Summary: Aaron was a man who lifted up Moses as his brother and lifted up the people of Israel as their High Priest. But that there was a day when Aaron failed to do that. Do you know what happened?
We opened with the congregation singing the first verse of “My Country Tis of Thee”
What is this weekend?
It’s Memorial Day Weekend.
It’s a time that we’ve set aside to honor those who have given their lives in service of this country to protect us and secure our freedoms.
Memorial Day has been celebrated for over 100 years
Does anybody know what war instigated the holiday we call “Memorial Day” (The Civil War)
It was originally called “Decoration Day” because people decorated the graves of Union soldiers who’d died in battle. Gradually that came to include fallen troops of the Confederate Army, and eventually soldiers of our country who had given their lives in any armed struggle.
But the Civil War was the conflict that originated our Memorial Day remembrance.
One interesting story of the Civil War had to do with a small unimportant battle almost lost in history. Apparently 1000 Union soldiers received orders to pack light and march to another camp. By coincidence, a 1000 Confederates received similar orders that day.
The two units met at a place between the camps. There was no important town or bridge to capture or defend, but a bitter struggle followed.
Since the men were traveling light, they were soon out of ammunition and began to fight hand to hand. It was a hot summer afternoon. After 3 hours of fierce fighting, men were dropping from exhaustion.
Suddenly, fifty fresh Union soldiers arrived on the scene. Though none of these men actually engaged in the conflict, their presence encouraged their comrades and renewed their strength. The battle was won in minutes.
APPLY: That battle was won because a group of 50 men arrived and supported their side. This company of soldiers arrived in the “nick of time” and turned the course of fight. And yet… they never actually took part in the fight itself.
Our story today from Exodus tells of a conflict between the people of Israel and the people of Amalek. Israel was on their way out of the land of the Amalekites when they were attacked from behind by these people. The attack seems to be unncessary and unprovoked and, because of that, God is sufficiently angry to promise that one day the Amalekites would cease to exist.
Of course the Israelites won that fight.
But it’s HOW they won the fight that’s interesting.
They won it because of the support of those who were not actually in the battle itself
Exodus 17:10-11 tells us
“… Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.”
As long as Moses held his arms in the air the Israelites won, but when he lowered them – Israel lost. The longer the battle ran, the tired-er Moses got. And the more tired he became, the harder it was to hold his arms in the air.
Seeing this the two men who are there with Moses sit him down on a rock and each hold one of his arms in the air till the battle was won.
Now, one of those two men - was Aaron, Moses’ older brother.
And Aaron was doing on that hill what he actually did MOST of his life.
He supported his brother…
He held him up and ministered to his needs
In fact, I suspect that was just Aaron’s nature.
If you had a need, Aaron would have tried to help you in any way he could.
We’re first introduced to Aaron shortly after God speaks to Moses at the burning bush.
God asked Moses to go down to Egypt and lead His people out of slavery but Moses doesn’t want to do go. He argues with God and makes all kinds of excuses as to why he shouldn’t be chosen.
One of his arguments is that he can’t speak plainly anymore (some believe he might have developed a stutter)
In Exodus 4:14-15 we’re told that “…the LORD’s anger burned against Moses and he said, ‘What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.’”
From that day until they reached Mt. Sinai where Moses’ received the 10 commandments:
Aaron was the voice of Moses
Aaron stood beside his brother and assisted him in his ministry
Aaron held his brother up and made him strong.
And that’s exactly what he’s doing here at the battle of Rephidim.