The man stood on the hilltop.
He lifted his arms, his palms up towards the blue sky, and watched the battle begin to rage in the valley beneath him.
Perhaps the sun was strong that day; if it was, then it beat down on his shoulders with a merciless heat as the first hour passed by. Perhaps a few clouds passed by and dropped some rain, and he turned his face upward to catch some cool drops. Perhaps there was a wind, a slight breeze that carried up the sounds of clashing metal and thudding footsteps.
Whatever the weather was like, his arms soon started aching. His muscles began to burn as if a fire had been lit along them, slowly consuming every strained fiber as it went. Soon they faltered, and his hands came down for a short moment of rest. And the battle below turned for the worse. Israelite soldiers who had been gaining ground suddenly found themselves surrounded by sharp swords and ruthless attackers. The Amalekites surged forward with a cheer — and the Israelites answered with their own fierce push as Moses’ hands went up again.
Who knows how many such moments it took for Aaron and Hur to finally catch on?
Aaron’s eyes must have flown back and forth from the battle to Moses’ hands, breathless as the movement of his brother’s staff matched stage-for-stage the outcome of the battle in the valley. When there was no longer a shadow of a doubt, they must have hurried as fast as their legs would take them to roll a stone out for Moses to sit on. Whatever happened, those hands had to stay up!
It must have been quite a sight to see on that hilltop, had any of the soldiers lifted their eyes. Three men, one sitting, two holding up each of his hands with all their might, hour after endless hour until the sun went down (see Exodus 17:8-13). Maybe the psalmist thought in part of this historic moment when he wrote, “I lift my eyes up to the hills — where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:1-2). Hands on a hill up, help from heaven down.
It’s certainly what I was thinking of now as I tried out the same thing. Well, that, and “strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees” (Heb. 12:12). Moses may not have known what lactic acid was, but I do. And I can still feel it. But what gets me is, I don’t know how many hilltops I’ve stood on with my hands hanging by my side, watching a battle rage in the valley below — sometimes not my own — and stood helpless. Clueless. Or worse, indifferent.
“Bear up the hands that hang down,” John Wesley said, “by faith and prayer, support the tottering knees. Have you any days of fasting and prayer? Storm the throne of grace and persevere therein, and mercy will come down.”
This is a workout that I need more badly than those 33-minute rounds on the elliptical. And, dare I say, one with far more significant results.
By Amy at Sharing a Cuppa