Welcome back to Exodus! It’s been awhile, but I’m excited to dive back into the life of Moses and the story of God as He transformed a ragtag group of ex-slaves into a conquering nation. Israel had a long ways to go, but each step in their journey brought them closer to the Promised Land and closer to the heart of God. So let’s return to following their footsteps through the pages of Exodus that we may learn from their mistakes and see how God can use broken, imperfect people to accomplish His divine purposes.
As we stand on the edge of a new year and new decade, I think it fitting that our return to the book of Exodus starts out with a powerful event—the first battle and victory for the newly freed Israelites. Let’s take a look at the story.
“Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’ So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.”
There’s a lot going on in this story! We have three main people: the enemy Amalek, Joshua, and Moses. But there were also two other men who’s involvement in this account are equally important. So let’s take a look at each of these men and see how God used all of them to bring a victory for the Israelites.
Joshua was involved in the direct action in this event. He was responsible for choosing fighting men and physically going out to the battle field against Amalek. It took courage to lead an army of ex-slaves into their first battle. I wonder how he felt the odds of Israel winning were. Or how did he go about choosing the men for his army? Moses’ instructions were simply to go choose men and fight Amalek. He didn’t tell Joshua how or give him a list of specifications or battle tactics. Just go. And Joshua obeyed. His courage and faith to show up on the battlefield and face the enemy enabled the next miracle to happen.
What about us? Are we like Joshua who fearlessly entered into battle for the first time with a novice army? Are we willing to show up on the battlefield, even if we don’t know what we’re doing, and simply stand in faith and face the enemy?
Joshua became the mighty warrior leader for Israel not because he received elite training in warfare, but because he showed up on the battlefield with courage and believed God could do the impossible. And as he led the Israelites into victory after victory, his greatest weapon and military tactic was faith. So may we learn from Joshua and not be afraid to show up on our battlefield with faith and courage, allowing the stage to be set for God to do the impossible.
Up next is Moses. Throughout the story of the Exodus, Moses had been the one performing all the miracles. While Aaron had been his mouthpiece, all the action came from Moses. However, this day everything was about to change. Instead of being the only instrument God would use to accomplish His purposes, there were others involved in this miracle. However, Moses was still the main guy.
Look at what Moses tells young Joshua. Do you see what he says he’ll be doing while Joshua goes out and faces Amalek? Moses promised Joshua that he would be standing on the mountaintop with the staff of God in his hand. The staff that struck the Nile and turned it to blood. The staff that brought plagues upon Egypt. The staff that parted the Red Sea. This visual symbol of divine power must have given Joshua courage and boldness, and he went out to the battlefield knowing that Moses would be standing in the gap with the staff of God in his hand.
We see that every time Moses raised his hands to heaven the Israelites started winning, but the moment he lowered them Amalek gained ground. But remember that Moses was in his eighties or nineties at this point and battles are not short affairs. So Moses’ human weakness started to take over, and he could not physically keep his hands raised for the whole time. So what happened next?
Cue the next characters in this story, Aaron and Hur. These men were with Moses and saw all that was going on, so the moment that Moses’ arms dropped from exhaustion, these men stepped in and helped their leader by supporting his arms for him. They set Moses down on a rock and stood next to him holding up his arms for the rest of the battle. What a beautiful picture!
God didn’t need Moses to keep his hands raised to give Israel the victory. He could have given the victory without that part. However, by working in this way, He involved more people into the story. If Moses didn’t need to keep his hands raised, Aaron and Hur would not have been involved. They would have just been spectators. But since God uses our human frailty, He worked it out in such a way that He would receive more glory and more people would get to experience His power at work. Now Aaron and Hur had the opportunity to move from being mere spectators to fellow workers in bringing the Israelites their first victory.
But what if they had passed up the opportunity? What if they had seen Moses’ arms start to drop from exhaustion and did nothing about it? What if they had considered the inconvenience and hassle of holding up someone else’s arms for multiple hours too much? What if they had just remained spectators?
The story would read much differently. Moses would have worn himself out with trying to hold his hands up for the whole time on his own strength. He might have fainted from exhaustion and fatigue or fallen over. Joshua might have perished in the battle or at least carried the burden of losing his army. The newly freed people of Israel might have been taken into captivity if the Amalekites had won. At the very least, the people might have gotten so discouraged that they returned to Egypt.
However, whatever might have played out, I can guarantee you that the story would read much differently if all the people involved had not done their part. If Joshua had not courageously gone out to battle, if Moses had not climbed that mountain and stood in the gap for that generation, or if Aaron and Hur had not taken up the baton and continued standing for Israel when Moses ran out of strength. Every single person was important and had a vital role in the Israelites’ first victory.
So now my question for you: who are you in the story?
Are you Joshua, Moses, Aaron, or Hur? Are you the one interceding on the behalf of a generation in battle? Are you called to stand over them with hands raised high, asking God to bring a victory? Or are you the one called to step in and take up the baton when those before you start to grow weary and wear out? Do you need to hold up someone’s arms for an hour or two so that God would continue to bring victory in the lives of those on the battlefield? Or are you the generation that’s in the battle? Are you the one called to go forth and meet the enemy with courage and faith?
Sometimes miracles require teamwork. This was true for the Israelites’ first battle against Amalek, and it is often true in our lives. So are we willing to be a team player? We typically prefer the stories of one man or woman doing it all—like Moses, David, or Esther. However, if you look at the miraculous stories in the Bible, God generally uses a group of people who work together in harmony towards a common goal. So are you ready to be a team player? Are you ready to get out on that battlefield with courage or stand over a generation with endurance and faith?
Remember, with God nothing is impossible. We just need to find our role in the story and be ready to see God bring a victory. Because if we’re willing and available, God will use us to do some crazy things! But at the end of the day, both in our lives and in the lives of Joshua, Moses, Aaron, and Hur, it is God who brings the victory. All glory and honor goes to God—who is the true power behind the miracle. Jehovah Nissi, the Lord our Banner.
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