The Bible is sometimes nuts. It’s a bonkers book full of bonkers stuff going on and the most bonkers aspect of it is that it’s all true. It’s not a great work of fiction, it’s the definitive non-fiction book. It’s the world’s number one history book, and as I really study it I find myself consistently entertained and regularly amazed. Yes, I also get deep wisdom from it, it builds me up and guides me and teaches me and reveals God’s goodness and love to me. But, I think it’s okay to say that it also just entertains the heck out of me!
As I continue my Moses Moments series, one such entertaining moment comes in Exodus with a story I’ve never heard in my entire life. The people of Israel are still out there shuffling about under the leadership of Moses. We all know the story of their 40 year trek through the wilderness. But during those 40 years some truly crazy and cool stuff happened. One such thing hits here in Chapter 17. A guy named Amalek and his people attack the Israelites. Moses sends his right hand man, Joshua, and a group of soldiers to go out and fight these attackers. Joshua and the men head out to fight, and Moses, Aaron, and a man named Hur go to the top of a hill to watch the battle. Once they’re up there, Moses, the staff of God in his hand, figures something out about this battle.
Exodus 17:11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.
So let’s just be real here, this is awesome. I really wonder how Moses figured it out. Did he like, scratch his head and realize that when he raised his hand the battle swung in Israel’s favor? Or was it just like a divine knowledge he was given that if he held his hands up the battle would be won?
Either way, there’s something to realize here. Holding up your hand gets tiring. It actually gets tiring really fast. If you don’t believe me, then try it. Put your hand in the air and just keep it there. How long did you last? How long do you think you could last? A minute? Five? Ten or twenty? Thirty or forty-five even? An old school sword and shield battle could rage on for days or weeks. Imagine old man Moses on a hilltop trying to do it, and as you can really picture, he starts to get tired.
Exodus 17:12 But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
I don’t mean to downplay the importance of battle, and I realize that people died in that battle, but I can’t help but smile when I really close my eyes and picture this situation. This old man, sitting on a rock, his brother on one side holding his arm up and (what most study guides seem to agree is) his brother in law on the other side holding his other arm up. It’s comical, in a way. And yet it’s also just awesome. It’s this awesomely weird display of God’s power, and to me it’s a reminder that we don’t serve a bland or boring God. There’s a million simpler ways God could’ve given favor to the Israel forces in this battle, but for some reason this is the time He decides to make an old man holding up his hands to be the deciding factor between victory and defeat.
I really take two important things away from this moment in Moses’ life. Firstly is what I touched upon in the above paragraph. God’s not boring, and the Bible isn’t boring either. I wasted so much of my life thinking the Bible was a boring book. I’ve always owned one, and rarely did I ever bother to open it. Why? Mainly because I viewed it as a dusty old book full of rules and boring old stories that I’d already heard a hundred sermons on. If I could pass a single message back in time to my younger self, I’d tell myself to read and study my Bible. I get so much out of it, you guys know I do, I write about it constantly just how blessed I am by this incredible book! But, it’s more than that. I’m also entertained by it! It’s a fascinating, incredible, fun, funny, heartbreaking, exhilarating, creative, challenging, intriguing, mysterious, powerful, beautiful book. The more I study my Bible the more I’m convinced that the main thing wrong with modern day Christians is that we don’t read our Bibles enough. So much changes for us as we start to make the Bible a part of our lives, as we start to really get into it and start to really know it. And it’s not a punishment! It’s not a boring undertaking. You run into all kinds of crazy stuff in this book. It’s just bonkers the stuff you read. I was reading in the book of Judges and the good guys catch this bad guy and then they cut off the bad guy’s thumbs and his big toes. I paused and laughed, because it just comes out of nowhere. They chase him, they get him, and then chop chop chop chop, goodbye thumbs and big toes. THAT’S CRAZY! It turns out, that guy was fond of cutting off people’s thumbs and big toes, and thusly he got repaid in kind. This is just one of an endless number of places in which the Bible will entertain and surprise you while also teaching you a lesson. In this case the lesson is don’t go around cutting off thumbs and big toes and not expect to someday have that happen to you!
The Bible is incredible in every way. I love it so much. Every once in a while I go a few days without reading it, and without fail those are the worst days of my week. I just want to encourage anyone and everyone, get into your Bible. It’s not a punishment to read it, it’s not a dusty old tome full of lifeless history lessons. This book changes lives, it saves souls, it reveals God, and it entertains the heck out of you in the process.
PRAYER AND CLOSING
Father God, today I’m thankful that you’re not a boring God. For too long I wasted years thinking of you and your people and your ways as being boring, I avoided the Bible because I thought it was boring. Lord, you’re anything but boring. You’re the God of thunderstorms, the God who created ant-eaters, the God of sunsets. You’re the God of beauty and excitement. I love how your word shows this aspect of you. God, why did he have to raise his hands to win the battle? I love that you made this the way it played out! It’s intriguing and hilarious and just one of an endless number of things that makes your word so much fun to read. You know me, you’ve known me for all time, you saw me thousands of years before I was born. You knew who I’d be, and I thank you so deeply that you somehow included things in your word that seem crafted just for me. Your word is incredible, it appeals to every person, because the book is the story of you. Thank you Lord for not sticking us with a dry textbook, but for making our holy text a thing that’s packed with wisdom, love, excitement, creativity, and so much more. Father, I ask you today to awaken a hunger in your people for your word. Let each one of us awaken tomorrow with a hunger that nothing else can fulfill, a deeper need to read and experience the Bible. Bring us further into your book, Lord, thus bringing us deeper into relation with you. Thank you for all that you are, and for all that you set up for your people. I feel you moving in my life today, and I’m so thankful that I’m a part of your people. Thank you for loving me, Jesus, thank you for dying for me on that cross. I pray all these things in the precious name of Jesus, amen.
I love you guys. Today’s blog was a fun reminder for me just how varied and interesting the Bible is. You may think you know all the stories, but I assure you there are things in here that you’ve never heard in any sermon. This is a treasure chest, and I encourage you so strongly to start digging deeper into it and discovering all the wonders it contains. I hope the week is off to a strong start for everyone! I’ll see you tomorrow for the continuing Moses Moments series!