Moses’s story is very familiar to many of us, how as a baby he was put in a basket on a crocodile infested river, rescued by the Pharaoh’s daughter and raised in the palace.
His Egyptian upbringing taught him about royal protocols and culture. He was deeply upset when he witnessed injustice to a Hebrew, one of his own people. His anger resulted in the death of the Egyptian oppressor, having to flee for his life, and finding refuge in the desert. He spent the next forty years herding his father-in-law’s sheep. It seemed that his privileged background was wasted.
While in the desert, he learned how to survive and lead a flock in a hostile environment. It was at that point in his life that God called him from a bush that was on fire but not burning up. In holy fear and awe, he removed his sandals and hid his face. God then told him the entire plan to liberate the Israelites from their cruel bondage in Egypt.
Moses was hesitant asking, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” After further instructions, and fearful excuses, God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?” and Moses replied, “a rod”. God then demonstrated His power and told him to throw it on the ground. When Moses did the shepherd’s rod became a snake, then turned back into a rod when he picked it up by the tail as God instructed. This would be the first of many signs to demonstrate that Moses had the authority to represent Go
Returning to Egypt required facing his history of murder and its potential consequences. It would have taken much courage.
He would also return as a shepherd with a rod, the mark of his occupation. In Genesis 46:34 Joseph advises his brothers to tell Pharaoh that they are shepherds because “every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians”, thus allowing them to settle in the land of Goshen with their flocks and herds.
Moses was returning to the palace as a lowly shepherd, one who would be abhorrent to the Egyptians. It is understandable that he didn’t want to do it. He had to truly humble himself when at last he acted in obedience to God’s directions. Moses is described as very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth. It was a great advantage to him for the next forty years as he lead the Israelites through the wilderness, because it made him completely reliant on God. Interestingly, most of the miracles involved his shepherd’s rod.
Like Moses in the desert, when we find ourselves in a place that we never anticipated with a history of failure and humiliation, perhaps that is the right time for God to ask, “What is in your hand?”. He can use our greatest disappointment and embarrassment to His advantage in ways we never could have imagined.
Humility is one of the most essential characteristics of a leader. When obedience is placed before reputation, God can trust us to do great things as we journey with the great I AM.
Photo by Steven Lasry on Unsplash