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December 14, 2018

47. The Deliverer’s Staff

There exists a staff, a rod. A walking staff of great legend and appeal. The staff of the Deliverer, Moses of Egypt. The holy relic is still out there, hidden in the sands of the desert, buried in a Bedouin empire, blessed by God and lost and forgotten by its owner.

And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And the Lord said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: … And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.

Countless centuries, millennia later, a man sought it out. What drew him but the thought of nearly touching hands with the man of God that delivered a nation into the Promised Land, holding the same walking stick as the man that produced so many miracles of God.

And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was.

The nomad walked endlessly along a nondescript path. After his sandals became dusty and crusted with countless days in the orange sun a gray fog rolled across the desert. An unusual and unnerving fog that did not belong is this terrain with this dry and arid climate. Still he walked, unable to see his feet or shins. His eyes found focus in the distance: a shape, a golden glimmer that wavered in the blur of the heat. A rock stumbled his foot but he walked unshaken in the dense and mysterious fog toward the thing in the distance.

And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.  Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a [staff]: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a [staff], and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

The man glanced down and back to trace his steps only to see he walked on an island. Several paces behind him was a cliff, a vertical drop. Somehow—by magic or divination—he had passed from one land into another. The fog had concealed his steps to even him as he was now in a new and different time.

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

A trickle of a brook gave way through the thinning fog. Now the wanderer could see his feet and the ground—and a sudden little stream. A rare and telling omen that only served to inspire and push the man onward. The fog was almost completely cleared as he followed the water.

And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.

The water led the man to his holy item. Here in this dreamland of a desert with eerie fog and odd cliffs of nowhere was a staff, erect and pure, lodged in a rock—the source of the water and perhaps all of the mystery around.

And the Lord said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

The man dropped to his knees at the sight of the staff and fell forward. Face down he landed and dust and red dirt ballooned around him.

Passages in italic are taken from the King James Version books of Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.