In Exodus, Moses saw a burning bush and decided to move up on the mountain to see this marvelous thing, “a bush burning, but not consumed”. When he drew near to it, God spoke to him and said, “God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.””. Exodus 3:5
What made the side of the mountain holy?
The presence of almighty God! When you read the account of their conversation, you realize that God had watched Moses for many years. He had been responsible for tempering and molding him through his life, not because of his education in Egypt, not because of his murder of an Egyptian taskmaster, and not because of Moses being a shepherd for forty years. God had a task for him and through all of that, God had made Moses into the leader and the humble man who would lead Israel out of Egypt.
1 And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee. 2 And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. 3 And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. 4 And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: 5 That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee. Exodus 4:1-5
God asked a question during their “interview” that seems silly to me. He asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?”. God knew what it was! It was his staff, it was just a dry stick that many shepherds used in their work with the sheep. He wanted Moses to see it as God saw it, an instrument of God’s power and might to be used to get Pharaoh’s attention.
It was also a representation of God and His Spirit, because God could use it to do great things. It was not to be worshiped, it was not to be put in a place of honor, it was to be used in God’s service.
A stick. What could God use a stick for? Well, during their time in the desert, a stick was used to purify water for them to drink at the spring at Marah.
The Waters of Marah: Exodus 15:22-26
22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water. 23 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. 24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? 25 And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, 26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
Now, Moses didn’t cast the tree into the waters but he used a limb from it most likely, a stick. But, when used by God even a stick can be a force for good and a force to change lives. It allowed them to drink, so it saved their lives.
Why did God use sticks? Because, without Him and His Spirit those dry sticks could do nothing but in the hand of a servant of God who is obeying God’s word, a stick can do wonders. God made the stick turn into a cobra, at one point the staff of Aaron budded and bloomed, a stick was used to purify the water at Marah. The stick didn’t do any of those things! God did!
Our God is the same God that Moses served in the wilderness. He is the same One who stood in the furnace with the Israelites when the king threw them in there for not worshiping him. He is the Creator of all things, you and me included, and He can use us even if our faith is as dry as a stick…if we will let Him!
The staff which I have in my hand has been dead for a long time, but if you can see it as a vine, like the True Vine of Jesus, you can hold it and keep it in the center of your life. It is a representation of God and His power, something to hold you up, to keep you steady in your walk with Him. It is a stick, but it can be a symbol for Jesus because it is something that we can hold and touch. Shepherds used a staff to keep the sheep in line, to help them to walk during the long days, to fend off predators, to lean on when they were tired.
All of these things, we can do with Jesus as well if we will place Him in that place where we can lean on Him. He is always near to us, we just have to acknowledge that we need Him and surrender our lives to Him. Something that our church, the church, needs to do today.
Won’t you decide to place Him at the center of your life today? Let Him assist you in your life’s struggles, no matter what they may be. He will give you the strength, the words, the wisdom and the way to get through your struggles. But, you must learn to lean on Him like a stick or a staff.