Summary: Don’t forget your pardner! It takes two to win!
TWO HANDS UP!
Exodus 17: 8-16
My father-in-law loves westerns! Budd considers it a great day when he can sit and watch one western after another. He has the “Encore Western Channel” on his cable system, so he can ride off into the sunset with Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and Buffalo Bill, all from the comfort of his recliner.
You remember how some of those western plots go. One group of cowboys lies in wait for another group of cowboys who have to go through a narrow pass. When the second group comes along, the first group ambushes and takes the gold…or the silver…or the payroll…or the girl…or whatever they are after in this particular shoot ‘em up!
The Bible records for us an enemy attack just like it was taken out of an old western. We find it recorded in Exodus 17:8-16.
8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim.
9 Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands."
10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill.
11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.
12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up-- one on one side, one on the other-- so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
14 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven."
15 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner.
16 He said, "For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation."
The Amalekites were a bunch of onery cusses who wandered from place to place making their livelihood by raiding settlements and ambushing travelers. They killed for pleasure, one commentator says. Later on, God will remind the children and grandchildren of this ambush at Rephidim in Deuteronomy 25:17-18:
17 Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt.
18 When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God.
It takes a lot of nerve to attack a weakened warrior! On top of being weak, God had just performed a mighty miracle for the people by giving them water was there was no water, out of a rock!
The Scripture says that the Amelekites came an attacked the Israelites at Rephedim. The Amelekites sent their scouts out and discovered that this huge nation, millions of people are traveling through the Wilderness of Sin, coming this way. The Amelekite scouts must have seen flashes of the gold and jewels the Israelites had taken from the Egyptians. What a booty the Amelekites could gain if they could ambush them. And they are headed straight for the valley of Rephidim. It’s the prefect ambush!
Moses, leading the people of Israel, is watching the hills! Movement in those rocks above Rephidim alerts him that a fight is about to brew! So he tells Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands." The staff of God is what Moses had used to deliver the people from Pharoah, the Red Sea, and from dying of thirst! It will deliver them from the hands of these marauders as well!
Moses goes to the top of the hill, taking two friends with him, while Joshua and his boys go against the Amelekites. The deliverance God brings rarely makes sense. God will rarely deliver you in a natural way. He almost always uses the extraordinary and unusual so that you will know that He is God!
Moses raises the staff of God and Joshua and his boys beat back the onery Amelekites! Moses is standing with two hands up, holding the staff of God for the Israelites to see and know that deliverance is theirs! Victory is sure for the people of Israel just like every other time! The guys in the white hats are gonna win again! Aaron and Hur must have watched this shoot ‘em up and thought, “Yeah, God!” Sic ‘em, Joshua. God is bringing us victory! Until…Moses got tired. It’s the natural result of sticking your hands up. Your arms are gonna hurt and get tired. You’ll shuffle your feet, take deep breaths, try to readjust your stance, but your arms are gonna give out! While this may not seem a problem to you, it had a devastating effect on the battle.