I watched a dance performance of some youngsters with learning difficulties. They were doing spectacularly well, keeping together with their moves. They all had their eyes fixed to the back of the hall. Looking behind me, I saw the teacher raised up on a platform right at the back, doing the actions for them to copy and keep in time with. It kept them right on task, and they gave a brilliant performance.
In Exodus 17:8-13, Moses went up on to the hilltop with Aaron and Hur to pray, while Joshua led the first battle of the new Israelite army. While Moses lifted up his hands in prayer, God was evidently answering, as the Israelites would then prevail, but if Moses sagged, the army would struggle. I wonder though, if more was going on? The men of the Israelite army would no doubt be able to see Moses on the hill above them, and the outline of his raised arms. With one eye on Moses, and the other on the battle, their confidence was raised when they knew they had prayer backing, and their performance improved accordingly. Moses wasn’t modelling the fighting, but he was modelling the achieving. And he was fighting his own battles with fatigue. Don’t we all need an Aaron and Hur to support us when we get weary?
They were all in the fight together, each playing their part, just with different roles. Yet in v13, the victory was credited to Joshua, not the prayers. It was Joshua not Moses who was deemed the victor; just as the dancers, not the teacher, took the applause.
Jesus has done it all for us. He modelled a life we could imitate, died to set us free, sent us the Holy Spirit to empower us, and constantly watches over us and prays for us now. Yet how he applauds our victories, and delights over our every achievement. He is thrilled when we overcome sin, forgive someone, and demonstrate his love and his life. Doesn’t that inspire you to want to press on into him, become more like him, grow deeper in love with him, and do more to please him? And of course, we’ll want to support other too, when they get weary. Knowing he’s there supporting and cheering us on, that makes all the difference. Keep your eyes on him. That’s how to win the battles.