Recently I had the opportunity to help one of the preschool Bible teachers on Sunday morning at our church. The kids were studying the book of Exodus. The story on this particular week was when the Israelites were battling the Amalekites and Moses stood on top of the hill, above the battle, with the staff of God in his hands. He raised his hands high in the sky during the battle and as long as his hands were raised, the Israelites were winning. When he grew tired and his hands lowered, the Israelites began to be defeated (read more of the story in Exodus 17:8-16).
The teacher shared with the kids that Moses had his hands raised as he prayed to demonstrate the Israelites need for God’s help.
I’ve learned a few things from this preschool lesson.
First lesson was the day after I helped out in the class. I was in the car running errands and listening to a Paul Baloche CD (The Same Love). As I listened, I was reminded of hands being raised in praise during worship.
Now, true confession here…this girl grew up Southern Baptist and, when I was growing up, hands raised all the way to the sky were frowned upon. I guess the thought was that one should not be distracting. While that is a good goal- to not distract others in worship- I don’t think raised hands in true worship should be distracting. I mean shouldn’t the focus be on God for everyone?
What hit me as I listened to Paul Baloche sing was that raising my hands up like Moses did in the story was like a toddler holding hands with his Dad as they walk together. You know what that looks like…the little guy is stretched to his tippy toes to help him reach the palm of his Daddy’s hand. He isn’t worried about what he looks like- he knows he needs his Daddy’s hand. Maybe they are in a dangerous parking lot or maybe in a crowded mall or maybe they just are enjoying being together. Regardless, his little arms are outstretched to reach to his Daddy.
That is my new take on hands raise in true worship. Our hands represent our dependence…our need..for the strong arms of our heavenly Father. I need those strong arms to help me as I walk through dangerous paths in this life, meander through the crowds of life and just take a stroll on a beautiful day with my heavenly Father.
I don’t know if this Southern Baptist Girl will be able raise her hands up to the sky in public worship…it is just hard for me…but if you happen to be stopped at the red light next to me and happen to catch me, radio up, singing and worshipping as I traverse around town…you might just see me in some unabandoned worship.
Second lesson I’ve learned in the last few weeks from this portion of the Bible is the importance of asking help from others. Verses 12 says:
12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
The battle was long and Moses got tired.
Man I can relate.
For about two months now I have been in a war with various battles to fight. No, not a physical hand-to-hand combat war but parenting battles, marriage battles, financial battles, employment battles….ugh…. I am tired.
Verse 11 tells us:
11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.
When Moses kept his hands, holding the staff of God, raised then things were going well. Moses needed to stay focused on God and His guidance as the battle raged on. The battle was still there but it went better for God’s people when God was the focus.
Moses was human and his arms grew tired after a while. I can only imagine…my arms are tired too!
So he had his friends help him. They took a stone and put it under him so he could sit down and then they held his hands up for him. They helped carry the load. When we are fighting the battles of life, we need Aarons and Hurs to help us! We need our friends to come alongside and help us to keep our focus on God and to help us follow through with what He has asked us to do. It can be a bit humbling sometimes to admit that we can’t hold our hands up any longer. It can be hard to say “I need help”. But we need to do it. We need friends who will give us biblical counsel, we need friends that will pray for us and encourage us. We need friends who will sit with us and help hold our hands.
The battles can be long and hard. Make sure you have an Aaron and a Hur in your life to help.