Exodus 4:3, Serpent. Serpents and staffs were powerful symbols and metaphors for spiritual realities. What lessons can we learn from Moses’ power encounter with Pharaoh’s magicians?
A serpent is often a biblical metaphor for Satan or demonic powers (e.g. Gen 3:1; Luke 10:19 cp. 9:1 and Mark 16:18; Rev 12:9; 20:2). Pharaoh as ruler over Egypt (a metaphor for this world) was a type of Satan who is the ruler of this world. A rod or a staff can be a biblical metaphor for power, authority, rulership or judgment (Gen 38:18; Exod 4:17, 20; Ps 2:9; Rev 19:15).
In this verse, it seems evident that YHVH was giving Moses authority over the powers of Satan and his forces. When Moses cast down his rod, it became a serpent, and Moses was immediately able to assume control over the serpent at will for the purposes of advancing YHVH’s spiritual kingdom. This seems to have been YHVH’s way of showing Moses that he was giving him supernatural authority over Pharaoh (Satan) in fulfilling his divine commission to liberate the children of Israel.
The staff changing into a serpent reminds us of the authority Yeshua gave his disciples to cast out demons and to heal diseases (Luke 9:1; 10:19; Mark 16:15–18).
Furthermore, YHVH instructed Moses to construct a bronze serpent and place it on a pole, which when the Israelites looked on it, they were healed of the bites of the fiery serpents (Num 21:8). The serpent represents sin, since it is Satan the serpent who introduced sin to man in the Garden of Eden, which brought upon man the curse of death. Yeshua took that curse on himself when he was lifted up on the cross of judgment as Moses lifted up the bronze serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14). Yeshua defeated Satan the serpent at the cross (Col 2:15; Gen 3:15; Rom 16:20), even as Moses’ serpent defeated the serpents of the satanic Pharaoh’s magicians. Likewise, we as the servants of Yeshua the Messiah have the same authority over demonic powers (Luke 9:1; 10:19; Mark 16:15–18).