How Authority Works
So the LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A rod.” And He said, “Cast it on the ground.” So he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Reach out your hand and take it by the tail (and he reached out his hand and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand), 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.”
Furthermore the LORD said to him, “Now put your hand in your bosom.” And he put his hand in his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous, like snow. And He said, “Put your hand in your bosom again.” So he put his hand in his bosom again, and drew it out of his bosom, and behold, it was restored like his other flesh. “Then it will be, if they do not believe you, nor heed the message of the first sign, that they may believe the message of the latter sign.” (Exodus 4:1-8)
Understandably, Moses needed assurance of his calling. It was a huge task he was being asked to undertake. After all, in an attempt to lead them 40 years earlier he’d failed miserably. The Israelites had completely misunderstood him and his intentions in the matter of the killing of the oppressive Egyptian (Exodus 2:11-14; Acts 7:22-30).
Therefore Moses asked what would happen if the Jews refused to believe him at this time. The LORD’s answer is not only reassuring, but also instructive for us today.
In our text, Moses is instructed to do two things. One, he is to throw his rod to the ground and see it turn into a serpent, then pick up that same serpent by the tail (NOT the way to handle snakes, normally). Secondly, he was to place his hand into the fold of his garment and see it become leprous, then re-place the leprous hand into the same place and watch as it came out clean and free of leprosy.
Viewing these signs, the people would believe that Yahweh had sent Moses as their deliverer.
In this story, I see a couple of possible parallels with spiritual significance for me and other believers. While I do not believe that these applications are the primary interpretation of the text, I am encouraged by them nonetheless.
In the first sign, Moses was to demonstrate the LORD’s mastery over the serpent. In the second sign, he was to demonstrate the LORD’s mastery over fleshly uncleanness.
The serpent represents the devil all throughout scripture (Genesis 3:1-15; Revelation 12:9). Leprosy is a picture of the insidious and destructive nature of the flesh (Leviticus 13-14).
So isn’t it interesting that Moses’ authority with the people would be established as he (typically and symbolically) gained victory over the devil and the flesh?
Here’s how this truth speaks to me today, because I want to be used of God. I want to be His representative, one He will send to be a blessing and help to others. I am sure the Lord will properly gift and enable me for any task He requires of me, but there is also a responsibility that I have as His servant.
I must defeat the devil in my own life (with the armor of God and the weapons of righteousness)… Ephesians 6:10-18.
I must also conquer the flesh life by allowing the Spirit to reign victoriously in me (Galatians 5:16-24; Romans 8:12-13).
As I do these things, my life and calling will be believable by others.
I think it will be the same for you.
Thanks for reading.
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