We Are Simply a Staff

Yael Eckstein  |  August 22, 2023

Pharaoh Cobra Headdress | Be a Staff, Not a Snake, Exodus 7:9
Engraving by Gustave Dore (1832 – 1883)

“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.” — Exodus 7:9

Miracles are central to both the Jewish and Christian faiths, and both biblical narratives are replete with miracles. Enjoy this collection of devotional teachings on the nature of God’s awe-inspiring signs and wonders.

Today, human beings can accomplish things previously unimaginable through science, technology, and medicine. We can cure deadly diseases, send man to the moon, turn the sun into energy, and print 3D objects.

On a more basic level, we buy our food from supermarkets, turn on lights with a flick of a switch, and get from one side of the world to another in a matter of hours. If man can make such miracles, what do we need God for?

While our abilities have certainly increased throughout history, this dangerous thought pattern has existed for thousands of years.

We Are Simply a Staff

The story of the Exodus from Egypt is full of God’s miracles. In God’s first show of power, He commanded Moses to tell Aaron to turn a staff into a snake. However, when Aaron carried out this act, Pharaoh called upon his magicians to do the exact same thing. In fact, according to Jewish tradition, any child in Egypt could perform the old “stick to snake trick.” With His infinite abilities, why didn’t God start with something more impressive?

The Jewish sages explain that this miracle was meant to send a poignant message about the power of man and God. In ancient Egypt, snakes were the main symbol of royalty and deity. After Pharaoh’s magicians replicated this miracle, Aaron’s snake swallowed up Pharaoh’s snakes, showing that while Pharaoh’s tricks may seem impressive, only the acts of God will last forever.

At the end of the story, Aaron’s snake turns back into a staff, this time sending a message to the children of Israel. Man is not God; we are simply a staff—a tool in His hand. No matter how impressive today’s achievements may appear, we cannot be fooled by modern magic. We have only been able to create such incredible miracles because God endowed us with wisdom and enabled our success.

Your Turn:

The next time you enjoy a modern miracle or experience success, remember to thank God, the One True Miracle-Maker.