"What Is That In Your Hand?"

Exodus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:02:11
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Moses has been called to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. What a privilege and yet what a responsibility. Moses made a choice when he was 40 years old to do this very thing rather than be the next pharaoh of Egypt. Then he set out to perform this task his own way and made such a mess of things that he had to flee for his life.
Now God has called him; and God has called him because he is prepared to perform the task. But now Moses does not feel he is capable of doing it.

1. The problem of personal inferiority

First, he said, “Who am I?” This first excuse is the problem of personal inferiority. God answered this excuse with throwing it out. It was not a valid excuse for rejecting the call. The issue was not who Moses is, but who God is. “I will be with you” and this is all you need. The sign that this is a fact will be seen when it is all over-- you shall serve God upon this mountain.

2. The problem with the message

Moses still is not satisfied. His second excuse is the problem with the message: “What shall I say?” “I AM THAT I AM” is the answer. The message concerns the person and work of The Lord. He is a covenant-keeping God and he will keep his word that he has made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The sign that you will see is the fulfillment of all that the Lord predicted to Abraham. This will be fulfilled literally.
This brings us to the third excuse of Moses. This is . . .

3. The problem of the reception.

A. Excuse: “they will not believe me,” 4:1.

Previously in Exodus 3: 18, God said to Moses, “They shall pay heed to what you say.” Moses now says in verse 1, “What if they will not believe me nor listen to what I say?” God tells all that will take place and Moses answers, “But” -- this is not so. This man still has not come to the end of his own way. When he does, he will be a powerhouse.
You see, now between God and himself, Moses is placing all the difficulties and impossibilities. Later he will place God between himself and his difficulties and impossible situations. This simple key is what makes the difference. Where is God in relation to the difficulties and impossibilities? If He is between them and us, everything is fine. If they are between us and Him, we will panic.
The one produces fear; The other, faith.
The one is contending with God; the other is praying and looking to God.
The one is defeat, frustration and misery; the other is victory, elation and glory.
Moses had to learn the secret and so do we. Where God is in relation to your difficulty makes all the difference in the world for you. Take heed to let nothing between you and the Lord.

B. Answer, sign miracles.

The Lord in grace replies to Moses. He treats Moses’s excuse as if it were valid. Moses feels he knows these people and that they will not accept him without adequate credentials. The Lord supplies credentials to Moses in the form of three signs whereby the people may know that the Lord had sent him.

1) Signs, 4:2-9.

Israel is a sign people and it is God that provided these signs for them, and also for Moses. God himself gives the reason for these signs. Signs were to authenticate the person and the message (4:5). Whenever a person was commissioned by God with a new message, signs from the Lord accompanied them. The signs served as persuasive proofs of both the authority of the person and his message. This was why signs accompanied the message of the Lord and of the apostles.
Just as the special need for signs was only for a particular time in Moses's day, so the same is true in the time of the apostles. The sign miracles were in the first-generation of believers only (Hebrews 2:3-4).
Hebrews 2:3–4 NASB95
how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.
Today the Lord still performs miracles in answer to prayer, but these are not to authenticate the message. The message already stands authenticated forever even as Moses stands authenticated forever. It was not necessary for each generation after Moses to authenticate the message of Moses; just so each generation after Christ did not have to authenticate the message. The first generation alone did this.
There are three signs and everything about them is important. Before we look at why three, why these three, and why in this order, let's look at each one separately. Something of the importance of these signs can be grasped if we realize that these are the first authenticating miracles done in the world by God. They set the stage for all that is done later in Scripture. God had worked before in providence, grace and judgment, but now he works in a new way to attest the messenger and his message. The Lord will do the same for the greater than Moses, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Before this, the Lord had translated, or snatched up, Enoch, confused the speech at Babel, smote the Sodomites with blindness and destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah along with turning Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt. Apart from Enoch’s translation, these were miracles of judgment. Now we enter the realm of sign miracles: positive miracles which are designed to convince and attest. Today we will look at the first of the three signs.
a) Rod: “Throw down your staff,”4:2-5.
“What is that in your hand?” It was a shepherd's staff or crook, a long staff with a curved head that varied from 3 to 6 feet in length. Shepherds use them for many things, but primarily for support to lean on as they watched over their sheep.
Moses, realizing that he was a stranger in a foreign country and that this was not in truth his calling or work, may have despised this shepherd staff. Certainly, it is clear that shepherds were despised by the Egyptians. We read these words in Genesis 46:34, “every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians.”
Genesis 46:34 NASB95
you shall say, ‘Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ that you may live in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians.”
The Lord is going to take this despised thing and person to do a work for Him, for he will carry this staff with him into Egypt and before Pharaoh. Once again, we see the correspondence with the Lord Jesus Christ: “He was despised and forsaken of men; A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief… He was despised, and we did not esteem him.” (Isaiah 53:3). It is this despised one that the Lord will use to deliver his people.
Isaiah 53:3 NASB95
He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
“What is that in your hand?” It was something no different from that which any other shepherd used. Just a staff; just a common shepherd’s crook.
“Throw it on the ground.” Moses obeyed, and, as the staff struck the sod, it became no ordinary shepherd’s crook. There was a writhing serpent ready to strike and to destroy. It was dangerous and Moses became fearful and scurried away from it. He didn't like snakes any better than you or I do.
Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail.” Anyone who knows anything about handling snakes know that this is not the way that you take up a snake. You must pick them up right behind the head or else they will strike you. Nevertheless, Moses obeyed the Lord's words exactly as He gave them, and it became a staff in his hand. Now this staff was no ordinary staff; it had been transformed by the miracle-working power of God. God is taking that which is nothing in the eyes of men and turning it into an instrument of power and usefulness.
“What is that in your hand?” It does not need to be something extraordinary, but that insignificant, common thing which man looks upon is of no merit or value whatever. It may be just a cheap ballpoint pen, some old scratch paper, the back of an envelope, or even a napkin, yet the Lord can transform it into something to bless the world.
The greatest poem has not yet been written.
The greatest song has yet to be composed.
The greatest book has not yet been written
nor has the greatest race been run.
“What is that in your hand?” For David it was a sling and five smooth stones. Just a little insignificant nothing yet yielded to God these became the means of blessing to the nation of Israel and glory for the Lord that has continued to this day.
“What is that in your hand?” Andrew said to the Lord, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish is but what are these among so many?” (John 6:9)
John 6:9 NASB95
“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?”
“What are these among so many?” No, this is not the question. This is not the issue. The issue is not how small or insignificant an item it is that is in your hand, but is it given to Christ? It is who He is, not what it is. A little boy's lunch, just enough for the appetite of one youngster was the means of blessing 5,000 men besides women and children and glorifying the Lord from the that time to this.
What is that in your hand, young person? Are you willing to give it all to the Lord to be used only for His glory? If you are, He can take and use it beyond anything you can imagine. It can be the means of glorifying the Lord for time and eternity.
Could it be that there is a young person here today that the Lord is speaking to that has something of little significance or consequence, yet the Lord is saying to you: “What is that in your hand?” It may be something prized to which you want to hold on and say “Mine, all mine,” and you do not want to surrender it to Him. Yes, it is yours, but as long as you have it, it will not really ever bring happiness to you. If you give it to him, you will have it with 1,500,000% interest. It is all up to you. It is in your hands.
There may be a person here today that says, “I'm too old to serve the Lord.” May I remind you that Abraham was 75 years young when the Lord called him, and Moses here is 80 years young at the burning bush. “What is that in your hand?” It may be that God has been preparing you for years to bring you to the place where you would yield that despised thing to Him and allow the Lord to turn it into a thing of blessing and power.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Is He speaking to you today, and asking you to yield something to Him? What is that in your hand? Will you give it to Him? Sometimes it is something despised. Other times it is something cherished. In either case, it is nothing unless it is surrendered to him.
Satan always wants us to feel we are sacrificing terrifically when we give up our own little lunch and have it multiplied 1,500,000%. What a liar; What a deceiver he is. When we really lose is when we keep it just for ourselves.
What is that in your hand? For Dorcas, it was good works in arms deeds which she did (Acts 9:36).
Acts 9:36 NASB95
Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did.
She lived to minister to others. Her money was given to Him and so helped others. God rewarded this one by restoring her to life.
Moses may have thought that it would take the sword to deliver Israel out of Egypt and he hadn't had his sword in his hands for years. He just was unqualified for this service. But the Lord would not have used the sword even if it had been in Moses his hand, but He will use the insignificant, worthless, despised item that in the eyes of men is nothing.
That staff in Moses’s hand was nothing but an old, dead piece of wood. It was of no or little value of any kind. But when that staff was cast down before the Savior’s feet and taken up again at the command of God, that staff has become the greatest power and force in all the world. That staff will redeem Israel from bondage through judgment and deliverance. It will smite the rock and provide the water of life. It will gain the victory over Amalek. That staff is powerful because God is in it. In itself, it is nothing but a dead lifeless branch. Under the hand of God, it becomes mighty to the pulling down the strongholds of the enemy.
The Lord can take, at His command, that which is nothing, and if it is cast before Him, He can empower it to be mightily used in His service for victory over the enemy.
Will you do this with what you have in your life? Whatever it is in your hand, will you cast it before Him and then do what He bids you to do?
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