Summary: Aaron recalls an appearance before Pharaoh.
Do you remember your first staff meeting at your present place of employment? Probably not. Staff meetings are usually boring. They’re necessary to keep everyone at the company on track but boring. My first staff meeting, however, was anything but dull. In fact many of you know the details of that meeting even though it happened over three thousand years ago. Perhaps I should introduce myself. My name is Aaron. I am the older brother of Moses – yes, the same Moses who led the children of Israel out of Egypt. Everyone knows about the crossing of the Red Sea when God told my brother to raise his staff before those waters and then God caused them to part. Well that wasn’t the first time that a staff was an important tool in God’s plan of salvation. I had a staff too and God used it in one of our meetings with Pharaoh. That’s what I want tell you about today. I want to relate what I learned about God at my first staff meeting.
Can you believe that I was 83 years old when I attended my first staff meeting? God had told Moses and me to go to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and demand that he let us Israelites leave Egypt and be freed from slavery. It wasn’t the first time we had stood before Pharaoh and made this demand – a demand which angered the king so he chased us out of the palace and made the lives of our countrymen more miserable. We slaves now had to gather our own straw to make the bricks the Egyptians demanded of us. Our people sure weren’t happy with Moses and me for stirring up such trouble!
I was pretty apprehensive then when God told us to go to Pharaoh again - especially when God added: “Pharaoh is going to demand a miracle but even when you perform one, Aaron, he won’t be persuaded to let you Israelites go.” I was to perform a miracle? Yes! God said that I was to throw down my staff and promised it would turn into a snake. Moses’ staff had done that before but never mine. And so I was nervous when we entered the palace again. To Pharaoh I was just some old geezer who had been a slave his whole life and who now wouldn’t leave well enough alone. But here’s one thing that I learned from my first staff meeting. I learned that God delights in using the humble and the unlikely in his service. God could have come down himself and appeared to Pharaoh. Or he could have sent one of his many angels. Instead he used two old guys who up to that point hadn’t done much with their lives.
Pardon me for saying this but you don’t look to be among the movers and shakers of this world either. Most of you probably aren’t the smartest, the funniest, or the fastest in your class. But it’s people like you, ordinary sinners, that God delights in using as his ambassadors. No, he hasn’t called you to stand in front of a pharaoh to demand the release of slaves but he has called you to tell your friends and neighbors that they have been released from the slavery of sin. Does the thought of sharing that news make you nervous? God will go with you, just as he went with me when I stood before Pharaoh. Let me tell you more about that.
As God had prophesied, Pharaoh demanded a miracle when we asked him again to free our people. And so here was something else I learned about God at my first staff meeting: God knows all things. He knows the thoughts and plans of all of his enemies. And he knows your thoughts and your plans too. Nothing is a surprise to him. That’s both comforting and scary isn’t it? Whatever sin you’re planning, he knows about it already and you won’t get away with it. Yet whatever difficulty you might run into like illness, he knows about that too. And so the God of the Bible is someone worth paying attention to! You can ignore him but he won’t ignore you. That was a lesson Pharaoh never learned and he suffered because of it as you’ll hear in a little bit.
When Pharaoh demanded a miracle my brother turned to me and told me to throw down my staff which was supposed to turn into a snake. This was the moment! “But,” a thought flashed through my mind, “what if the staff doesn’t turn into a snake? What if it just clatters across the polished floor of the palace?” What a joke I would have been then. But I wasn’t put to shame. God made good on his promise and my staff turned into a real live hissing snake as soon as it hit the ground.