The eighty-year-old was tired. His hands were weary. Victory or defeat were in the balance. He needed help.
God chose Moses, a man who doubted his own abilities, to lead his people out of captivity. But Moses did not do it alone. His brother, Aaron was by his side, his strengths compensating for Moses’ weaknesses. God’s power was demonstrated through the words and actions of these men.
But the challenges Moses faced did not all drown in the sea. Different difficulties arose with the freedom of this newly forged nation. Food and water were lacking, and the people’s trust in God seemed tenuous in the best of times.
One crisis led into another. Moses’ concerns went from sustenance to violence. The Amalekites arrayed themselves for battle against Israel (Exodus 17:8). Joshua’s first mention is as the battlefield commander against Amalek. However, it wasn’t Joshua’s skills as a warrior which determined the outcome of this battle, it was the strength of Moses’ hands.
Moses held the “staff of God” in his hand (Exodus 17:9), and “whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed” (Exodus 17:11). Without God this makes no sense. God went to great lengths to ensure that people understood that he was the cause of victory. The people fought under the banner of Jehovah (Exodus 17:15), and Moses was holding up Jehovah’s banner.
The problem is that Moses’ hands grew weary (Exodus 17:12). Under the strain of holding up the banner of God, Moses became weak. He needed help. Beside him were Aaron and Hur. They sat Moses upon a stone and held up his hands, so that Moses would be “steady” or faithful (see the NET notes). This resulted in Joshua overwhelming the Amalekites (Exodus 17:13).
The victory came from Jehovah. Amalek lifted up his hand against the throne of God, and God declared he would blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven (Exodus 17:14). Yet God only empowered victory when Moses held up the staff.
God has gained the victory through Jesus, yet he expects us to be steady in holding up the banner of God.
Like Moses we can become weary. That is why God has given us a family to lift us up. Paul urged the Thessalonians to, “admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). God instructed the Galatian Christians to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
While it is wonderful to have Aarons and Hurs by your side to lift you up when you are weary, the Psalmist understood God as the strength of his people (Psalm 28:8). After God delivered David from his enemies, he began his Psalm, “I love you, O LORD, my strength” (Psalm 18:1). While Saul was still seeking David’s life, in the 59th Psalm, he addressed God twice as “O my Strength” (Psalm 59:9, 17).
When times are difficult and weakness creeps in, remember the promises of God. To the rebellious Israelites, God promised judgment at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians. Yet God would be gracious, and he would return his people home. Then a king would reign in righteousness (Isaiah 32:1), the glory of the LORD would be seen (Isaiah 35:2), and salvation would again come from God (Isaiah 35:4). He would place a highway in their midst called the “Way of Holiness” (Isaiah 35:8), and those who walked upon it would have everlasting joy (Isaiah 35:10). We live in these very days!
These promises of a now fulfilled kingdom of Christ should cause weak hands to be strengthened and trembly knees to be firm (Isaiah 35:3; Hebrews 12:12).
The victory belongs to God. Take heart, Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33). No matter what happens, keep those hands up.