What is that in your hand? ∙

What is that in your hand?

The LORD said to him, “What is that in your hand?” – Exodus 4:2

Philippians 1:12-14

 12 Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.

 13 For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ.

 14 And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.

In today’s media-dominated world, tragic events have become a regular part of our daily experience. It’s no longer a question of whether we will encounter personal tragedy but rather when it will happen. Regrettably, the sad reality of human existence in an imperfect world means that tragedies are ongoing. Recognizing the inevitability of tragedy, the challenge becomes preventing tragedy and trauma from defining our lives.

Dealing with the emotions of loss, pain, and confusion with grace is no easy task. A devastating injury or receiving news of a terminal illness can be incredibly traumatic. Often, we find ourselves longing to escape or numb the pain, hoping that it will somehow disappear on its own.

There has got to be a better way. As children of the King, we can invite the Father into our wounded spaces and find comfort, counsel, and restoration.

It begins with the recognition that the Father is in control of circumstances.

The Father has a delightful way of turning negatives into positives. The Father regards tragedy in light of the final outcome it accomplishes. He uses it to achieve His purpose in our lives and through our lives to others. He loves to take things that Satan means for our harm and use them instead for His glory and our benefit (Stanley).

Paul’s circumstances were planned and executed by a sovereign God. The Father was in control. His work in and through Paul, rather than coming to a halt, achieved His desired purpose.

Philippians 1:12 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that my situation has actually turned out to advance the gospel.

The term advance translates the Greek term prokopen. Prokopen was used to describe blazing a trail before an army. It is from the verb prokoptein, which means to cut down in advance. “The verb which is used for cutting away the trees and the undergrowth, and removing the barriers which would hinder the progress of an army” (Barclay). In the New Testament, it is used only figuratively for progress, advancement, or furtherance.

Paul’s unwavering joy and enthusiasm were contagious, inspiring fellow children of the King to boldly proclaim the message of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul’s imprisonment did not halt his endeavors or impede his forward momentum. On the contrary, it became a catalyst for the Father’s mission to flourish. It presented Paul with fresh avenues to spread the gospel. As a result, many others entered into the Father’s Forever Family. The rest is history.


The Father is always at work. He arranges and uses the circumstances of life to accomplish His purposes.

Father help me view my circumstances as You do. You are welcome in my wounded places.


Consider Moses. When the Father meets Moses at the burning bush, He calls out to him. Moses responds, “Here am I.” The Father then introduces himself to Moses.

Exodus 3:4-6

 4 “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied.

 6 “I am the God of your father – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.

After the brief introduction, the Father tells Moses His plan. He has chosen Moses for an extraordinary task. Moses is overwhelmed with the Father’s plan and objects. He feels inadequate. He tells the Father that he is not up to the task.

Exodus 3:10-11

 10 “Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”

 11 But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?”

It is easy to perceive Moses’ questioning of the Father’s judgment and plan as audacious. However, the Father remains unfazed when the children of the King raise objections. He already knows the answers beforehand. Initially, He reassures Moses, urging him not to worry. He will be with him (Exodus 3:12). But for Moses, even the Father’s presence is not enough to allay his fears and concerns.

Exodus 4:1-5

 1 But Moses protested again, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The LORD never appeared to you’?”

 2 Then the LORD asked him, “What is that in your hand?” “A shepherd’s staff,” Moses replied.

 3 “Throw it down on the ground,” the LORD told him. So Moses threw down the staff, and it turned into a snake! Moses jumped back.

 4 Then the LORD told him, “Reach out and grab its tail.” So Moses reached out and grabbed it, and it turned back into a shepherd’s staff in his hand.

 5 “Perform this sign,” the LORD told him. “Then they will believe that the LORD, the God of their ancestors – the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob– really has appeared to you.”

Moses had a simple, ordinary shepherd’s staff. The Father miraculously transformed it into a living, squirming snake right before his eyes. Moses was put off and frightened. He had never seen anything quite like this before.

This was no magic sleight-of-hand illusion like the Egyptian magicians performed. They had a magic snake trick. When they grabbed a serpent by the head just the right way, it would become trance-like and rigid (ZIBBC). Then they would walk with them like they were scepters or walking sticks. Whenever they wanted to perform the trick, they let go of the snake and dropped it to the ground. No longer stunned and paralyzed, it slithered about. When the priests wanted to retrieve the snake, they would pick it up by the head, not the tail, to avoid being bitten. They would then employ their “magic” grip to stun it and make it rigid again.

Notice that the text is quite specific. When Moses is told to grab the snake, the Father tells him to pick it up by its tail. Immediately it turned back into a shepherd’s staff.

The transformation of a shepherd’s staff into a snake and then back again into a staff was a miracle, a sign of authentic divine power. It served a purpose akin to a business card, establishing Moses’ authoritative position. It gave Moses the credentials to stand boldly before the unbelieving Hebrews and Egyptians and fearlessly proclaim the Father’s message.

“The same God who used Moses’ rod, Gideon’s pitchers, and David’s sling used Paul’s chains” (Wiersbe).

¯\_()_/¯ 3-10-1

© Dr. H 2023

2 thoughts on “What is that in your hand? ∙

  1. Yes !!! to this…had to go back today and read ..…especially this…
    ” It begins with the recognition that the Father is in control of circumstances” and especially this in your prayer….”
    Help me in my wounded places”….
    Oh how Abba Father had certainly helped me!!!
    Isa 40:28-31 in The Passion Translation especially verse 31… “but those who entwine their hearts with Yahweh will experience divine strength. They will rise up on soaring wings, and fly like eagles, run their race without growing weary, and walk through life without giving up”!
    Keep on keeping on Dr H with Reflections!


  2. A beautiful and magnificent forward picture: entwine their hearts with Yahweh.

    Wow we can entwine our hearts with His.

    Better than simply loving him. We can get all wrapped up in Him, and He with us.


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