It was Jesus Himself who gave Paul his special commission when He told Paul on the Damascus road that He would send him to the Gentiles “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:18). One of the most telling parables of this transition from the power of Satan to the power of God is found in Exodus 4.
Moses had had his burning bush experience where God demonstrated how He lives in common bushes which are set ablaze by His fire – the union reality. Evidently this seemed so out of the ordinary to Moses and demanded such a leap of faith that he asked God for further assurance which would prove that it somehow was God who now lived in Him. God thus asked Moses what was in his hand. Moses said, “A rod.” Then the record says: “And God said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it.”
The rod symbolizes our self and our humanity which we carry with us wherever we go. Infected by the serpent it became a wrong self – a polluted humanity. Deceived and helpless we couldn’t accomplish an iota in altering our predicament. What we could not do God accomplished at the cross through Jesus Christ. Moses had no inkling that a usurper had contaminated his self until God revealed this to him.
Then God asked Moses to pick up the serpent by the tail and it became a rod in his hand. It was the same rod, the same old Moses, but now a liberated Moses. Through their encounter at the mountain of Horeb – the mountain of God – God by His grace revealed to Moses two most startling truths. Firstly, they were in a union where God lived in Moses and that it was His fire which burned in Moses’ own heart. Secondly, when the serpent was cast out Moses humanity was a right humanity.
If we continue reading in Exodus 4 we discover that Moses, like most of us, found it most difficult to embrace these truths. When God commissioned Moses to go to his people and liberate them from their harsh taskmaster Moses faltered and was more preoccupied with his own shortcomings than God’s outworking power in, through and as him.
We are all commissioned in the same capacity as Paul and Moses to open people’s eyes, to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to the Power of God using the unique gifts assigned to each and every one of us. It is with great boldness we can do so on account of the startling facts God revealed to Moses. In Christ our humanity is restored and therefore is a right humanity, and in addition God lives in us with everything that entails. Paul put it like this: “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Col 1:29 ESV).