BY THE TAIL
“Suppose they say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you?’ ’’
Maybe it’s because of my son’s current circumstances, but I realized that God’s response to Moses’ question wasn’t full of warm fuzzies. And isn’t warm fuzzies what we are looking for, what we expect when we ask God to confirm that it is indeed He speaking?
God’s first response was to tell Moses to throw down his staff. Ok! Not difficult. But the hissing snake at Moses’ feet the next moment elicited one and only one response in Moses. Flight! No warm fuzzy here.
To those knowing about snakes, God’s next direction seems more unreasonable still.
“Reach out your hand and take it by the tail.”
Notice! God doesn’t take the action; He calls Moses to take the action. God doesn’t first say, “Be still, and see what I will do on your behalf.” God’s directive is for Moses to act without any clue of what to expect.
“Reach out your hand.”
I can just hear Moses. “I don’t think so!”
“Oh, and Moses, take it by the tail.”
“The tail??? The tail, LORD? You meant grab it behind the head, right? Everyone knows that if you have to pick up a snake, you grab it behind head.”
“Nope! I mean the tail.”
Talk about hard obedience, about heart stopping vulnerability. And it wasn’t until Moses had obeyed that God spoke again, revealing His purpose for calling Moses to that action.
“That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
I learn some things about God here in His dealing with Moses, and I learn some things about human nature.
God answers when we ask for assurances of His direction in our life, but it isn’t always what our eyes would perceive as an ‘assurance’ answer. Moses’ first response is such a sight-response, a right up my alley sight & flight response. He flees.
And I can’t help but wonder how often I’ve fled from the very thing God meant to bring me assurance because it wasn’t what I wanted, wasn’t what I expected, because it wasn’t a feel-good moment of assurance. How often have I turned my back on what God designed to reveal the power and glory of God to me and to others?
You know, God’s continuing answer to Moses’ desire for assurance that it was God directing didn’t get easier. If anything, the fear and insecurity increased. Certainly, Moses’ questioning escalated a level or two, and he had to be asking “What am I getting into?” when God immediately spoke again.
“Put your hand in your bosom.”
Warm fuzzy assurance time? When Moses removed a leprous hand, I imagine warm fuzzies the last thing he was experiencing. Then to be told to put that leprous hand back into his bosom, into contact with his healthy flesh?
Unlike Namaan, Moses wasn’t told that obedience would bring restoration. He simply was called to unimaginably difficult obedience, without guarantees of rose gardens. In fact, Moses already knew there would be God-ordained desert ahead.
More and more I realize as children of God we’re called to walk Gethsemane’s garden, that place of hard obedience, that sod of “Not my will, but Thine.” That soil where death occurs, that we might know life. We’re called to put aside the idea of an obedience of ease, to reach out our hand, take the serpent by the tail, and see God deliver according to His will and purpose that others might believe.
(Reflections on Exodus 4:1-8)
© 24 April 24, 2006
DeAnna L. Brooks
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