The Rod Of God
The staff of Moses was first called the rod of God in Exodus 4:20. Until then it had been his own. With it he had shepherded the flock of Jethro. It had been an ordinary shepherd's crook, and suddenly it became the emblem of Divine authority and the medium of Divine power.
That which he had carried daily in his hand became a sacramental sign and an instrument of the most High God. We never know the possibilities of the things in our hands till we lay them at the feet of God. Kept from Him they remain commonplace, consecrated to Him they are charged with omnipotence. Five barley loaves in the hands of a lad are but a meal for one; placed in the hands of God they feed a multitude.
What is that in thine hand? A rod; a common stick, a homely crook! Cast it on the ground at His feet, and it will become a thing of life and power. Take it again at His bidding, and the common thing will be the very rod of God in thine hand.
God trusts men with His rod. They speak His words and wield His power. In His name they command His forces and smite His enemies. It is the rod of God's strength in the hands of a man that explains His power.
It is not by the gifts and native resources of men that the exploits of faith are achieved. The excellency of the power is of God. Not by might, not by power, not by wisdom, not by organization, but by the Spirit of God is the work of God accomplished (Zech. 4:6).
It is not given to every man to carry the rod of God. For one man with the rod, there are thousands who carry the sword. It was not given to Joshua or any of the elders of Israel. Only Moses could be trusted with the rod. By great sacrifice, prolonged meditation, vision and consecration, he had been prepared to become God's deputy to Israel.
The power was of God, and to use it unworthily was a sin so grievous that it cost Moses the prize of his life. The power in the rod of God depends upon the moral and spiritual condition of the man. In the hands of the officious Gehazi the prophet's staff wrought no miracle.
Moses went into the Mount carrying the rod and Joshua led forth the troops to battle. There were thousands in the field but only three in the mount of prayer. The place of prayer had only an attendance of three. Of the three only one really prayed, but the others were necessary, for he could not have prevailed alone.
It is not said that the hands of Joshua grew tired with fighting. He could thrust and cut and hack all day; but the hands of Moses grew heavy in prayer. Men still faint in prayer, for it is harder than the toil of battle. When Jesus prayed He sweat as if it were great drops of blood. Intercession left William Bramwell exhausted and prostrate.
Men who prevail in the mount know what the apostle meant by labor in prayer. Mock the saints who may, they are the elect of God and the saviours of the world. The intercession of the rod in the hands of the praying men was mightier than ten thousand swords (Ex. 17:8-16).
Work must not be divorced from prayer, and prayer must be backed up with earnest toil. By hard fighting and hard praying the victory is sure. Moses took the rod because he had proved it to be the rod of God.
Like David with the sword that had hacked off Goliath's head he said: Give me that; there is none like it (1 Sam. 21:9). Others may object to its age, shape and style, but we have proved it. Let us be careful, lest in exchanging the old for the new we exchange the rod of God for a fancy stick. Many are finding fault with the religion of the Bible and the Cross, but in them is the power of God by which hell is conquered and sinners saved.