Lifting Up the Rod
“And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed” (v. 11).
- Exodus 17:8–16
The Amalekites were the posterity of Esau and thus Israel’s sworn enemies. They were a nomadic people who roamed the country in southern Palestine. These ancient enemies of Israel dealt subtlety with the Hebrews by striking them from the rear. In response to this unprovoked attack against His people, God directed Moses to put Joshua in command of the army, and for Moses to stand on the top of the hill, lifting his staff toward heaven. This was the same staff Moses used to deliver the Hebrews from Egypt. It was a sign of God’s power and presence, and so it would be lifted up before the people as a reminder that God would fight for them against their enemies.
The lifted rod served to bolster the faith and encourage the fearful hearts of Israel as they warred against the Amalekites. When we know that God is with us, that it is by His power we are saved, our faith is strengthened and the battle goes our way.
Moses’ task to lift up the rod was not merely an encouragement to the Israelites of God’s presence, but it was, in essence, intercessory prayer to God. And so we learn from this that those who go out into the fields to wage war against our enemies need those who are committed to prayer to intercede on their behalf. Matthew Henry comments, “When the host goes forth against the enemy, earnest prayers should be made to the God of hosts for His presence with them. It is here the praying legion proves to be the thundering legion.”
Being but a man, Moses soon grew weary: The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Thus, we learn how important it is to have supports in our ministry, to admit that we are frail and in need of help from others.
Moses anticipated this weakness of his flesh and so asked Aaron and Hur to go up with him on the hill. We should be just as willing to have others help us in the midst of spiritual warfare, times of trial, and physical affliction. It is to our own hurt when we fail to rely on others in the church to assist us. Imagine what would have happened if Moses had refused help. Israel would have been defeated.
Israel, however, did not suffer loss, but was victorious over its enemies. Notice that Moses did not claim credit for this victory, but gave God the glory, saying, “The Lord is my banner.” We, too, should always remember that God is our banner, the one who delivers us.
Do you ever pray for someone in ministry? It could be any ministry from a pastor, to a missionary, to a husband and wife ministering to their children, to a Sunday School teacher. If you do not already do this, make a list of people to pray for. Intercede for them, praying that God will give them faithfulness in their ministries.
Passages for Further Study
- Matthew 26:41
- Luke 18:1
- Romans 8:26, 27
- Ephesians 6:10–20
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