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Three men on a hill

May 2011 | by Roger Hitchings


Three men on a hill

The situation was not good. The children of Israel had just crossed the Red Sea and were on their way to Mount Sinai. They were still new to the idea of being free from captivity and being a nation in their own right.
    Excitement and fear, no doubt, filled many people’s hearts. Then something unexpected happened. Soldiers were seen on the horizon. The Amalekites were preparing to attack; their future was at stake.
    Moses and Joshua conferred together. What should they do? They had never fought a battle before and the Amalekites were successful warriors.
Battle joined

Moses had a plan. Joshua would lead the army and fight the enemy, while Moses would climb the nearby hill with the staff God had used before with Pharaoh and when crossing the Red Sea.
    Why did Moses do that? So that he might pray. At the end of the account in Exodus 17:8-16 we read that ‘hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord’ (NIV).
    So the battle began and Moses raised his arms and the staff of God. Things went well at first, but then Moses got tired and his arms began to droop. Then the Amalekites began to get on top.
    Moses recouped his strength and thrust his arms up again, so Israel got on top. That was how the battle went for quite a while. But poor Moses was over 80 and the effort was proving too much. Then help came.
Strategic help

Aaron and Hur came alongside. Aaron was older than Moses and Hur was no youngster. They sat Moses on a large stone and held his arms. So together these three older men prayed to God, while Joshua and the young men fought the enemy in the valley.
    While prayer was being offered, Israel triumphed and, as the day wore on, Joshua overcame the Amalekites.
    Who won the victory? Joshua and his brave soldiers by the way they fought? Moses, Aaron and Hur by the way they persisted in prayer?
    No, it was the Lord who won the victory. The old men and the young men served him faithfully in their different roles.
    Here is the lesson of this story: when old men lift up hands to God, young men are enabled to triumph in the battle. It’s all about the fact that the young need the old and the old need the young. As Solomon says, ‘The glory of young men is their strength, grey hair the splendour of the old’.
    We all must play a part.

Roger Hitchings
With permission of the Pilgrims’ Friend Society Quarterly