Israel fights its first military battle in Exodus 17. Having just come out of Egypt as a nation of slaves, they are viewed by the surrounding peoples as both a potential threat and yet vulnerable to attack. Amalek is the first to go on the offense. This fight reveals what all the battles will ultimately show: that they are more spiritual than physical.
God fights for the Israelites. This is evidenced by the fact that the Israelites are winning whenever Moses' hands are stretched up toward heaven, as if in prayer or witness. Whenever he lowers his hands, however, Amalek begins to prevail (vs. 11). As always, a lot is resting on Moses' shoulders!
When Moses' arms grew too weary to keep them overhead, it becomes clear that he needs a little help from his friends. Moses sits on a rock, and Aaron and Hur take positions on either side of Moses, holding up his hands for him. With Moses now able to lean on his friends for support, the army of the Israelites continues winning until they are victorious over the forces of Amalek.
What is the message for us today from a passage like this?
First, we should always be aware of the spiritual realities behind the physical battles we face. There is more at stake than strength and numbers and odds. God makes the most decisive impact in our struggles.
Second, whether we are a leader or a supporter, our role is essential. A leader must continue to call upon God and encourage "the troops." His or her strength and example is looked to by followers. Leaders cannot do it alone, however. They need lieutenants and assistants who can come alongside and help lift them up when they are tired or weak.
What role do you have to play? Are you a leader who must keep calling out to God and blessing the people? Or are you an assistant who must give vital support to the leader so that the work may be done? Don't underestimate your significance! All three - Moses, Hur, and Aaron - were essential for the Israelites to be victorious that day!