As an expositor of God’s Word (fancy term for preacher), I have to make difficult choices each week as to what I am preaching.
Before you get concerned, let me clarify. I will preach from Scripture. I will preach the Gospel. I will show you Christ exalted, for as Luther says (rough quote) “Jesus Christ can be found on every page of Scripture.” I will walk you through the context of the passage, and make a bridge from there to today.
But each week I have to make a painful decision- most painful when preaching through longer narrative books (such as Genesis, Exodus, 1 & 2 Samuel, etc.). In order to responsibly handle God’s Word I know that I cannot show every nugget of truth from every verse- That would take about 10,000 sermons at 1.5 hours apiece -rough estimate 😉 – just to get through the first five books of the Bible.
So, some weeks I “skip” a passage. This breaks my heart. Occasionally I get a chance to write a blog about a chapter, story, or verse. This blog is my attempt to show a beautiful note about Exodus 17:8-16.
The Amalekites Attack
8 At Rephidim, Amalek came and fought against Israel. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Select some men for us and go fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the hilltop with God’s staff in my hand.”
10 Joshua did as Moses had told him, and fought against Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 While Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, but whenever he put his hand down, Amalek prevailed. 12 When Moses’s hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it. Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down. 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his army with the sword.
14 The Lord then said to Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a reminder and recite it to Joshua: I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek under heaven.”
15 And Moses built an altar and named it, “The Lord Is My Banner.” 16 He said, “Indeed, my hand is lifted up toward the Lord’s throne. The Lord will be at war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
(CSB -taken from their online version read.csbible.com)
I want to highlight verse 11. Read it again.
Now, think about it.
Think about it as a great military strategist.
Think about it as a planner.
Think about it from a psychological standpoint.
What Moses is doing just plain makes zero sense in regards to helping the Israelites win a battle against an opposing army. Nothing he is doing should help them win.
So, how does this attain victory?
Well, think about it from a spiritual standpoint.
His hands held high is a posture of prayer. “Lord, I give this battle to You! Please protect us, save us, fight for us!”
The God of Exodus is not One who is writing modern how-to books on warfare or strategy. The God of Exodus is the God who says “Watch Me.”
God is acting on behalf of his people as the Divine Warrior King, just as He did through the 10 plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea. He will continue to do so throughout Exodus, and throughout all of Scripture.
And God still does so today.
The reason why this passage stands out to me is how I have most often heard it taught that “we need to be like Aaron and Hur- helping our friends.” This is a nice moral lesson which I am sure can be an application point. But the meaning of the passage is so much greater than “help your friends out.” This passage is about God’s divine intervention on behalf of his people.
God is the One Who Acts.
And this is the reality which we need to understand. I see this reality echoed continually throughout Scripture. Read the Psalms. God is said to be active and mighty- hence why the Psalmists cried out to Him.
But it is more than just and Old Testament truth. And this is what makes me so sad. So often we say “well, God works differently now.” And by that, we mean “don’t expect great things.” Yet God gave his Church the same strategy as Moses had in this passage. Look at 1 Timothy chapter 2.
A Call to Prayer
1First of all, then, I urge that entreaties [and] prayers, petitions [and] thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. 3This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God, [and] one mediator also between God and men, [the] man Christ Jesus, 6who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony [given] at the proper time. 7For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying) as a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.
8 Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension. (NASB from Biblehub.com).
See that connection of divine strategy?
See the connection of lifting hands?
I entreat you- pray! Pray for missionaries, pastors, persecuted and imprisoned Christians. Pray for your local authorities, your school, and your neighborhood. Resist the temptation to be all about “effective strategies” or “5 year plans” yet leaving out the true victory and power which is already accomplished through, by, and for Jesus Christ.
Yes, I understand. It makes no sense to have your main strategy to be lifting your hands. But sometimes God is asking us to trust Him a little bit more, and to allow Him to act. Where He leads- we go. When He says “move,” we move. But let’s make sure we never forget that God is God- we are not. Prayer reminds us of this. And God can do infinitely more than we can ever hope or dream (Ephesians 3:20)
PS Yes, I know I have yet posted another click-bait picture on a blog that does not relate to my daughter. But isn’t she just so adorable? How could I not include at least one picture of her?!