We sit in an interesting hour. 2011 is barely days old & already there is a ‘summons’ of sorts that has the attention of many. Many things, many words, many events are being held up to our eyes.
Yet one thing has been repeatedly held up to my view. I have found myself continuously drawn back to Exodus 17:8-16 – the story of Moses & the people of Israel fighting their very first battle was free people.
The enemy, Amalek, attacks them. Moses goes to “stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in hand.” (Ex 17:9) During the course of battle, Moses arms naturally grow weary from holding up the staff of God.
This is an issue. For everytime Moses lowers his hands, Amalek the enemy prevails, yet when Moses lifts up his hands holding the rod, Israel prevailed. Enter Aaron & Hur who each take hold of Moses arm, one on one side & the other on the other side. Israel overwhelmed Amalek & wins.
It struck me how this is a prophetic picture of an Apostle. The word apostle actually comes from the time of the Greek & Roman Empires when specially assigned generals would go with the army to conquer & take new land. This ‘apostle’ was assigned to bring the culture of the Empire/Kingdom to this new land. The Greeks & Romans realized that if they simply entered a new land conquering it with military strength, the people in time would revert back to their old ways. So to make the land truly Greek or Roman, the apostle was sent to institute the culture, the ways & the values of his Empire to a new people.
Moses was God’s Apostle. He was used to make a people of the Kingdom of Egypt solely for the Kingdom of God. Now he is at war, holding up the “rod of God” on the hill by the edge of the battle zone.
Isaiah 11:1 says “There shall come forth a rod from the stump of Jesse, & a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” Jesus would be like a rod from the stump of Jesse. This picture communicated the coming of Jesus.
It struck me that as Moses held up the rod, so the Apostle holds up Jesus, the rod from the stump of Jesse.
It was out of the stump of Jesse, a tree that was cut down, that something grew. It is in the ‘cutting down’ that Jesus grows. It is important to understand that when Jesus gives us himself & breathes His word upon us, this word is life & will grow in us & through us.
As Moses holds his arms up, the text says his arms got heavy. The Hebrew word used here for heavy is the same word used for glory. When we hold up Jesus, our arms can tire because we hold up the glory of God & the glory of God is a weighty thing!
I submit that part of the weightiness, heaviness that comes, is because every word of Jesus is strong. Part of what makes something strong is challenge. The questions, the oppositions are the challenge to the Word.
God wants us to understand that it is important challenge comes to us, because He wants to raise up a people who will put their life on the line for the Word who became flesh & dwelt amongst us. (John 1:14)
No human being will lay his life on the line if they are not convinced something is stable, strong & can withstand assault. So God will allow conflict on any word He gives us, including on Jesus himself, the Word. As challenge comes we personally discover in our own experience the strength of that word.
We see it opposed & see it stand firm. We see that God has not changed His mind or heart & that we did hear from the Lord & it wasn’t just an emotional mountain top experience; it is the Word of the Lord.
This is an important part of the journey for every apostle. And this is a battle.
Lifting Jesus up is not done alone. There is a company, a band of brothers to do this with. And when Aaron & Hur also hold up their arms to the arms of Moses, the people of God fighting, struggling, longing to prevail, do! When Moses, Aaron & Hur got breakthrough, so did the people of God!
At the end of this battle, Moses builds an altar to the Lord & makes a declaration that keeps echoing & echoing within me. “The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” (Ex 17:16)
Each generation has a moment to lift Jesus up & as they do so, help their brothers & sisters win the war.
This is our time… our time to find out for ourselves how strong, how stable, how firm is this Word given to us. And so like Israel, we are invited through the challenge to look up to Jesus, the pioneer & perfecter of our faith. (Heb 12:2) What we look at in this hour will feed what will become strong in us.