With the gifts of the Spirit, God can turn our weaknesses into strengths. However, if we rely on our natural strengths, they can become a liability.

In this study I will illustrate this with the example of the prophet Moses.

Moses: his strength, the staff, and the serpent.

God told Moses to confront Pharaoh.

"Then Moses said. 'What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, 'The Lord has not appeared to you.'" The LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" And he said, "A staff." Then He said, "Throw it on the ground." So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it." Exodus 4:1-3

The staff in question would have been his shepherds rod. It would have been a familiar part of his equipment - one of his strengths. He had relied on it for 40 years - guiding, rescuing and tending to his sheep. It protected him and his flock from the snakes he encountered in the wilderness. The poisonous ones, especially cobras, were deadly and to be feared.
When his staff turned into a serpent, that which once protected him was now attacking him, and he fled.

"But the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail" so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand." Exodus 4:4

Moses would have known that the only safe way to pick up a deadly snake was just behind its head. Picking it up by the tail allows it to turn and strike.

Be careful how you handle power it can turn and bite you!

As his staff now begins to be used as an instrument of spiritual rather than natural authority, God appears to be giving him a warning - be careful how you handle the power given to you, it can turn and bite you if handled badly!

The weakness of Moses - being slow of speech and slow of tongue

One of the weaknesses that Moses faced was related to his ability to speak.

"Then Moses said to the LORD, 'Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.'" Exodus 4:10

The issue here does not appear to be a speech impediment, but a feeling of lack of confidence in his ability to respond quickly enough to Pharaoh. Initially, Aaron was used to speak on Moses' behalf until he became confident enough to speak on his own. Exodus 8:9

The staffs of Moses and Aaron were used powerfully throughout the plagues leading to the freeing from Egypt. This culminated in Moses using his staff to part the sea and achieve their final escape from Egypt.

Exodus 14:16 "As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land."

The staff held up allowed victory against Amalek

Later, in the wilderness, Moses held up his staff, thereby releasing the power of God to enable them to defeat Amalek.

"Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, 'Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.'" Ex 17:8-9

Strike the rock! The staff used to provide water.

At the mountain of God, the people were thirsty and complaining so much that Moses was in fear they would stone him. God rescuses him by telling him to strike the rock to cause water to flow.

"Then the LORD said to Moses, 'Pass before the people and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile and go. Behold I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.' And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel." Exodus 17:6-7

The Hebrew word for strike used here refers to a killing blow.

Speak to the rock - the need to learn to change

After many years in the wilderness the people came to Meribah Kadesh and again lacked water and so they again complained and started to rebel.

"Why then have you brought the LORD'S assembly into this wilderness, for us and our beasts to die here?" Numbers 20:4

"The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink."" Numbers 20:8

Now, Moses is challenged to confront his longstanding area of weakness - his lack of confidence to speak out. God also instructs him to take the staff which he had previously relied on.

"Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank. But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 'Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.'" Numbers 20:11-12

However, Moses reverts to old ways and strikes the rock instead of speaking to it. The fact that he had to strike the rock twice before water flowed would have spoken to Moses immediately that he had disobeyed. His failure to speak when God told him to resulted in him being unable to lead the people into the promised land!

What did the rock represent to Moses and the Old Testament?

When Moses asked God to show him his glory, the LORD placed him into the rock.

"Then the LORD said, 'Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.'" Exodus 33:21-22

From the song of Moses at his death.

"Ascribe greatness to our God! The rock! His work is perfect for all His ways are just." Deuteronomy 32:3-4

Why was it important to speak to the rock?

When the people entered the promised land, the first victory they had, at Jericho, involved the need for speech to be their main weapon. Moses was asked to demonstrate this in front of the congregation to show them how this was done. It was to be shouting the praises of God by all the people, not a show of strength by one, that would make the walls came down. When Moses failed to lead the way in this at the rock, he was disqualified from leading them into the land.

"It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat." Joshua 6:5

"O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD, let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation." Psalm 95:1

When you complain about your problems you give them permission to grow in the spirit. When you joyfully declare scriptural truth over them, they collapse.

Is there a wall in your life that needs to come down? Try shouting for joy to the rock of your salvation over it.

The rock in the Old Testament was Christ

"And all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ." 1 Cor 10:4

What Paul seems to be saying here is that Moses was hidden in Christ when God passed by with his glory. Christ was also the rock that was struck by a killer blow for water to come flowing out. After that killer blow, speaking to the rock was all that was required.

Click here for how the gods of Egypt were defeated by the plagues
The secret of moving in the power of God
The word of knowledge
Speaking in tongues