Sunday, April 10, 2022 0 comments

The Lesson for Us from the Israelites’ Battle with the Amalekites

8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim

9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.

10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.

11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

12 But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: (Exodus 17:8-14)

We usually make this story about the importance of sustaining our leaders. It’s a good lesson, since our good leaders have many demands on them and need help accomplishing the work they are inspired to do.


However, I noticed another lesson in this story today, a larger one for all of us, whether we’re leaders or not.


Remember, the children of Israel have already had one battle with the Amalekites and it isn’t over when the day is over. They’re going to have this battle the next day too. This is strenuous work, and they are not trained warriors. They do the best they can by choosing out men to go fight, but their chosen men were still not trained.


So on the second day, Moses holds up his hand—he was probably inspired to do this—and when he does it, he can see from his elevated position on top of the hill that Israel succeeds when he does that. So you do more of what works, right?  If holding up your hand brings success, then you keep doing that as long as it takes, until the job is done.


Think about how much endurance it takes to hold up your hand. Compare that to the amount of endurance it would take to swing a sword all day while fighting with an enemy. Those are very different kinds of activities, but they both take strength and endurance.


Side note story: I once was visiting with my little nieces and nephews and got two of them into a contest to see who could keep their arm up the longest while holding a 5 lb weight. It was fascinating how competitive they were and all the machinations they went through to relieve their weariness while still keeping their arms up. I think they got to 30 minutes before it was time for lunch and their mom forced a stop to the contest.


How long do you suppose that battle took? How long did Moses have to hold his arm up? We see in the text that he got tired after a while and that’s when his brother Aaron and this other fellow Hurr had him sit on a rock while they held his hands up.  They did this the whole day, “until the going down of the sun.”   That’s a super long time.


Now, here’s the two-million-dollar question: While we know who held up Moses’ hands, who held up the hands of the Israelites in the battle? 


It was the Lord. The Lord gave them the strength, the endurance, the energy, the determination, the perseverance, all of it, to keep swinging that sword and keep swinging that sword and dodging and darting and jabbing and running and pushing and on and on…


That was the miracle that we’re supposed to learn and remember from this story. While the prophet got tired and had two persons who held him up, the Lord upheld the people in battle. 


So when we need strength and endurance and perseverance and energy because we are just not cut out for the job in front of us, we know who we can turn to and ask for help.