“As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained stead till sunset.” Exodus 17:12-13
There are a few activities that have shifted from being fun as a child to being a workout as an adult. I’m not exactly sure when the change happens but I now find that jumping on a trampoline leaves me feeling very winded. Swimming for hours in the summer is no longer effortless and keeping up with my daughter on her bike is harder than I remember. I feel like holding my arms over my head, while seemingly a low-impact activity, would prove to be quite challenging as the lactic acid burn begins to set in. It appears Moses went through this and the stakes were quite high for him to continue to have his arms raised.
This passage has proved challenging to me in some regards because the notion of Moses being able to control the destiny of the Israelite army with the raising and lowering of his arms felt odd. Upon doing some studying, I discovered it was customary for Jewish people to lift up theirs hands while praying. When Moses raised his arms, he was appealing to the strength and sovereignty of God and showing his full reliance on the Lord to give the Israelites victory. This is quite different from how I tend to function. When I want something done, I want to take matters into my own hands, not lift them up to God in surrender. I tend to white knuckle my behavior into outward obedience instead of bringing my heart of stone to God and asking Him to change it (Ezekiel 11:19). I tend to fix my eyes on my sinful tendencies or minimize my sin by focusing on someone else’s brokenness rather than fix my eyes above (Colossians 3:1-2).
Aaron and Hur are some pretty incredible and resourceful companions. How clever of them to assess the situation and then look around and take inventory of what might prove to be useful to Moses. And then they stand with him, side-by-side in a beautiful picture of brotherhood and friendship. If I were ever in charge of ensuring a nation’s victory in war by holding my arms up, I sure would want people like Aaron and Hur next to me!
But there is application in this passage for us today. Do you have friends that can come alongside you as you face battles in your life? Do you have friends that will remind you to surrender things to the Lord? Will you let them hold up your arms when you’re too worn out to cry to God? Are you that friend that is willing to get creative when a loved one is dealing with a situation that doesn’t ever seem to get resolved? May we be the type of friends that stand side-by-side with others, having strong arms that are raised in surrender to God, and know that our victory rests in Him alone.
written by Heather Cox