do; he never calls us to go where we cannot go. He always provides us what we need to give to others in their time of need. I learned a lot about how God works with people who seemingly have little or nothing to give. My job was visiting nursing homes across Louisiana. I always wanted to lift-up the residents with every visit, but I was always the one lifted up.
A 102 year old man always lifted me up; two ladies (sisters in 80s and 90s) always did their best to leave me better than I arrived. A retired teacher always gave me a little verse she had written; and on and on it went in residents in 35 nursing homes. These people didn’t have MUCH, they had lived with almost unbearable pain, loneliness and sorrow, but they enriched my life every time I visited them (and I got paid to provide a service to them) and always wanted to make a little difference to them, but they always made more than a little difference to me..
What’s that in your hand? Use it. There is someone who needs what you can give. Your smile… a kind word…. Your prayers. Share your testimony how God has blessed you.
Moses thought he was all washed up…over the hill…. finished (he was 80 years old, for God’s sake); he thought he had nothing left to give…but God showed him that even a simple stick blessed by God has more power than the greatest kingdom on earth. O, yes, there’s more to the story. He led the people through the Red Sea on dry ground… And that’s not all… He became the lawgiver of Israel. God did a lot of miraculous things through Moses when he was past 80. So, I can’t wait!
Today is a good day to give that stick in your hand to God. Let Him do with it according to His will. Give your life (everything in you and everything in your hand) and patiently wait for Him to what He wants to do with you.
Let us pray together:
Holy Father, Almighty, Majestic and All-Powerful God, we stand here today holding the stick in our hands… no matter how much or how few things we have to give, we put what we have in your hands; show us, as you did with Moses, the “call” on our lives. Help us to listen to your call – as you did with Moses; and help us to follow our calling knowing that Gid supplies our every need. God does not call the prepared; He prepares the “called.”
Help us to surrender our call right here, right now and let us move forward to the task to which he is calling us.
In Jesus name.