Tuesday 30th June 2020 – Aaron’s Rod
Exodus 7: 8 – 13
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘When Pharaoh says to you, “Perform a wonder”, then you shall say to Aaron, “Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, and it will become a snake.”’ So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did as the Lord had commanded; Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers; and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same by their secret arts. Each one threw down his staff, and they became snakes; but Aaron’s staff swallowed up theirs. Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
Exodus 7 and the account of the audience with Pharoah is the prelude to the 10 plagues of Egypt and Moses’s commitment to set his people free. He was a man of influence at Pharaoh’s court (Exodus 11.3) but his brother Aaron was the better speaker, and so their 2-pronged campaign began. It was common practice at Pharaoh’s court to look for magic signs and omens to decide policy, and the “stick trick” with snakes (baby crocodiles) was probably standard repertoire. Moses and Aaron win, but the Pharaoh is unimpressed. The plagues follow.
I reflect at a time of plague, Corvid-19. We don’t know whether it’s God’s judgement on our climate abuse or just one of those “acts of God” sent to try us. I worry because I know what the last plague is, and I’m a first-born. I reflect on Aaron: called to be a prophet. I’m humbled by Moses, called to be the voice of God, shouting “set my people free”. I remember the last of the prophets, John Baptist, and his fate at the court of Herod. I kneel before Jesus, the voice of God made flesh. He was sceptical about signs and wonders. When he healed the sick, he told his disciples to keep quiet. Feeding the hungry, he talked about the bread of life which banished spiritual hunger. He was wary of signs and miracles which were the trade of the mountebank and con-man. But when it came to the last plague, the death of the first-born, he offered himself, so that, as the High Priest in the Court of the Sanhedrin inadvertently prophesied, “One man should die for the people”. “Let my people go” said Moses, “No man has greater love than this, that he lays down his life for his friends”, says Jesus.
God give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
The Oxford Book of Prayer