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Worship Series: Bible Stories
Worship Theme: Aaron’s Staff Becomes a Snake
- CW 508: Gracious Savior, Gentle Shepherd
- Change My Heart, Oh God
- Alleluia! Let Praises Ring
- My Song For Life
- CW 573: Hark! The Voice Of Jesus Crying
- This Do In Remembrance of Me
- CW 510: I Pray You, Dear Lord Jesus
Watch the livestream beginning at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. After the livestream is finished, the video will be available to watch at any time.
Message: Aaron’s Staff Becomes a Snake
Pastor Jake Schram
Moses faced down Pharaoh. Eyes locked. Eyebrows twitching like some sort of wild west showdown. No tumbleweeds rolled in the background, but the moment was so tense that those watching probably could have heard one rolling by. Everyone one waited to see what would happen. But how did we get to this faceoff?
Hundreds of years earlier, one of Israel’s sons, Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery. Eventually, Joseph was sold to the Egyptians. There wasn’t much hope for Joseph as a slave, but God was with him. God allowed Joseph to rise in the ranks of the Egyptians in a very dramatic and suspenseful way. Eventually Joseph was made 2nd in command over all Egypt, which was a powerhouse of a country back in his day. God used Joseph to save many people, including his family, the Israelites. Joseph had his family move to one of the most fertile lands of all of Egypt. The Israelites lived there happily for many years.
Several hundred years later, a pharaoh rose up “to whom Joseph meant nothing.” God had blessed the Israelites/Hebrew people and they became numerous. Pharaoh was afraid of the God’s growing people and Pharoah did what he could to stop them from becoming a threat. He enslaved them all. God had other plans for his people. He groomed a leader for his people from someone named Moses. He encouraged Moses to go and lead his people to freedom. God would give him other people to help him lead, like his brother Aaron. Most importantly, God said he would be with Moses and help him succeed. So after much urging, Moses went to Egypt and confronted the powerful Pharaoh himself. Thus, the facedown began. Moses and his God versus Pharaoh and his gods. 8 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 9 “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.”
Moses and Aaron were ready. They had a miracle in store. Sure enough, Pharaoh asked for a sign and the staff was thrown down and lo and behold a snake. Surely Pharaoh would let the Israelites go now after seeing this miraculous sign. However, rarely are things that easy. Apparently, Pharaoh had some of his own tricks up his sleeve. He summoned his wise men and sorcerers, and they too were able to perform the same signs. Can you imagine being in Moses’s shoes? “Oh no! God did you see that? They can do the same thing! Now, we are in trouble. What do we do now?”
God, of course, was never worried. He never is and always has a plan. Without any words the staff of Aaron swallowed up the other snake-staffs with ease. The display of power was clear. God was mightier than anything Egypt could throw at him. Their authority, their miracles, and fake gods. None of it compared to God.
It was blatantly clear who was the real winner in the faceoff and yet Pharaoh couldn’t see it. He couldn’t accept it. Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said. He trusted in his false gods and in himself rather than see what was right in front of his face. This wouldn’t be the only evidence of God’s power on display for the Egyptians.
If anyone ever doubted the power of God, they simply had to watch. God would unleash 10 plagues upon the Egyptians. Each plague would show his power over an Egyptian god. Water would be turned to blood, Frogs would swarm, gnats would pester, flies would exasperate, livestock would be cut down. The Egyptians would experience excruciating boils, hailstorms would boom announcing the glory of God, locusts would take over, darkness would reign over the skies, and those who set themselves against God’s mercy would find out even the strength of their firstborn could not stand up to the power of God. He would even do the unthinkable by parting the Red Sea and allowing his people to escape between the water on DRY ground. God’s power would not be denied. Pharaoh’s own magicians couldn’t keep up. They had to admit, “This is the finger of God.” All this happened before their eyes. How could Pharaoh possibly doubt?
We still doubt sometimes, don’t we? Now some of us will say we believe in God, but when it comes to actually trusting him, it can be a different story. We think maybe God isn’t powerful enough to handle the things in our own lives. When that job interview or the test comes up, it’s hard to see past it to the other end. It’s hard to know that whatever nerves we have or whatever happens, God’s power will still be on display in our lives. When that divorce happens and you never in a million years thought that things could have gone down the way they did, it’s hard to understand God is still there. When you’ve been diagnosed with something horrific, we might wonder, “Where is this God of ours?” When you lose a pastor at your church, but there is still so much to do, maybe you wonder, “How could God work through this? What could he possibly have in store for us?”
You know, I wonder how Moses felt when he talked to Pharaoh and Pharaoh demanded miracles to be shown. I wonder if instead of the confidence we so often picture Moses with, he faithfully did as God told him to and then wondered if God would follow through on his promises. In a way, Moses was just like us, human. And I know he had his moments of doubt and distrust as well. And yet, God never stopped displaying his power as he worked for the benefit of Moses and his people.
Rest assured God will keep doing the impossible. This is the Lord who made the lame walk and healed disease. This is the Lord who vanquished armies and empires with a Word to his angels. This is the Lord who walked on water and controlled even the wind and the waves. This is the Lord who is perfect and without fault, giving himself up on a cross for us all. This is your Lord. And no matter what anyone thinks, it does not change the facts. Our God is so very powerful that nothing is impossible for him
Going through God's resume as Lord is extremely impressive. All the powerful displays of might he has done. But out of all those lists of miraculous feats, there is one that truly stands out as the most impressive as all. We even see a little bit of it in our text for today. 10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake.” What is a staff? Something probably made of wood and could be used to show authority or to help someone walk. Does a staff move on it’s own? Is it alive? NO! What is a snake? It's not made out of wood, is it? It’s made out of flesh and it is very much alive. This is amazing! Our God has the power to make dead things alive.
In Ezekiel 37, the LORD showed Ezekiel in a vision exactly what he could do. There were these dry bones sitting in a giant pile at the floor of a valley. They were brittle, dry, and completely useless. God turned to Ezekiel and asked him, “Can these bones live?” In his mind, Ezekiel knows the obvious answer is no. There is no way these dry bones can live. But it is God who is asking the question, who makes the impossible possible. So Ezekiel wrestles with the question and comes up with an answer in the middle. “Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”
Then the LORD told Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones. And the bones suddenly came to life. Bones came together. Tendons and flesh appeared on them. Skin formed over them. Breath entered them and they lived. It was just a vision and yet it represented something extremely vital. God could make people live from hearing the Word of God. Now, I don’t mean, you can go over a burial plot, say God’s Word, and expect a loved one to come back to life. Though Jesus has done that and the resurrection on the last day will have that as well. But what God’s Word does now is even better.
The vision to Ezekiel was meant to show people that through the Word of God they would be spiritually alive. The Spirit strengthens faith in us from the hearing of God’s Word. This was a great comfort to Ezekiel because it meant God hadn’t abandoned his people and could make their hard and dead hearts alive once again. This has a huge impact. Think of what this means. It means none of us are out of reach. We are spiritually dead without God, but with his word, we can come alive again. Growing up, I was given the nickname “Deadman.” Seems kind of odd when you don’t know the context. It was actually a compliment. Long story short, the reason I was given that name was because of my ability to keep going. Basically, they were saying death couldn’t stop me. In the context of our message for today, the nickname takes on a whole new meaning. See, I didn’t really know God all my life. I didn’t really care. I was literally a dead man walking. But reading the Bible in high school and beyond filled me with his Word. The Holy Spirit made me alive in Christ. I’m not the only one.
In fact, he’s made so many of us alive. Whether it was through the Word at baptism or hearing of Jesus’ saving us from your parents or a friend, or learning the Word at church or at school, God has made us who were spiritually dead to be spiritually alive. There are days when you are going to feel dead. There will be days you mourn for those who don’t believe in the saving message of Jesus. They could be your friends, maybe even your children. Those are days we need to bathe ourselves in the Word of God. To see firsthand how God was able to change the spiritually dead into the spiritually living. We are living proof.
There are cheap imitations out there of God’s Word. The devil tries to convince you he can bring you satisfying life as well. But just like the snakes of Pharaoh’s magicians, they get swallowed up by God’s power. They pale in comparison to the joy and spiritual life God gives through his Word. He alone has the power to transform your hearts into something else, something that swallows the sin up. That devours the sins and takes them away forever where they can’t hurt you. God is so very powerful. Only he could save us by sending his Son to die on cross. Only he could show his miraculous power in our lives day after day. Our God is so powerful that he even works in our hearts. He works through his Word and makes us spiritually alive. Amen.