From Shepherd’s Staff to the Staff of God
And take your shepherd’s staff with you… Ex 4:17 NLT
In Exodus 4 we read about the calling of Moses and learn of his fearful responses to that call. The lessons in this chapter are invaluable for us today because God is still calling every believer into his eternal service. We are being ushered into the service of our Lord in a day when the god of this present world is successfully destroying all meaningful and righteous building blocks in the land.
When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do? Ps 11:3 NIV
Satanism and Satanic Ritual Abuse are ubiquitous, deeply ingrained in our culture, and yet are virtually hidden in plain sight. The church has basically chosen to ignore its existence leaving the enemy essentially free to operate with impunity. Consequently, the victims of satanic activity are mostly left to fend for themselves without spiritual care, covering and effectual ministry.
I believe what we are seeing in this scripture is a foreshadowing of last days ministry—a ministry that can withstand satanic assault and be spiritually capable of taking the battle right to the gates of hell. This kind of ministry won’t be for the quasi-committed, institutionally religious, still in love with the world church attender. That would be tantamount to sending a soldier into harms way with no training or weapons.
Unless we are irrevocably and entirely yielded to Jesus, committed to follow wherever he leads us, we will suffer ignoble defeat before Satan’s minions. If we are unwilling to pay the cost of discipleship, we will not be enlisted in the ranks of him who with a bow and a crown and mounted on a white horse rode out conquering and to conquer. Paul encouraged Timothy calling him into the Lord’s service:
Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. 2 Tim 2:3,4 NLT
The Apostle Paul, after suffering multiple beatings and scourgings, shipwreck and rejection of his own people, knew the “marks” he bore attested to his commander and cause:
From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Gal 6:17 KJV
The Greek word for “mark” in the N.T. is “stigma,” and it means a mark pricked in or branded upon the body. All Roman soldiers were branded with a hot iron to signify their connection to the Roman army. They gladly accepted this mark with pride. Paul indicated that everything he endured was worth it in service to his Lord and master.
In Exodus 4, we see that God was ready to deliver his people from captivity and he knew only supernatural demonstrations and actions would effectually counter the satanism of that day. We see the manifestation of Satanism in how the wise men and magicians in Pharaoh’s court used occult and magical arts to replicate the miracle of the staff becoming a serpent. The Lord began the process of calling Moses with something totally supernatural. Interestingly, it is not unusual in the desert where Moses was to experience spontaneous combustion with dry brush. However, the miraculous part of what God did with Moses was in how the bush was burning but not consumed. As God laid out the plan of deliverance to Moses, he was struck with fear and insecurity. It sounds so unlike the person who slew the Egyptian many years hence. It could have been that the experience with the Egyptian crippled his sense of confidence and self-reliance.
As the Lord progressed in his calling of Moses, he used the shepherd’s staff of Moses to demonstrate the miraculous and show Moses what he was calling him into. In this scenario of what I see as the true church of Jesus Christ coming into awesome ministry in the last days, the shepherd’s staff represents all that we bring as ordinary, non-exceptional people to the battle. It stands for whatever education, training, experiences, talents, skills and just plain natural abilities that define our lives, who we are as persons. After the Lord demonstrated what that meant in the Lord’s hands, he than reminded Moses, “And take your shepherd’s staff with you, and use it to perform the miraculous signs I have shown you.” After Moses gathered his family, the Lord gave him one more reminder, telling him, “…go to Pharaoh and perform all the miracles I have empowered you to do.”
We have one more piece of fascinating information in this story which ties everything together. When Moses gathered his family and departed for Egypt, the scripture says, “… In his hand he carried the staff of God.” When Moses was first confronted by the Lord, he was carrying a shepherd’s staff! After his encounter with the Lord, he was carrying the staff of God! What took place between the burning bush and the departure for Egypt? Why was the shepherd’s staff now the staff of God?
I want to suggest it was the same thing that happened to Saul on the road to Damascus. After meeting Jesus, Saul’s response was, “What shall I do, Lord?” How did one who was breathing threats and murder and eager to destroy the Lord’s followers come to a place of utter acquiescence? For some of us, change is a process and may seem to transpire rather slowly. For Saul, it all happened at once. In that brief encounter with Jesus, Saul completely surrendered his life to the Lord. When Saul said, “What shall I do,” he was saying, my life is entirely yours, do with me what you will. All the religious, formulaic, tradition, and institutionalism of the Old Covenant melted from him as he lay on that fateful road before Messiah in that providential meeting. Saul’s “shepherd’s staff” became the staff of God.
All those who answered Jesus’ call to follow experienced something similar. The fishermen, Simon, Andrew, James and John left everything and followed. Levi, the hated turncoat tax collector, rose from his place of business, left everything, and followed Jesus. Zacchaeus, chief among tax collectors, responded to Jesus by giving half his wealth to the poor and rectifying his cheating by paying back double. Jesus said, “Salvation has come to this home today.”
Moses’ shepherd’s staff became the staff of God because he brought everything he had and everything he was in his natural life and surrendered it to Christ. The natural in Jesus’ hands becomes the supernatural. When we see the gifts of the Holy Spirit in operation, we are seeing them manifested through real people just like you and me. The qualifying factor is one’s utter, unreserved, surrendered life to Christ. Moses chose to forfeit life in Pharaoh’s court to follow God’s plan for Israel. The Word says, “He chose to suffer oppression with God’s people rather than to experience the fleeting enjoyment of sin.”
When Moses fled to the back side of the Midianite desert upon the knowledge of his slaying the Egyptian becoming public, he lost the fellowship, support and encouragement of being among the people of God. In this condition, he had difficulty believing he could be used of the Lord for awesome ministry defeating the hordes of hell. I think most of us live with very similar thoughts. We don’t tend to think of ourselves as extraordinary individuals and we don’t expect to accomplish exceptional, phenomenal feats. We are kind of like those in the book of Ezra who upon seeing the foundation laid for the second temple wept. They despised small things, small beginnings because they had seen the original temple. Yet Haggai prophesied, “The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts…”
If we are going to minister in these last days, anticipating the coming of our Lord to set up his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, facing the greatest satanic assault this world has ever known, we will have to see our shepherd’s staff become the staff of God. That will only happen if we, like Levi and many others before us, get up, leave everything, and follow Jesus. This means we must be done with the love of the world and the things of the world. It means surrendering all our personal goals, ambitions, plans and designs to Jesus. It means giving up ownership and taking up stewardship as a way of life. It means answering Jesus’ call of discipleship, offering to him everything we have and everything we are with the confidence that in his hands even miraculous deeds can be accomplished. Then our shepherd’s staff will indeed have become the staff of God.