Then the LORD said to him, “Stretch out your hand and take it by the tail.” So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. Ex. 4:4
The desert is hard and I am like Moses; something about the fire that consumes but does not destroy draws me. I want to know the God of the burning bush. I want to know the God of the holy ground. I want to be met in the desert of my life and meet—“I am.”
In my baser nature, however, I wonder why God asks such things of us. Why does He say such seemingly absurd things? “Take it by the tail.” Why would He put His children in such situations and then ask questions like: “Do you love me?” “Do you trust me?” “Will you obey me?”
Whatever the truth of the matter I suspect we are not told the whole story. Moses must have asked questions. Surely he was afraid. My weaker spirit would have asked at least one good question: “You want me to do what?!”
I realize I paint a dim picture of my own faith—but I hate snakes. I am very aware that my heart should rejoice in doing as the Lord commands—and it does—but I hate snakes, and perhaps Moses did too.
I realize that “to obey is better…” I know! I know this very well! But immediate obedience is the ideal, and the reality would have been a snake that I was expected to simply “pick up!” So, I would have followed the first question with an even more obvious second question: “Why?” After all, it was already a staff.
Why turn it into a snake and then ask Moses to “stretch out his hand?” “…said the clay to the potter.”
And the potter replied, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand (Job 38:4). He then spoke more gently, “Do you love me?” “Do you trust me?” “Will you obey me?” Then “stretch out your hand and pick it up!”
Snake or no snake, bite or no bite, fear or no fear—I think I too would have stretched out my hand. I would have done it not because I like snakes, not because I like pain, but because, well—because I love Him more than life itself.
I trust Him with my very life.
I desire to obey Him in all He commands.
We never know what these things will become in our hands once we take them. Were I to stretch out my hand at His command—I might someday part seas, bring water from rocks, or become a man with whom the Lord speaks “face to face, as a man speaks with his friend” (Exodus 33:11).