Just when Moses thinks he’s got more than his fair share of problems, a surprise attack comes from out of nowhere in Exodus 17. While the Israelites are busy moving toward Mount Sinai, the Amalekites, descendants of Esau, assault God’s people from behind.
Just like in the wild, the weak and feeble are the most vulnerable and the enemy sees the sick and elderly stragglers as an easy target. It’s hard to say how long it takes for word to reach Moses at the front of the crowd, but when he hears about the ensuing attack, he moves quickly to put a strategy in place. Moses assigns Joshua to allocate a makeshift army while he, Aaron and Hur (possibly Miriam’s husband), climb to the top of the hill for a bird’s-eye view of the battlefield.
Somehow Moses figures out that as long as he keeps his hands raised toward God, Israel remains on top. But as soon as he puts them down for a second, the Amalekites begin to gain ground. If you’ve ever been at a Christian concert or worship service, you know how hard it can be to keep your hands in the air for any length of time. Even though you might want to keep praising that way, after a while your arms get tired.
By the time we get to Exodus 17:12, Moses hands are heavy to say the least. He can barely keep them up a minute longer and understandably so. This isn’t a 2-hour concert or worship service. It’s an all-day event and the future of the entire nation of Israel is in Moses’ hands. Literally.
When Aaron and Hur see that Moses is getting worn out, they pull up a stone for him to rest while the battle rages on. Standing on each side of Moses, the two men hold up his weary hands and keep them steady right through to sunset. At the end of an incredibly long day, Moses is probably experiencing numbness, tingling and a loss of feeling in his hands and fingers, but because he persists, Joshua overpowers the enemy and takes home the trophy.
It’s interesting to note that each one of the four main players had a critical role in the outcome of events that day. Without Moses’ faith and ability to hear from God, they would not have known what to do next. Without Joshua taking action steps, the Amalekites would have had Hebrew for dinner. And without Aaron and Hur holding up Moses’ hands, they would not have had God’s supernatural power to defeat the enemy.
While Moses wasn’t too holy or spiritual to enlist the help of others, most of us would rather struggle alone with our problems than ask for help. But this perfect picture of the Body of Christ shows us we were created for community and meant to support, encourage and help each other through the challenges and difficulties of life.
Sometimes it’s not so much the strength of the enemy but the length of the battle that causes you to lose. Seemingly small irritations extended over time can be far more discouraging than big problems that are over and done with and leave you to pick up the pieces.
Persistent, long-standing problems in our lives, often in the form of people, can slowly eat away at your resolve and carry the potential to rob you by default. Even the enemy knows that the last man standing wins. And sometimes that’s all you have to do to see the victory.
When you’ve done everything you can and you don’t know what else to do, take a lesson from this historical event. Keep praising God like Moses, take practical steps forward like Joshua and get a couple of friends like Aaron and Hur to hold you up in prayer.
It’s okay if you take a break to catch your breath like Moses did while others hold you up. But don’t even think about quitting. Not even for a minute. It might be well after sunset even now, but as long as you stay in the battle and don’t give up, you will take home the prize.
How are you holding up? Do you still have the strength to praise God in the midst of the battle or has discouragement moved in for the kill? Have you enlisted the help of others or are you standing alone? If so, ask someone to pray for you today. If you don’t have anyone you can ask, I’ll pray for you. Send me an email or leave a comment below so others can pray as well. But don’t go it alone when you don’t have to.