Complaining reached new heights when the people started to quarrel with Moses (17:2) and were ready to stone him (17:4) when they got thirsty. I marvel at the patience of God toward an unbelieving, grumbling people because he tells Moses to strike the rock at Horeb (the Sinai region) so that they can drink. Moses called the place Massah ("testing") and Meribah ("quarreling").
In this place, they also met up with the Amalekites. The Amalekites were descendants of Esau through Eliphaz (Genesis 36:12). In this passage, we also meet a new character who will play a major role in the next book: Joshua! This story is significant because Moses held the staff of God above his head with both hands in total dependence on God for the victory over the Amalekites. When he lowered his hands, the enemy won. Aaron and Hur had to help keep his hands up for the victory to be assured.
In Exodus 18, Moses' father-in-law, Jethro, visited and gave praise to God by sacrifices after he heard of all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. He was a Midianite priest (Exodus 2:16), and the Midianites were idolatrous, but perhaps he now believed in Moses' God because he said to Moses "and may God be with you" (18:19).
This chapter concludes with Jethro giving Moses some sound advice about the delegation of his tasks.
The Scarlet Thread of Redemption
Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 and discover for yourself the scarlet thread for today!
REFLECTION (Written in 2008)
In 1988, I was on a three-month trip in Bangkok, Thailand with sixteen other "twenty-somethings" from all over the United States. We did ethnographic research for five days a week, and one day a week we spent walking the hot, noisy streets of Bangkok praying for God to be glorified in that city, and I tell you, like the Israelites and the Amalekites of Exodus 17, it was a battle. Bangkok is one spiritually dark place!
During one of our team devotional times, our leader, Steve Hawthorne (author of Prayer Walking), taught from Exodus 17 in order to illustrate the importance of team. He said that just as the Israelites were in a physical battle with the Amalekites, we are in a spiritual battle with the enemy, and we need to "lift up each other's arms." In order to illustrate this, he had each of us, individually come to the center of the room so that that person could be supported by two other team members as that person lifted up his or her arms. Those two other team members (our "Aaron" and "Hur") prayed blessing, protection, and support over our lives.
It was one of the most powerful prayer experiences of my life.
In borrowing from the cheesy High School Musical song:
We are all in this together!
Who are the "Aaron" and "Hur" in your life as you face the daily battle? Who props your arms up when you are tired? Whose arms are you helping stay up? We are the body of Christ, and we need each other!
I suggest you have at least two people in your life whom you can call, email, or text to ask for prayer through the battles of your life. I call my little band of women my "Go to Girls," and they help we weather the storms, and I help them.
Lord, thank You for Your word that challenges us every day to grow. I thank You that You have given these great people of faith to us as examples of how we might live out this life of faith. Lord, make us people who support others in their battle, and provide people to support us too. Lord, thank You that You created us to be in community with one another! Amen.