Category Archives: Exodus

Ophidiophobia and a Slithery Lesson

Exodus 4:1–5 (NASB95)

1 Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The LORD has not appeared to you.’ ”
2 The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.”
3 Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it.
4 But the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand—
5 “that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

 

One sunny Saturday not too long ago I was doing some yard work and walked around to the back yard to set the timer on the irrigation system. As I came through the gate I saw a brownish snake with red, yellow and black rings slithering along the base of the wall, stopping every few inches and trying to crawl up the wall. It was evidently looking for an entry point into the house. I tried to remember the rhyme in my head – was it a coral snake or a king snake? I decided that it was a moot point whatever that rhyme was, because my rhyme is “See a snake son, go get the gun.” Since I didn’t see the advantage of shooting into my own house (although I have a story about a friend who did have that experience, maybe I’ll tell you sometime) I went to the shed for a more suitable instrument for dispatching the intruder. When I returned to the scene with a suitably long-handled hoe, the snake was gone. In the meantime I had Googled coral snake on my iPhone and determined that it was in fact a coral snake I was dealing with. Just in case you’re interested the rhyme goes like this – “Red touches black, good luck Jack. Red touches yellow, kill the fellow.” As you can probably tell, I’m not a huge fan of snakes, especially potentially deadly ones (coral snake venom is as lethal as a cobra’s) that happen to be slithering around in my back yard. I’m in good company though, because Moses didn’t like snakes either.

We pick up our story after God speaks to Moses from the burning bush and gives him his assignment. Moses has a bigger fear than ophidiophobia though. His biggest fear was atychiphobia, the fear of failure. See, Moses had doubts about whether he was able to perform God was calling him to do. To help him understand that he didn’t need to be able, just available, God showed him a sign, a sign that he was afraid of. God told him to throw down his shepherd’s staff and it turned into a snake and Moses ran from that snake. Now the Lord asked him to do the unthinkable (in my mind anyway) – reach down and pick it up, by the tail no less. The limited experience I have with catching snakes is that you want to grab them behind the head so they can’t whip around and bite you. You have to give Moses credit because he reached down and grabbed that snake. Even though he was afraid of it, he had enough faith to pick it up when God told him to.

I think there is a good lesson that we can learn from Moses’ experience. Moses was afraid of the snake and ran from it but his bigger fear was the calling God has placed on his life. By demonstrating the faith to pick up the snake without fear of being harmed by it, he learned to pick up the mantle that God had placed on him as deliverer of God’s people.

Is there something that are you afraid of? Something that God wants you to do but you’re not doing because of fear? Moses teaches us that it is possible to set aside your fear and reach out and grab what you have been running from. After the burning bush and the rod-snake, Moses took the next step in his journey which was to head back to Egypt. That’s another lesson that Moses teaches us. All that we have to be concerned about today is just the next step. One step. Will you take it today?

The Test You Should Never Give

(Exodus 17:2 NIV)
2 So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?”
7 And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

There are two ways of testing God. The first way is to call into question his power and goodness, the second is to presume upon his mercy and grace when we sin.

This passage gives us an example of the first way. Because the people did not have water, they questioned God’s existence. It’s interesting to note that God had led them to the place of no water (Exodus 17:1). He provided water for them at that dry place just as He had given them food. To make His power even more convincing, He brought the water from a most unlikely source – a rock (Exodus 17:6). Are you in a dry place in your life? Don’t make the mistake of doubting God’s goodness or His power to work in your situation. Look for Him, listen to Him and trust Him. He will see you through.

The second way of testing the Lord God is found in the statement, “I can do anything I want because God has to take care of me.” Even though that may be an extreme example, we’ve all been guilty of the same sentiment. Any time that we intentionally step out of His will, we are presuming upon God’s mercy and grace. Are you engaged in willful, disobedient behavior? Don’t make the mistake of presuming upon God’s grace. Repent of that sin and return to the One who died for you.

Father, please forgive us for the times we have put you to the test. Help us, Lord, to trust your power and love always and never presume upon your mercy and grace.

Stay or Go?

(Exodus 40:17, 36-37 NIV)
17 So the tabernacle was set up on the first day of the first month in the second year.
36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out;
37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out—until the day it lifted.

It had been a year since the Israelites had left Egypt and they had been camped at Mount Sinai for about nine months. During this time God gave them the law and they constructed His dwelling place, the tabernacle. On the day it was erected for the first time, the tabernacle became the focal point of the Israelites because God dwelt there among His people. The cloud signified God’s presence and as long as the cloud was there, they stayed put. When the cloud lifted, it was time to go. God’s Spirit directed their daily lives in accordance with His ultimate plan for them.

I’m sure some of the people were anxious to get moving. They wanted to get to their new country and settle down. They probably never unpacked the whole time they were at Sinai. I’m equally sure that others had gotten comfortable there in the desert. When it came to leave, they weren’t happy about hitting the road again. Consider however, what would have happened to a group of people who decided to leave ahead of schedule. They didn’t know where they were going and most likely would have ended up being destroyed by the inhabitants of the area. Likewise, if when the Israelites left, some decided to stay behind and settle there, they would have suffered the same fate. Although it may be hard waiting for the cloud to move or leaving when it does, the key to success is obedience.

God doesn’t dwell in a tent any more; He dwells in the heart of all believers. We don’t have a cloud to watch; He directs us through His Holy Spirit. Other than the cloud and the tent, things are much the same today as they were at Mount Sinai. God still has an ultimate plan for His people and still directs each life on a daily basis in accordance with that plan. The key to success is obedience.

Think about your life today. Do you want a change but can’t put your finger on what you should do? Maybe you should stay put for a while. God may be teaching you something that will prepare you for your next assignment. Do you feel the Lord nudging you to move but you don’t want to because you’re comfortable? Confess your complacency and release yourself to Him because you won’t be truly happy otherwise. Stay or go, the key to success is obedience.