Intercession Intervention Reflection

The Staff of God

© Rev. Bill Versteeg, October 2008



I pray best walking.  And so with walking stick and dog, I have my best times with God.  These journeys got me to thinking about walking, prayer, and walking sticks...  In Genesis 4, we read

Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?”
2 Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”
“A staff,” he replied.
3 The Lord said, “Throw it on the ground.”
Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. 4 Then the Lord said to him, “Reach 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. 5 “This,” said the Lord, “is so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you.”

    God gave to Moses a monstrous commission - ‘deliver Israel out of the land of Egypt.  Moses, being only human, felt ill equipped for the task.
    "What is that in your hand?" God asked.
    "A staff," Moses replied.  Just a walking stick to help him deal with the uneven journey of life. He saw no special significance in it.
    “Throw it down!” God said.
    And then God demonstrated to him the miraculous potential in that seemingly insignificant staff.  Moses actually fled in terror from his own walking stick!  But when instructed to pick up the snake by the tail, once again, it returned into a staff in his own hand. Something simple and common, turned into a powerful and authoritative tool, and then back to something simple and common. When God finished showing to Moses that his staff was an instrument of divine power and authority, it was all he needed to fulfill his task. With that rod Moses defeated the magicians of Egypt, stripped Pharaoh of his power, humiliated Egypt's gods and brought Israel out from slavery to freedom on the edge of the promised land.

    How we, like Moses, treat prayer as common, insignificant, simply a walking stick to help us through the uneven journey of life! But it is so much more.
    In the hands Commanders and prophets the walking stick was called a staff.  In the hands of rulers and kings, the staff was called a scepter.  Their staffs or scepters symbolized power.
    David who wrote “your rod and your staff they comfort me” knew the effectiveness of the instrument.  And when he went to challenge Goliath, all he took was a sling and 5 smooth stones, and his staff. (1 Samuel 17:40) If you remember the story, before the name of the Lord, Goliath was so insignificant that the stones were enough.  He did not have to use his staff.
    Elisha regarded his staff as powerful enough to deliver a child from death in Gehazi’s hand (II Kings 4:29).
    Where God delivers, the power of the enemy is broken, symbolized repeatedly by the enemy's broken staff (Jeremiah 48:17, II Kings 18:21, Ezekiel 29:6, Isaiah 14:5).
    The "staff or rod of God" is pictured throughout scripture as the power and authority of God to judge and discipline the nations (Job 9:32, 21:9, Lamentations 3:1, Micah 6:9).
    Jesus, before his crucifixion was given a staff, symbolizing his power and authority.  Then Pilate’s soldiers took it from him and beat him with it, symbolizing that his staff was powerless (Matthew 27:29).
    But then they gave Jesus the big stick.  He carried it as he walked and they hung him on it in that horrid place called “The Skull.”  That cross became a wooden staff in his hand and Jesus' cross was the staff of God to destroy the works of the evil one. "And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross" (Colossians 2:15).

I wonder sometimes about the North American church and its apparent powerlessness in confronting the spirits of the age in our culture, its powerlessness in standing its ground against the world that shapes so many of our values, the flesh that repeatedly discredits our leaders and the devil who freely romps through the fields devouring the weak and injured.  I wonder if we are just treating prayer like a walking stick, just a common insignificant stick to help us hobble through the journey of life.

Jesus told us to ask whatever in his name and it would be done for us.  And then after his resurrection, he reminded his disciples that all authority and power is his.  “Go therefore into the world...”

In Acts 4 it is clear that the disciples got the point.   Following their arrest and trial in front of the priests and the captain of the temple who threatened them and then gave the command to Peter and John “not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus,” they were released and they went back to the Christian community to pray.

They prayed “Sovereign Lord.”  How anemic our translation is.  The Greek for Sovereign Lord is the Greek word despotaes.  Now we get our English word Despot from that word - a despot is a ruler with absolute power to use that power in any way that he should choose, like a tyrant who can wield power even oppressively if he wishes.

When they used the title “Sovereign Lord” or “Dear Despot,” they used it in that very sense of a Despot.  Right after using that title they quote the first verses of Psalm 2, (clearly they had the entire psalm in mind.)
“ ‘Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together
against the Lord
and against his Anointed One"

Psalm 2 goes on to say
"The One enthroned in heaven laughs;
the Lord scoffs at them.
5 Then he rebukes them in his anger
and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
6 “I have installed my King  
on Zion, my holy hill.”
 You will rule them with an iron scepter  ;
you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
 Therefore, you kings, be wise;
be warned, you rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry
and you be destroyed in your way,
for his wrath can flare up in a moment.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him."

“Dear Despot”...
They threw the stick down...
The Place was shaken and the were empowered to speak the word of God boldly.

Its time to change our perception of prayer from something common to something extraordinary, from a simple walking stick to help us hobble through the slippery declines of life to the world changing, culture changing, life changing powerful tool in our hands to use in the service of the kingdom of God.

May we, like Moses, be surprised, even terrified at times, by the power of  prayer in Jesus name, the God given staff  in our hands!

Paul prays in Ephesians 1
8 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.


*These first two paragraphs based on an Internet article by Derek Prince on intercession entitled "Proclaim! Thank! Praise!" available in the Newsletter archives of www.ifa-usapray.org

(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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