The Staff of Authority
By Pastor Tony Butler
One of the most powerful truths in the bible is the identity of the believer with God and the authority that comes with that identity. In Ex. 17:1-16 we see a people who needed refreshing from God but identified more with Moses to meet the need. They accused Moses of taking them into the desert to die of thirst and spoke of stoning him. However, the God of grace, who had brought them to where they were, did so to teach them who they were as the people of God. He was going to teach their hands to war, and teach them to stand in the authority of their identity as His chosen people. Moses had already learned the lesson personally but Israel had a long way to go.
When God sent the water to refresh Israel at Rephidim, the Amalekites showed up to war against them. The Amalekites are a picture of the principalities and powers that Christians wrestle against from generation to generation. It seems that every time God sends fresh water to his people to bless them, the enemy of our souls attacks us declaring we can’t have that water. He attacks us with the arrows of doubt, fear, and discouragement.
However, Moses stood in the gap fully identified in the life and authority of God Almighty. At one time he identified himself as a prince of Egypt. In his exile he then identified himself as a simple shepherd. Both were identifying in the flesh. When God called Moses to go to Egypt to deliver Israel from bondage, He asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?” It was a shepherd’s staff. He told Moses to throw it down and it turned into a poisonous snake. If we identify in anything of the flesh it is venomous. God has told us to lay our lives down. He wants us to see that there is nothing good about our fleshly natures. God is only pleased in the life of His Son and would have us to identify solely in Him.
Moses very carefully picked up the viper by the tail and it turned back into a staff. Only this time it was no longer the staff of a shepherd, it was the staff of God! Once we see the filthiness and danger of identifying in the flesh, whether it be a lofty identification of a prince, or a lowly identification of a shepherd, we must be careful not to take up our lives again and to live them out by our own abilities. We live and stand in the life and authority of the risen Christ.
When the staff of God was raised in the hands of Moses, Israel prevailed over the Amalekites. The staff of God has been vested into the hands of every believer to bring down the strongholds of Satan and to defeat him in every attack. What is your identity? Is it in a title, or a career, or anything other than Jesus. God wants to train your hands to war against the enemy, but before you will ever be effective you must lay down the staff of your fleshly life and pick it up again, but only as the staff of God. Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” Satan isn’t afraid of our identity in the flesh which has no power. But Satan is terrified when God’s people face him identified in Christ, the true “Staff of God!”