Then the Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?”

Exodus 4:2 (NIV, 1978)

In a recent chapel message, I reminded our students at Adult & Teen Challenge that if they ever sense the Holy Spirit questioning them about an action, a word, a motive, an attitude or absolutely anything else, to always remember that He is not trying to obtain information that He does not already have. In fact, I once heard it asked, “Has it ever occurred to you that nothing EVER occurs to God?” That was an impactful way to convey a universal truth—God knows everything! So, what’s behind God’s inquiries we find throughout Scripture?

God was fully aware of Adam’s whereabouts in the Garden of Eden. Yet it was necessary for Him to ask Adam where he was in order that he might understand something greater—his true spiritual condition. Moses stood before a burning bush receiving the mandate from God to return to Egypt and lead the Hebrew slaves to their freedom in the “promised land.” As he stood before God Himself, Moses wasted this holy moment recounting all the reasons he should not be the person chosen to deliver his own people. It is here that God asks Moses to consider what is in his hand.

Moses was not created to be a shepherd. Divinely protected from the government’s attempt to murder all male Hebrew infants, Moses not only survived, but was miraculously raised in the palace of Pharoah himself. Later, his burden for his people led him to kill an Egyptian overseer who was beating a Hebrew slave. His flight from Egypt to avoid punishment eventually landed him on the “back side of nowhere” with a herd of sheep, talking to burning bush, claiming that he could not do anything for God due personal inadequacies all rooted in nothing but fear. 

A staff in the hand of a shepherd can rescue a lamb or defend the shepherd himself in event of an attack. But, that same staff in the hand of the one who became wholly surrendered to God was able to lead tens of thousands to freedom. When God asks me “What is that in your hand” that stands in the way of my destiny, He doesn’t really need to know—I do.