But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. – Exodus 17:12
The people of Israel had very recently been freed from a life of slavery in Egypt. They had crossed the Red Sea and not been long in the wilderness before they came under attack from the wretched people of Amalek. Amalek had come from behind to attack the weak and the feeble, taking advantage of an easy target in order to take their fill of spoil. So Moses called upon Joshua to pursue them; he promised to climb the hill the next morning, to hold his rod into the air, and to pray.
Joshua engaged the Amalekites the next day, and Moses stood on the top of the hill. As long as Moses held his arms in the air, the Israelites would prevail; but as soon as Moses would let down his arms, the Amalekites would begin to prevail. But Moses’ arms became heavy. So Aaron and Hur put a stone under him for him to sit on, and they held his arms into the air on each side. His arms where held steady for the rest of the battle, and Joshua and his men were able to win the day.
This is a fascinating story for a number of reasons:
In this account we see the importance of prayer. Joshua dressed for battle, chose able bodied men, and went to fight; but we see that his victory was not dependent upon his ability, or upon fierceness of his troops. The scripture lays the entire burden upon Moses’ ability to keep his hands in the air. When they were up, the Israelites were winning, but when they were down, the Israelites were losing. How strange is that?
Moses’ ascent up the hill, and the lifting of his hands, is an allusion to prayer. The bible says we are to pray always, lifting up holy hands (1 Tim 2:8); and that we are to pray without ceasing (1 Th 5:17). While Moses continued in prayer, the Israelites would win, but when he ceased, they would begin to lose.
Moses’ ability to fervently pray for victory was the determining factor in this battle. This is also true in our lives today. There are areas in your life that will be won or lost, not based on your skill level, expertise, or hard work, but based on your ability to see it through in prayer.
I remember once praying for a little girl. She had heart troubles the moment she came into this world, and they were seriously bad. The parents of the girl were friends of mine so I took up the issue in prayer. This was at a time when I knew just a little about prayer (I’m still learning). I remember going up to the church one night to spend time in prayer for this girl. I probably spent an hour or two in prayer–maybe more. The next day I told the parents that I would be praying for her again in the morning. They joined me at the church for prayer. After praying for a considerable amount of time, I felt peace. I also felt like I didn’t really have anything to pray about anymore. After pondering this for a moment, I went to the mother. I said, “I’m no expert on this, but I think everything is going to be ok now.” I learned later that the three holes in her heart sealed up on their own, and although she has had a bumpy road, she is 5 years old and doing fine.
What happened? I fought the battle in prayer, and I think I won. I’m not saying that it was my prayers alone that accomplished it, but I do believe my prayers had an impact. I also believe that we may have had less desirable outcome if we had not continued in prayer.
Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving. – Col 4:2
Notice that Moses also had to continue in prayer until the victory was won. If he would have stopped half way, or three quarters of the way, they would have lost.
Why is that? Why couldn’t Moses just have said, “Lord, help us win this victory. Amen”? I can’t say that I know why for certain. But the truth is, I don’t have to know why. I don’t know why the tv comes on when I hit the power button, but I can still work it. I don’t know why my car goes when I hit the pedal, but I can still drive. I don’t know why women like flowers, but I can still by some for my wife!
I’d like to know why God requires persistent prayer, but I don’t need to know why to do it. One day I’ll know why, in the meantime I’m going to pray, pray, pray until I get my answer.
Another thing that I would like to point out in this passage is that being tired or weak isn’t an excuse to forgo persistent prayer. Moses was physically unable to lift his hands, but notice that God didn’t say, “Moses, you prayed hard and did the best you could, so I’m going to give you the victory.” No, the truth was that Israel was losing because Moses couldn’t lift up his hands. Israel would have lost the battle–not because Moses was too lazy to pray, but because he was physically unable!
This doesn’t seem fair, does it? Doesn’t God understand when I’m weak and tired, and when I need Him most? He does. But God does not suspend His eternal principals because we are tired.
You see, sometimes we treat the spiritual world like it’s just a mystical thing out there that is so different from the realities of this earth. But the truth is, it’s not that different. As a matter of fact, many things in the physical world are copies of the spiritual world (the temple for example – Hebrews 8:5). We understand that being weak and tired doesn’t get us anywhere in the physical world, so why would it get us any where in the spiritual world? It won’t.
God has set His laws into place, and they cannot be changed. If we do not cooperate with those laws, then we will lose.
Now this all sounds very discouraging, but I write this way for a reason. Don’t forget that the Israelites do end up winning this battle. But it wasn’t because of Moses’ stalwart ability to pray–it was because of the support of Aaron and Hur.
All that I have written previously brings us to this very important point: We must help one another.
Observing these interesting facts from this passage:
Number One: The need for Joshua and his men to go to battle.
Number Two: Joshua’s dependency on Moses’ prayers for victory.
Number Three: Moses’ dependency upon Aaron and Hur to keep him praying.
Remember that the church is a body. Each member must do it’s part for the body to function as it should. All too often the church looks like the zombie with one arm, dragging itself around the best it can. If we are to walk in the strength we are called to, we must help one another. Each member of the body must do it’s part.
If Moses hadn’t have had the help of Aaron and Hur, then he wouldn’t have been able to pray through to the victory. If he hadn’t prayed through to victory, then the Israelite army would have lost. Dead Israelites would have been carried home, and, ultimately, Moses would have been blamed. Some might have said, “Look at this Moses! He sends young men to die in battle while he is off ‘praying’ with his friends.”
The early church understood the importance of this concept. When things got too much for the apostles to handle by themselves, deacons were appointed. The deacons were there to ‘lift their arms,’ to keep the apostles praying, and in the word.
Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word. – Acts 6:3-4
There’s a part for everyone to play. You may be called to go to battle, as Joshua did, fighting the everyday battles of this world. Or you may be called, as Moses was, to pray, and to bring the word of God. Or you may be called as Aaron and Hur were, to support Moses, to keep him praying, and hearing from God.
When it comes to the church, the people of God are called to serve in their area of ministry. It may be the band, the youth, the children, giving, etc. EVERYONE should be serving in some way. If you’re not serving in God’s house, then you are a guest, not a family member.
And no matter what you are called to, we are all called to pray. Praying for our leaders is one of the most important ways to support them.
The great apostle Paul was always asking for prayer:
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. – Ephesians 6:18-20
For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer… – Philippians 1:19
brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified. – 2 Thessalonians 3:1
Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me… – Romans 15:30
So let us support one another, and pray for one another, especially those in leadership. This is what God has called us to do, and this is what will cause our churches to thrive.
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