“And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 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 17:11-12)
Moses’ struggle in Exodus 17 is unique because it does not originate in lack of desire or knowledge of right and wrong. The issue did not lie in his heart, but in his body. This is a different scenario than God usually presents. We are used to seeing men like David or Peter allowing selfishness to blockade their relationship with God, but Moses wants to serve God. Why does God not allow Moses to serve Him? The relevance of this story for us is in the ability of God’s people to work in unity to accomplish things which are impossible for a solitary individual.
In Exodus 17, it is clear to Moses what he must do. Keep his hands up and Israel wins, keep his hands down and they lose. As has been his desire since the time of slavery, Moses’ primary focus is on the success of the people of God. However, his body does not cooperate. His hands become like stones, his muscles tighten, and his arms sag. Desire and zeal did not guarantee success for Moses.
This is a difficult truth to grasp. I frequently think that as long as my mind is set right that I can accomplish anything. With or without the help of others, I will succeed. This is a fallacy that we too quickly buy into. You, me, and Moses find ourselves in the same position as the disciples when they were dozing off in Gethsemane. Jesus warned them to “watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Some weaknesses are beyond our control. We want to be perfect. We strive to be perfect. Yet we are imperfect beings.
To the Rescue
As Moses’ body fails him, his friends do not. Aaron and Hur step in to complete what was lacking in Moses. They move a stone for Moses to sit on and hold his hands up so the people of God prevail. Where one man was weak and inadequate, the combination of these three men was capable of fulfilling God’s plan.
A few things about their actions stand out to me. First, the text does not record any pleas or petitions by Moses for their service. Instead, the men recognize the need and then jump to fix the situation. They did not need incessant cries for help or worse yet a forceful shove (or passive-aggressive guilt trip) into action. This only occurs when a deep relationship exists instead of the all too frequent church building relationship. We have to know one another’s strengths and weaknesses in order to know when our services are required. I fail in this area. How are you doing?
Secondly, Aaron and Hur are willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve God’s objectives. Holding up Moses’ arms would be just as physically tortuous for them as it was for Moses. However, they simply do not care. Their enjoyment or ease was of little concern. We like our relaxation time and we like pile hobbies on top of relaxation. We rarely want to disrupt our precious time off with hard spiritual work, but every little bit helps. By simply holding up the arms of Moses, Aaron and Hur were a part of a great victory of God. Surely there is something you and I can do and a need we can fill.
One final point about Moses that makes me respect him more is he does not resist help. Remember, it was Moses that God spoke to through the bush, lead the charge against Pharoah, and tapped the rock to bring forth water. Why would such a strong man need their help? Moses never allows pride to prevent the completion of God’s plan.
We like to think we can do it ourselves. We believe help is for the weak, but it is more a sign of strength than weakness. We must never be ashamed to receive help from our brethren. It does not matter if it’s a small physical weakness or a colossal spiritual failing. We gain nothing by maintaining the image of perfection while sinking privately into depression. Moses was not ashamed to be helped and we must not be either.
This short excerpt speaks volumes about the relationship that must exist among the saints. It requires all parties involved to focus primarily on the will of God. If our focus is the success of the kingdom, then we will view the giving and receiving of help as a joyous event.