Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 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. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, saying, “A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” (Exodus 17:8-16)
There’s a popular Christian song out now on the radio called “Worn” by Tenth Avenue North. I’m neither for nor against this particular song, but the chorus seems to speak to many individuals, based on the airtime the song gets and the noticeable number of people I know who bring it up in conversation. The first line states, “I’m tired, I’m worn. My heart is heavy.” And later in the song, “My soul feels crushed, by the weight of this world.” Can’t we all identify to some extent? We’ve got the joy, joy, joy down in our hearts–an not just any joy–the Joy of the Lord, but sometimes life seems like a bit much. We can completely have Joy and still struggle. That’s one reason we don’t base our firm foundation of faith and hope on our feelings and emotions! Oh my! Instead, we look to an unchanging Savior, an ever loving God.
This was Moses’ experience. Yes, Moses. Plagues in Egypt, staffs turned to snakes, Red Sea parting, leader of the great nation of Israel, talks to God daily Moses. He was tired. He was worn out. He was human. Earlier in Exodus 17 he told God, “These people are ready to stone me!” Now, the Amalekites, fierce and brutal, were coming against them. And Moses’ hands were the method God chose to show his mighty strength and power. Moses held them above his head and the Israelites were winning the battle! If he let them down, the Israelites began to lose. But God, who never leaves us alone, who provided us with a Spirit who lives inside of us and a living community called the church, also provided for Moses, and brought him Aaron and some guy named Hur. Aaron and Hur hold up Moses’ weary hands, the people give him a stone to sit on, and the battle is won.
Moses builds an altar and calls it “The Lord is my Banner.” This is perhaps my most favorite name for an altar in the Old Testament. I can imagine Moses holding a banner high as the army battles it out below. I can picture this scene clearly, can you? Try to see it! Only, the banner Moses is holding is not made of paper or rock or anything perishable. The banner in his hands is The Lord Himself! Moses builds an altar in praise and thanksgiving of God’s presence, God being a part of Israel’s life. God’s strength poured out, even when we feel like we can’t go any more. God could have left these grumbling people to be, but instead, He chose them and is their banner over them. God is our banner. He fills us with His Spirit and gives us strength for each new day- no matter what that day may hold.
We are thankful to be strengthened by Him.
Questions for contemplation: