September 5, 2021
"Then all the inhabitants of Egypt will know that I am the Lord, for they have been a staff made of reed to the house of Israel."
“Then all the inhabitants of Egypt will know that I am the Lord, for they have been a staff made of reed to the house of Israel. When Israel grasped you by the hand, you splintered, tearing all their shoulders; when they leaned on you, you shattered and made all their hips unsteady.” Ezekiel 29:6-7
Throughout the Bible, the observant reader will notice the image of the “staff” recurring. Moses had a miracle staff, but only after God changed it to be so. (Ex 4:2) The night before he was to be reunited with his brother Esau, that “heel-catching” deceiver, Jacob, said, “I have crossed-over with my staff and behold: I have become two camps” (Genesis 32:1-2). Judah gave his staff as a down payment for having sex with his daughter-in-law-feigned-prostitute, Tamar. (Genesis 38:1-26) Many people remember David’s slingshot, but how many recall that he also took his staff to fight Goliath? (1 Samuel 17:40)
So, what is a staff, and what does it represent in Scripture? The “staff” is symbolic of what a person relies on to get through life. It is important to recognize that the culture of ancient Bible times was mostly nomadic, and the Middle East is a very rocky and dangerous place. Recall, how for 40 years, the entire nation of Israel wandered throughout such wilderness? In short, the staff is the support system for the journey.
Even people who have been on a short hike know the importance of a good walking stick. The staff is something to lean on if you are tired; it is a means of defense in times of trouble; when secured to a tarp of canvas, it helps provide simple shelter; and, of course, depending on the craftsmanship & detailing, it can be a symbol of status. Again, the “staff” is emblematic of how one “does life.” Perhaps, this insight helps us better appreciate the familiar passage:
“Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
If there were ever a time for Israel to reflect on Psalm 23, it was when they were deciding whether to trust in the “perceived” glory & power of Egypt instead of faithfully seeking the “actual” power & glory of the Invisible God. (Colossians 1:10-17) Sadly, trusting God would not be Israel’s choice. Egypt was to go down hard, by the hand of the Babylonians, and Israel was soon to follow. All, for choosing the wrong “staff.”
Some believe our present national woes will be solved politically, financially, or militarily. But the Bible is clear to point out that our only hope is in living God’s way. And that means adopting His ways, choosing His “staff.” If we would simply separate ourselves from our ways, God will reveal those ways to be sin. He did this for Moses. Moses’ staff became the symbol of sin, the snake. You may think God’s ways will bite you like a snake! Moses did, but when he faithfully humbled himself, bending down to lift up God’s staff, the Lord began using him in a mighty way.
“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the Name of the Lord our God” Psalm 20:7