The staff is a potent symbol in the pages of sacred Scripture, and in it we can see reflections of the Savior.
When Jacob crossed the Jordan, he did so with only his staff in his hand—the symbol of an impoverished wanderer. And though God later blessed him and made him wealthy, and it was this same staff that he leaned on to bless his progeny before his demise.
By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.Heb. 11:21
Moses likewise was a destitute shepherd with a staff in his hand when he first met with God. After its transformation into a serpent and back again, however, this simple branch of wood became known as the Staff of God:
And Moses took the staff of God in his hand.Ex. 4:20
This same staff was stretched out to summon plagues upon Egypt. It was held aloft to part the Red Sea; it struck the rock and brought forth water; it was raised up in battle to ensure victory over the Amalekites. Moses was God’s servant, and his staff became a symbol of the unlimited power and divine authority of the Holy One.
Aaron’s staff likewise became a serpent and consumed the staves of the magicians of Egypt. It was stretched out to summon plagues and devastations on God’s recalcitrant enemies. And when there was division among the elders of Israel, it was Aaron’s staff that budded as divine validation of the priesthood:
On the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony, and behold, the staff of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.Num. 17:8
Surely God’s people, having been given these great and miraculous signs, should respect His authority and lean on His almighty power for support! And yet, we have been rebellious and stiff-necked, choosing instead to rely on human aid and intervention:
Behold, you are trusting now in Egypt, that broken reed of a staff, which will pierce the hand of any man who leans on it. Such is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him.Is. 36:6
Not only do we trust in ourselves and lean on our own understanding, but our idolatrous passions cause us to depend on the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world:
My people inquire of a piece of wood, and their walking staff gives them oracles.Hos. 4:12
Accordingly, all of us have fallen underneath the weight of our sin, and no earthly support can raise us up from such a collapse. Indeed, God Himself has taken away any hope of any such recovery for those whose trust is in themselves:
The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked.Is. 14:4
There was, however, another wanderer upon the face of the earth who had no earthly staff on which to lean on. His journey was wearisome and full of sorrow; He was forced to flee from place to place; He had no place to lay his head. And yet, He leaned completely on His God, even to the point of death on a cross:
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.Psa. 23:4
This Jesus was thus provided by God to be our staff. The very reed that was despised and rejected by men has now become the One on whom we lean for support and comfort. He was bruised and broken in our place so that all who trust in Him would be bound up and gently restored:
A bruised reed he will not break.Is. 42:3
And yet, He is no longer a destitute wanderer, but the supreme King of creation who is seated at God’s right hand. He is the true staff of God, the one in whom all divine power and majesty resides. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him, and it shall be His forever and ever!
Lord, thank you that you are the true Staff of God, the One on whom your people will depend and trust forever. Thank you that through Your brokenness you have bestowed upon us an unbreakable love that will never shatter beneath the weight of even our most grievous sins. To You be dominion and rule and authority forever, and may Your people render to You the obedient love that You deserve!
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.Gen. 49:10