Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Lord is my Banner

I love when God uses His people.  I especially appreciate those who have gone before.  One such example is Moses.

A murderer who wasn't eloquent with words, running in fear of the world, was given charge of God's people.  We respect him now, but there is no reason anyone would have trusted him to lead them, especially from the grip of slavery.  

We all know the story when Moses challenged Pharaoh with plagues and then eventually leading the Egyptian army to their deaths at the Red Sea.  How magnificent God's power was revealed to His people!  God used a man unqualified to lead.  The story didn't stop there. Shall we dare to continue?  

Exodus 17:8-16

"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 and 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."

What a battle that was!  God could have defeated Amalek without Moses, Aaron, Hur, Joshua or anyone else.  Those men had to accept on faith that God would do as He promised.  It didn't matter that God had done that so many times, God was going to show up again!

What struck me most was the requirement of Moses.  He needed help to carry out God's will.  He took friends to the top of the hill to stand with him.  When the battle waged on and the burden became heavy, his friends lifted him up and helped him.  They gave him a place to sit and held his arms up.  As long as Moses' hands were in the air, the battle was victorious.  

How many battles do we face every day?  Sometimes they are big ones and sometimes they seem small.  Each one of us has battles that we face alone.  Why?  Could Moses have carried out the victory God had in store without the help of others?

How many times do we shrink away from asking for help, prayer, support, encouragement?  How prideful are we when we refuse to allow others to help carry the burdens?  God allows/brings the battles to us not so that we can win, but that we can see HIS glory revealed.  Our victory is IN our obedience.  Joshua could have won that battle without Moses IF God wanted it to.  We see over and over battles that God won without anyone's help at all.  Why would this one be any different?

It can mean many things, but today it meant a lot more to me than just an old testament account.  There are so many times recently that I have wrapped myself up in the battles I face, determined to fight them alone.  God reminded me through this scripture and others that I am not meant to wage these wars alone.  I need Aaron and Hur in my life to stand with me and when I grow weary to lift me up until the battle has been won.

God will fight for me, but I have to trust that as long as I lift my hands to Him, we will be victorious. It is easy to grow tired, especially when so many battles are waging at the same time.  

Victory won't always mean that we get what we asked for.  It is the faith that changes us.  That is the victory.  God will use each battle to show us His faithfulness, reveal His glory and through it we will reflect His image. Victory in Jesus! 
I can only imagine the conversation Moses had with God before this battle.  I am sure that, like everything else, God required Moses to accept on faith that the battle was already won.  He probably felt silly standing on the hill holding his hands in the air.  Or maybe by then he knew that what God expected of him simply required the obedience.  Either way, he did it, raising his hands to God Almighty. His friends helped carry the burden and they received victory.  

I am sure they received something else too. 

What battles are you fighting today?  Are you lifting your hands to God counting on HIM and the promises of victory?  Are you helping someone else carry their burden?  

I love what Matthew Henry's commentary says:

Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
17:8-16 Israel engaged with Amalek in their own necessary defence. God makes his people able, and calls them to various services for the good of his church. Joshua fights, Moses prays, both minister to Israel. The rod was held up, as the banner to encourage the soldiers. Also to God, by way of appeal to him. Moses was tired. The strongest arm will fail with being long held out; it is God only whose hand is stretched out still. We do not find that Joshua's hands were heavy in fighting, but Moses' hands were heavy in praying; the more spiritual any service is, the more apt we are to fail and flag in it. To convince Israel that the hand of Moses, whom they had been chiding, did more for their safety than their own hands, his rod than their sword, the success rises and falls as Moses lifts up or lets down his hands. The church's cause is more or less successful, as her friends are more or less strong in faith, and fervent in prayer. Moses, the man of God, is glad of help. We should not be shy, either of asking help from others, or of giving help to others. The hands of Moses being thus stayed, were steady till the going down of the sun. It was great encouragement to the people to see Joshua before them in the field of battle, and Moses above them on the hill. Christ is both to us; our Joshua, the Captain of our salvation, who fights our battles, and our Moses, who ever lives, making intercession above, that our faith fail not. Weapons formed against God's Israel cannot prosper long, and shall be broken at last. Moses must write what had been done, what Amalek had done against Israel; write their bitter hatred; write their cruel attempts; let them never be forgotten, nor what God had done for Israel in saving them from Amalek. Write what should be done; that in process of time Amalek should be totally ruined and rooted out. Amalek's destruction was typical of the destruction of all the enemies of Christ and his kingdom.

It was an encouragement to others when they saw Moses raising his hands.  With your hands raised in battle, it will encourage others too.  You will point back to the One who is victorious always!  

When the battle was won, Moses had to write the account down so that it was never forgotten what GOD did that day.  Our testimony should serve the same purpose.  Write it down, tell others, allow God to minister to others so that it will not be forgotten what HE has done and who HE is!

Whatever battle/s you are facing, raise HIGH THE BANNER!  Let is shown through you where your strength comes from.  Allow God to do the work.  Don't be afraid to let others help, especially when we grow weary.