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Why did God tell Moses to pick up the snake by the tail in Exodus 4:3?
Thank you for your biblical question about Moses and the staff.
The story of Moses being instructed by God to throw his staff down, turning it into a serpent (or snake), is from Moses' calling, which starts in Exodus 3. Moses sees a bush on fire, but the bush is not being consumed by the fire. God tells Moses that he is His servant and will be used to set God's people free.
Much like today, if we felt that God was speaking to us, we would ask for evidence. The passage of Exodus 4 shows us some of the signs that God gave to Moses to show His authority and that God would be with Moses.
The first of the three signs that God gives to Moses is turning his staff into a serpent. We can see his surprise because "Moses ran from it"! (Exodus 4:3). It was a real snake, not an illusion, and Moses knew that if he was bitten by a snake he could die.
This is why God then told Moses to pick up the snake by the tail. Even today, a snake catcher will hold a snake just below its head. If you hold a snake anywhere else, it'll try and bite you! With God telling Moses to hold the serpent by the tail, it required faith from Moses that God was in control.
The man who ran from the snake would have to walk up to it and pick it up in a way that could result in his death; Moses had to trust that God was in control, otherwise he'd die!
Through the staff being turned into a snake, God showed His power and authority to Moses. This power was then shown to Pharaoh in Exodus 7:8-12, where Aaron's staff was thrown down and became a snake. However, even after Aaron's snake ate the snakes of the magicians, we read that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said (Exodus 7:13).
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). God showed His power to Moses through miracles such as turning the staff into a snake. However, God has now shown us His power through His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus came to earth, lived the perfect life we could not live and died on the cross for our sin. He then rose from the dead to show His power and authority over death.
Have you placed your trust in Jesus Christ to save you? He loves you and died for you, that you may have a personal relationship with God. I encourage you to pray to God today, that you would know the power of God in your life; not through turning a staff into a snake, but through knowing your sins are forgiven and you have a relationship with God.
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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise
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