I recently started a new reading plan on my phone’s YouVersion app (which I highly recommend). While reading about Moses in Exodus, a familiar story stood out to me:
“Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun” -Exodus 17:11-12, ESV
In this story, Israel is at war with with Amalekites, and the battle goes well when the arms of Moses are raised, and likewise the battle goes badly when his arms are lowered. It is an odd story, with people’s lives seemingly hanging in the balance, all depending on what Moses happens to be doing with his arms.
Unsatisfied, I went to commentary after commentary for some insight. All of them generally said the same thing, that the whole Moses with his arms in the air thing was about trusting God. When His arms were up, he was trusting in God, and when his arms were down, he was not trusting. So yes, I see the symbolism, but man, it still doesn’t seem to make much sense to me about the arms thing. I mean, I would like to believe that if God is going to be involved in the outcome of an event that results in the course of history being affected and people’s lives lost, it would come down to something more significant than whether or not some guy held his arms up a certain way. But the message is clear, people would see Moses with his hands high and therefore the credit for the battle would go to God as opposed to the military might of the men themselves.
Many analogies are here, but I find no practical sense that how the guy positions his body can affect whether or not people live or die. You should agree. I mean, Tim Tebow has not won the Super Bowl yet or had an undefeated season, has he? Just saying.
Still, as much as a passage like this drives me insane, I look for the timeless truth. There’s gotta be something to hold on to. So, here is what I have for you: The Top Three Things To Do When What God Has You Doing Clearly Makes Absolutely No Sense To You:
Hold up your hands. Yes I know it doesn’t seem to make sense to you. But it clearly does to God, and whether you want to admit it or not, that is what matters. When things around you go insane, when your family life is rough, when your coworkers make inexplicable decisions, when your finances get tied up in costs and not savings, when you wake up one day and realize your life or your job or your schedule or your experience isn’t at all what it was supposed to be, when you find out that you really cannot trust the people God called to be trustworthy to you, when the blame for things someone else screwed up outweighs the things you’ve accomplished, when your leaders fail you, when you’re lied to, put down, beat up, thrown aside, and walked on, when you’re so exhausted you don’t even have the energy to feel bad, when your life just “hurts” and I mean “capital H” Hurts, when everything around you turns to chaos, dysfunction, and hysteria and all God comes back at you with is “hold your arm this way instead of that way” and not a single piece of your life makes any more logical, practical sense at all… just do what you KNOW God wants from you, as simple and insignificant as it may appear to be. You may never actually like it… at least in the practical sense. But you still have to do what you KNOW God wants and in return He’s on the hook to do what only He can do, whatever that happens to mean to you.
Sit on that Rock. When Moses grew tired, he sat down on a rock. Why a rock? I don’t know. Maybe because it was available. Maybe because it was sturdy. Maybe he forgot his chair. It doesn’t matter. The main thing was when he was too tired to stand, when his endurance was low even though he could tell what was at stake, he sat down. Here is the analogy you’re expecting: When we run out of our own strength, we find something stronger to lean on. For Moses it was a rock. As a timeless truth, it is God’s power. His word. His strength. It is always greater than our own.
Embrace the strength of others to hold your arms up. Even though Moses had his rock to sit on, eventually he needed more help. He needed help to hold his arms up, and it took two dudes to do it. There’s something here for us. We’ve already heard that holding up his arms was really about trusting in God alone. Yet he couldn’t do it on his own forever. First he got tired, and sat on the rock. But then his arms gave out, and he had to lean on others. So hear that timeless truth again: don’t play out the lone hero scene of the movie when you’ve hit your limit. Our ability to trust God is challenged and sometimes exhausted. I don’t care how holy you may believe you are, but you have limits on everything you are capable of… even your faith. So don’t slap the helping hand of a friend or mentor away. Embrace their help, because God is providing a way for you to depend on Him find where true success lies.
Those are my top three. It may be time for you to sit down. Are your arms tired yet?