17:12-13 Moses' arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur ... stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle. I can't help but think of the verse in Proverbs, "A chord of three strands is not quickly broken." This is a great principle for both leaders and their fellow workers. Leaders can't do it alone, they are only able to defeat the enemy through joint effort. None is more important to the victory or dispensable! See also 18:22, where Moses is learning ministry is a team effort all around!
17:14 "The Lord instructed Moses, "Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven." I am learning that so many different goings-on in the Bible that seem random are tied together. For those of you who are already a bit familiar with the story of King Saul, if you read 1 Samuel 15, you will find out part of why he was so displeasing to the Lord and one of the many reasons he was rejected as king. Here God gave a promise of destroying all the evil Amalekites, and later He tried to use Saul to finish the job, but Saul totally disobeyed.
18:24 Moses listened to his father-in-law's advice and followed his suggestions. This is a short but critical peek into Moses' character. Had God just parted the Red Sea using most of us, we would think we were above advice. Maybe many would feel important deciding matters all day and not want to give up control and power over the people. But we see Moses is anything but impressed with himself, which is why God chose him for leadership in the first place. In fact, there is a verse we'll come across in the next couple months (Numbers 12:3) where God describes Moses as the most humble person on earth! What an amazing compliment! I wonder if Moses was proud of that assessment of his character? ☺
Rules Litmus Test: Do you ever wonder which laws you're supposed to live by? Do you ever have Christians or churches trying to enforce a list of rules on you and you wonder what the balance is between freedom in Christ and obedience? Here's the litmus test, according to Jesus:
22:37-40 Jesus replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments." Applying this to your everyday life, it comes down to 2 simple questions. Will this thing I want to do be in keeping with loving God will my whole heart? Will it be in keeping with loving others? That is the "law of love," and that is what is required. Even the Ten Commandments follow the Law of Love." It is important to remember that our motive for following rules is equally important with our adherence. The motive in all things is love. Not earning approval, not being better than someone else, not keeping ourselves out of the hot seat. Only because we love God and we love His people.
Pharisees: As you read about the Pharisees, remember that there is at least a little Pharisee in all of us! We must ever be on guard against hypocrisy, doing things for show, and placing legalistic burdens on others. As a general rule, I have found that the less a person thinks they display any Pharisee tendencies, the more at risk they are of being a Pharisee. Remember, Jesus called the Pharisees "blind guides" and "hypocrites." That means that they didn't know they had the character problems they did. It is always better to allow ourselves enough honesty to see where we are hypocrites, blindly accusing others of things we are guilty of ourselves. That is the only way to guard against this dreaded disease!
One of the great ways this has been brought to my attention in one aspect of my life is through my relationship with my kids. When they are ungrateful for all I do for them, or they don't spend quality time in relationship with me, taking me for granted, or they disobey me for the thousandth time on the same issue, I'll get to feeling really put out and then God will gently nudge me and say, "I feel the same way when you do that to Me."
If you want to know for sure, do what I did with my kids when they were young. Ask them to point out any areas in your life where they see you doing somethign different than what you say or teach them to do. But be ready to be teachable. Kids are hypocrisy hounds!
Questions for reflection:
What are some areas of your life where you've tried to "go it alone"? Ministry? Care-giving? Projects at work? Managing a household? Spiritual warfare? How could you benefit from inviting others to "hold up your arms" and share the load of part of your burden? Sometimes, we don't have options for help, but I have found that many times, I either think I can do it better myself, or I don't want to burden someone else, or I don't want to give up control. God made us to do things in community, and when we hoard the work, we get tired, weighed down, and we miss the blessing of the great victory.
What are some of the things people do that you are critical about? Ask yourself, "Do I do these things to anyone else? Do I do them to God?" Often times, the things we are most critical about in others, especially our kids, are weaknesses in our own life. Instead of being more patient with them in a shared area of weakness, we become critical. Why is that?