Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then 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 one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Exodus 17:8-13
It’s an interesting thing, the way the ups and downs of this battle followed the ups and downs of Moses’ hands. The key, I think, is that in those hands was “the staff of God” – the same staff which, in Moses’ hand, had been part and parcel of God’s mighty working several times in Israel’s recent history (in the bringing of some of the plagues, in the parting of the Red Sea, and in bringing water from a rock earlier in Exodus 17). The staff was not magical or powerful itself, but the way God had used it in Moses’ hands seems to have made it emblematic of His power! And thus it was on this particular day! God evidently wanted this staff – this emblem of His mighty acts on behalf of His people – held aloft as a reminder that the battle was His, and that it was His power that would win the day. “Apart from” Him, as Jesus reminds us in John 15, we “can do nothing.” And so, when the reminder of God’s power was held high, God’s people prevailed in His strength.
But then there is something else to notice in this battle with the Amalekites. And that is that, while “the staff of God” needed to be held high in this fight, Moses couldn’t do it alone. After a period of time, “Moses’ hands were heavy” … his arms grew tired, as we can imagine they would! And so thank God for Aaron and Hur, who “supported his hands”! And thank God for those who perform a similar ministry, today, on behalf of the leaders of God’s people! For, by their preaching of the word, God’s ministers today are continually holding God and His power aloft before His people, so that the people come under the influence of that power, and go out and “fight the good fight” in His strength. And, by their prayers for the flock, these same ministers are calling down that power from on high. It’s not exactly the same as Moses’ uplifting of the staff (for the word of God is far more than an emblem of God’s power!), but there are parallels, are there not? And one parallel is that, like Moses, the minister’s arms and hands can grow tired and heavy, too! And blessed are the Aarons and Hurs who uphold their minister’s arms in prayer! Blessed are those who pray for their pastors and elders! Make sure you do that – praying for their teaching and preaching, for their counseling and evangelism, for their family life, and for them to have the energy and wherewithal to keep going, holding the word aloft before the people. God’s people prevail when the word is constantly held up in the midst of the battle-field of this world. So please do lift the arms; please do pray for those who hold it aloft in your midst!