Hands Held High
While they were enjoying the water God had provided for them at Rephidim, the Israelites were suddenly ambushed by Amalekites. The Amalekites were descendants of Esau—Jacob’s twin brother (see #19). They had no respect for Israel or their God, and they began targeting the weak and weary travelers who were lagging behind. Moses felt obligated to defend the people God had placed under his leadership, so he commanded Joshua to lead some of the stronger men into battle against the Amalekites the next day. This would be the first battle that Israel fought as a nation. Moses realized that victory would be completely dependent on God’s presence and power, since they were facing an army with much more equipment and experience. Moses wanted to demonstrate his dependence on God in a way that both the Amalekites and the Israelites could clearly understand. So, he stood at the top of a hill overlooking the battlefield with his arms held high and his staff extended toward the heavens. It was a posture of prayer and praise. It didn’t take long for him to realize that the outcome of the battle was dependent on how long he could hold this position. When his arms were raised, the Israelites were able to advance; if he lowered them, the Amalekites had the advantage. Fortunately, Moses had invited his brother Aaron and a companion named Hur to join him at the top of the hill. Springing into action, they provided a rock for him to sit on. Then they held his arms steady with the staff extended until the sun went down. With Joshua fighting in the valley below and Moses, along with Aaron and Hur, lifting his staff on the hill above, the Israelites defeated the Amalekites. Moses built an altar there to praise God and signify the victory He had won for them. Soon after this, Moses’ wife and sons joined him in the wilderness near Mount Sinai. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, accompanied them. He listened with excitement to all the amazing things that the Lord had done through Moses to rescue the Israelites from Egypt. Then Jethro worshiped God and led the Israelites in offering sacrifices. The next day, Jethro watched as Moses spent all day settling disputes and teaching the people what God wanted them to do. That evening he gave Moses some advice. “You are wearing yourself out,” he explained. “The job you have taken on is way too big for one man to handle. Your first priority is to be the people’s representative before God and teach them.” Jethro advised Moses to appoint trustworthy leaders to settle the people’s everyday disputes. Moses followed Jethro’s advice. He was able to set up an efficient system of leadership that satisfied the people and allowed him to find rest.
Do you have friends who are willing to help you when things get tough? Are you willing to listen to others when they offer godly advice? There are times we cannot accomplish all the things God wants us to do without accepting the help of others. God never intended for us to make it through life on our own.