Exodus 4:2-4, “And the Lord said unto Moses, What is that in your hand? And he said, A rod.
3-And He said, Cast (throw) it on the ground. And he cast (threw) it on the ground and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.
4-And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth your hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand.”
Rod of Remembrance:
The rod in Moses hand was also called a ‘staff.’ Both being a symbol of authority. It could and was used as a weapon when needed. The people of that day would carve their past history down the length of the staff they carried. In the same respect, you could say it would be the same as someone keeping a dairy today. In keeping with tradition, Moses had carved his past history on his staff, therefore carrying it with him wherever he went as a constant reminder of his past failures.
This is the same thing that a lot of God’s people have done. Even after they have been born again and had their sins washed away by the blood of Jesus. I’ve done the same. But today is a new beginning for a lot of people and God is saying, ‘Its time to throw down the rod!’
This is what God told Moses to do but He had not let go of it yet. He still remembered where he came from. He still remembered that he had been born a Jew and raised as an Egyptian in the house of Pharaoh by Pharaoh’s daughter. He still remembered lifting his hand in anger to kill an Egyptian when he saw a Hebrew brother being beaten. He remembered being scared and running for his life because Pharaoh had threatened to kill him.
Satan always tries to take out those whom God has destined for greatness in the Kingdom of God (John 10:10). That means, he has to try to kill all of us because God has predestined each and every person born into this earth for greatness and to do mighty exploits in the world through Him. Jesus said, “Greater works than these shall you do, because I go to My Father” (John 14:12).
So, God told Moses to throw down the rod in his hand but he still held on to it. Until Moses stopped HOLDING the past, he wouldn’t be able to RECEIVE his future destiny. He would remain stuck in the past yesterday’s when God wanted to give him a future of tomorrow’s. God wants to give you the same thing but first, you will have to throw down the rod in YOUR hand. God is telling you today to let go of the past, release it to Him and thrown down the rod. You must bring your past, all the mistakes, all the failures you’ve ever had---all the hurts, all the anger and bitterness, all the unforgiveness, the envy and jealousy, the pride and self-pity---all of it, and cast it DOWN!
II Cor.10:5, “Casting DOWN imaginations, and every high (proud) thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”
You have to stop the past from exalting itself in your mind and above the knowledge of God. The ‘exalting’ of things comes through our ‘thoughts.’ Thinking about the past, rehashing over and over the wrongs you did back then, getting caught up in the “I shoulds and I shouldn’t have’s.” This keeps you going around and around in a circle of self-condemnation. It would be about like a cat chasing its tail and never catching up with it. You seem to always be on the move, running behind and never quite getting to the place where God has called and ordained for you to be. You end up wasting precious time. And know this, satan is a ‘time’ stealer, while God says, “Redeem the time for the days are evil.”
Confronting the Serpents:
When you run from the sin God is showing you about yourself, it is to deny it. You don’t stop to think that your denial is actually calling God a liar. Ouch! We’re all guilty of this at one time or another.
I John 1:10, “If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.”
So, Holy Spirit comes to you one day in your prayer time and says, “You need to deal with this sin (whatever it might be). Its hindering your time with Me.” Because of man’s instinct for flight, you’re going to want to run in denial. When confronted with the uncovering of some hidden sin in your life that you’ve forgotten about, you want to get out of the light of the truth, and get back into the shadows as quickly as possible where it feels safe. One way we do this, besides denial, is to blame someone or something else. Thus, you’ve heard the saying, “The devil made me do it.”
You try to tell God that it’s the other person’s fault that you committed this particular sin. You claim your innocence and maintain that they are guilty. I have been here when God was dealing with me over some incident and I tried to wiggle out of it by protesting, “But God, look what THEY did!” I have never once been able to persuade God to go for that. Instead, He would always insist that I look at what ‘I’ did. What THEY did wasn’t any of my business. It was between them and Him, and He would deal with them in His own time and in His own way. Not mine. He was there to deal with me and my sin. I have even gotten angry with God and stomped out of the room where I had been praying, muttering, “I don’t want to talk about it anymore.” I literally closed the door on God, thinking I had left Him behind. Isn’t that ridiculous when Jesus said, “I’ll never leave you?” But once I got to my bedroom, He was there waiting for me and He continued talking to me. It was painful but I did face the truth God was showing me and I repented. Moses was faced with this same thing when God confronted him with the truth.
Probably none of you has ever done something like this, that is, get upset with God. I have learned that if I am upset, He wants me to talk to Him about it. He wants to know what is on my heart, just like I want to know what is on His heart. He already knows my heart but to express it is for my benefit. It becomes another opportunity where God can show His love for me, even when correction is involved.
It becomes a time of intimate communion where more bonding takes place between Father and daughter. It becomes a precious time of learning and gaining more insight into things you didn’t know before. God wants us to honor Him by being honest with ourselves as we’re honest with Him. Honor comes from the word “honest.” Thus, we honor our Father God when we’re honest in how we think and feel at any given time. And even when we receive correction, it is always through His love.
Self righteous pride and fear will always make you run from your own guilt of sin, while pointing your finger at someone else. We run in denial through blame just as Adam did when he blamed God and the woman for his troubles. There was the woman taken in adultery and brought to Jesus. He looked at her, then he looked at the crowd gathered there to condemn her---they were running in denial of their own sin. Jesus said to them, “You, who are without sin, cast (throw) the first stone.” Through the searing truth of His words, the people were made to look , if only briefly, at their own sin. And when they saw it, the stones fell from their hands and they walked away.
The woman never did deny her sin. She admitted to it and she received the Lord’s forgiveness. She was set free by the power of God. The others were convicted in their hearts of their sin but instead of turning to Jesus, they turned away from the living water that He offered them. They didn’t repent. Today, God still shows people the truth of where they are and gives them opportunity to repent but like those religious Jews, they may turn away sorrowful and never come to experience God’s loving grace of forgiveness.
As soon as Moses threw down his rod, it became a serpent and he ran from it. When you see the word ‘serpent’ used in scripture, its usually referring to satan, sin or Jesus (Numbers chap. 21) in the wilderness with the children of Israel. It can also represent the ‘wisdom’ of the Lord, “be wise as serpents…” God sent firey serpents to the Israelites when they began complaining about God and about Moses---they didn’t like this, and they were unhappy with that.
God didn’t take too kindly to their murmuring, not since they had asked God to deliver the Canaanites into their hands so they could destroy them out of the land. God listened and answered their prayer. He gave them the victory but afterwards, they began griping, “God, why have you brought us out of Egypt and brought us out here into the desert to die? And why do we have to eat this same old manna day after day, etc., etc.?” Thus, God sent firey serpents among them. There’s a lesson here for us who complain too much.
Finally, it was so bad that the people went to Moses and said, “We’ve sinned against God, pray Moses; intercede for us that God will take away the serpents.” A lot of the people had already died and many more were about to die. So, Moses went to God on their behalf. In the end, God told Moses to make a firey serpent, put it on a pole and lift it up from the ground. Then God said, have the people look upon it and when they do, they will be healed.
Moses obeyed God. He made the serpent out of brass, then he put it on a pole and lifted it up from the ground. When the sun hit it the brass, it had the appearance of being on fire, thus, the firey serpent. when the people looked upon it, they were healed. This was a prophetic picture of Jesus who was lifted up from the ground on a cross so that we could look upon Him to receive the provision of salvation through God’s grace. We would live and not die spiritually. Praise God!
So, Moses, being on the backside of the desert, he had a choice to either obey God or continue running in denial and disobedience. It is usually in our wilderness experience that God will show us the serpents in our lives. We’re not usually faced with them when we’re on the mountaintop of victory. And its hard to get that mountaintop victory until you have successfully faced your serpents in the wilderness.
We are brought to the place where we’re required to look at our serpents through God’s view. When we look through His eyes of righteousness and truth, what we see is repulsive and every instinct within us says, RUN! The truth is, we seldom deal with our serpents and get rid of them until we allow God to show us what they look like from His view. We can’t look at those things with our preconceived ideas and see them accurately.
This is because you’ll always dress it up a little bit so as to make it more bearable to look at. It would be like putting a coat of paint on an old barn that’s about ready to fall in. Or like putting sugar on grapefruit before you eat it. The ‘sugar’ would help you handle the bitter taste. We’re all guilty of dressing up our serpents so they don’t look as ugly as they really are.
Obviously, Moses only ran so far when God told him to pick up his serpent by the tail. Can you imagine being told to do something like this? Like I said, our first instinct is to run. We don’t want to handle it. Let somebody else do it and we’ll get as far away from it as possible. “But God, why should I have to apologize first? He/she started the argument.” “But its YOUR serpent, pick it up by the tail.” Picking your serpents up by the tail is not only facing the truth but also taking responsibility for it.
Several years ago, I was cleaning house on a Saturday. My husband was home doing some things around the house also. I had forgotten to empty a trash basket in one of the bedrooms and as I came through the house, I saw him with it in his hand. He was on his way to empty it. Instead of thanking him for the gesture, I said, “Well, what do you know? miracle of all miracles.” When he first saw me, he was smiling because he thought he was being helpful, which he was. But now his smile faded. Not being used to the help, I had reacted badly.
I went into the bathroom to replace the trash basket when Holy Spirit nailed me before I could get out of the door again. He said, “You go in there and apologize to him and ask for his forgiveness.” I began protesting, “But Lord, do I HAVE to?” I was trying to weasel out of having to humble myself and do what the Lord said. I was trying to ‘run’ from it.
Holy Spirit never changed His mind but rather told me a second time. The conviction of my heart made me ashamed of how I had responded to the kind gesture of my husband. I confessed the sin right there and asked the Lord’s forgiveness. Then, I went to my husband and apologized for my unkind remark. I sincerely thanked him for his help and asked his forgiveness, to which he responded with a smile, “Ah, that’s okay.”
Slowly and painfully, we learn but thank God for His patience in teaching us how to be more Christ-like in every facet of our lives as we inter-act with others. When we’re obedient, it brings the blessings of God. That incident had happened only moments earlier, but already it was a part of my past. Just as Moses did when God came to him, we have to TAKE HOLD of our past and deal with it righteously.
God told Moses to take hold of the serpent by the tail, that is, take hold of the past and don’t deny it any longer. Take responsibility for your own serpents. Nobody else can or will take hold of it for you. It’s your choice of will to either continue to run from the sin God is showing you, or take hold of it and say, “Its mine. I stand guilty and convicted of this particular sin. I choose to acknowledge it and take responsibility for it. I confess the sin and Lord, I ask forgiveness. You are a faithful God and you are just, therefore, I believe I receive forgiveness and cleansing by the blood of Jesus, Amen.”
Take hold of the serpent of your past by the tail and deal with it in the way God shows you lest it bites you. Don’t mess around with it, pondering it. Don’t give the devil time or opportunity to condemn you over your past and cause you to become discouraged. Don’t allow satan the time to beat you over the head with ‘you should have done this, or you shouldn’t have,’ and then tell you how rotten you are. As long as your past is reconciled with God, the devil is defeated because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross. If we will deal with past sins quickly, the devil won’t be able to bring those things up to bite us with condemnation and accusation. Not long ago the Lord told me, “The devil can’t condemn what I have already forgiven.” Praise God!
Romans 8:1, “There is NOW (at this present moment) NO condemnation to them (you and me) who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.”
Luke 10:19, “Behold, I give unto you power, to tread on serpents, and over scorpions, and over ALL the power of the enemy. And nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
When Moses took hold of the serpent, this was to take authority over the enemy’s evil works. We can’t literally bind satan himself but we can throw a ‘monkey wrench,’ if you will, and bring a halt to his stealing, killing and destroying in our lives and in the lives of our families, etc. Through the power of the word of God (Matt.18:18), and through the name of Jesus and the blood, all empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can use the authority Jesus delegated to us to bind demons and destroy satans evil plans of destruction
(Isaiah 10:27--I John 3:8).
Once Moses, by faith did as the Lord said, and he picked up the serpent by the tail, immediately it became a rod again. He had dealt with the past and he had received the same righteousness accounted to him the way it had been accounted to Abraham. Plain and simple, it was so because Moses and Abraham believed God. Moses had taken authority over his past failures and had reconciled them to God, never to allow them to be a stumbling block to him any longer. He was now ready to embrace his calling and his future in God.
At closer inspection, the rod Moses now held in his hand wasn’t the same rod he had thrown down. It was different. The rod that had served to be a master of condemnation over him, beating him up for the last forty years was gone. This rod he now held was new. A transformation had taken place (II Cor. 5:17). Let me say it again, Moses now had God-given authority through the blood Jesus had already shed before the foundation of the world.
It would be activated through Moses faith to believe God was who He said He was, and that He would do what He said He would do. In this place of authority, Moses faith would be activated to believe God when he was told to stretch forth the rod over the water and the Red Sea would split apart, allowing the Israelites to walk across it on dry land. Or for the anointing (symbolically) to flow out of the Rock. The flow of ‘living water’ that would sustain and give life to all who would receive it with gladness. In the natural, Moses faith and obedience combined with God’s power produced the miracle of fresh flowing water out of a rock to sustain human life.
The Right Image:
When God appeared to Moses by way of the ‘burning bush’ and said he was being sent to Egypt to free His people from Pharaoh’s slave pits, Moses was concerned that the people wouldn’t believe that God had sent him. God assured him that the people would believe He had not only appeared to him but that He had sent Moses to them as their deliverer.
Meanwhile, he had been on the back side of the desert for forty years---he had a past that haunted him and he probably thought, to end up like this was just as well. Maybe he wasn’t to be anything other than what he was---a sheep herder in the desert. Moses had a wrong image of himself that God wanted to change. After throwing down the rod he carried and all that transpired with it, things were already changing. Finally, God told Moses to put his hand inside his coat and then withdraw it. He did as the Lord said and when he withdrew his hand from his coat, it was leprous. Moses was astonished at the sight.
Because leprosy was so contagious, people were sent to live in colonies outside cities away from others people. The Bible refers to this as being ‘outside the camp.’ A person who is not born again by the Spirit of God is considered, ‘outside the camp’ of God’s family. Plus, leprosy represents sin.
When Moses withdrew his leprous hand from his coat, God was saying (paraphrase), “Moses, your sins were as the disease of leprosy and the people there remember what you once were. Whey they looked at you, this is what they say because they associated you with your past failures.”
Then, God told Moses to put his hand back inside his coat and withdraw it again. The leprosy was completely gone.
God said to Moses (paraphrase), “This is what you look like now, Moses. The past is gone. You’re no longer outside the camp but you are exactly where I want you to be. The old is gone Moses, and the new has come, and people will see My hand (anointing) upon you. They will see My mark (favor) upon you and because of this, the people will believe that I Am has appeared to you and has sent you.”
God used the image of the leprous hand to imprint Moses mind. Not with the negative but with the positive. God wanted him to receive the correct image of who God said he was now. God showed him what he was then and what he had become now through the power and anointing of God. A wrong image was one of the things of the past that Moses had to let go of and leave forever behind if he was to go forward in the mission God had called him to. He had to begin SEEING himself the way God said.
When you ‘carry’ with you (as Moses carried the rod) a wrong image of who you think you are through life that is contrary to who God created you to be, sooner or later, it will become a stumbling block to fulfilling your purpose in the Kingdom of God. In order for Moses to fulfill his calling, God had to bring him to the place where he could change his wrong self-image and help him from that point on to see a true and correct picture of who he really was. To SEE who he had always been---a deliverer.
Moses is a picture, to one degree or another, of all of us. Just as God helped Moses to see himself as God had created him---that he was created with the potential for greatness, He is working with each of us for the same reason. He is trying to get us to let go of the rod in our hand that contains the history of our past. God is working to get us to stop ‘carrying’ it around with us everywhere we go and THROW DOWN THE ROD of the past. He’s there to help us empty ourselves of the hurts, the anger, unforgiveness, etc. and pick up that serpent by the tail and take authority over it. Holy Spirit is there as our ‘helper’ when we extend faith in our God, who is faithful to empower us to stand in His grace to exchange the past for the new of our future destiny. Amen!
God loves each of us so much that He walks every step with us on this journey of faith out of our wilderness where He leads us into our promised land flowing with milk and honey. Are you ready to throw down the rod of your past today and embrace Father God’s love and the destiny He has for your life? He has a wonderful plan for each of our lives (Jeremiah 29:11).