Because of his job, my dad was pretty well known in our hometown. Over my lifetime, I have heard many good things said about him as well as some bad. But the most memorable thing that I ever heard said of him came from a man who walked up to me at Dad’s funeral with tears in his eyes and said, “He helped me when I couldn’t even help myself.”
As I write this, it has been eighteen years ago this week that I heard those words. Yet few weeks go by that I am not reminded of the man’s statement. Is there any better way to be remembered than as a person who helped someone who couldn’t even help himself?
AN EXAMPLE OF HELP
We don’t get very far in biblical history before we come across a couple of guys who helped a man who couldn’t help himself in a particular moment. The men are not nearly as famous as the man they helped, but their actions were invaluable. As the old saying goes, they came through with flying colors.
The man they helped was none other than Moses. You don’t have to know much about the Bible to know that Moses was an A-lister on God’s team. If there were a Top Ten list of important people in the Bible, Moses would probably be on that list.
Yet there came a moment when Moses needed help. As important as he was, he needed someone who could help him when he couldn’t even help himself.
And out of that moment, we see one of the most beautiful scenes from what we refer to as the Old Testament.
We see two guys holding up the weary arms of a man whose strength was depleted. We see those two supporting actors stepping up to the plate when Moses simply could not go on without help. And we see them hanging in there until the job was done.
Perhaps you know the story, but for those who don’t, I’ll try to briefly recap it:
The Israelites had been attacked and went to battle with their attackers. As the leader of the Israelites, Moses’ role was to stand at the top of the hill and hold his staff in the air. Pretty weird battle plan but it worked.
So as long as Moses held the staff raised, Israel had the advantage. But as soon as he dropped his arms to rest, the advantage shifted to the enemy. If you’ve ever had to hold your arms up high for any length of time, you know that they get tired pretty quickly even if your hands are empty. That accelerates at warp speed if you are holding something.
Let’s stop right here and do a little experiment: Grab something like a mop, broom, walking cane, or whatever and stand, holding it up above your head for as long as you can. I’ll be waiting right here when you get back.
OK, you probably didn’t even give it a try, but you get the point. It doesn’t take long for the weight to wear you down to the point that you just can’t do it anymore, even if you must.
Fortunately for Moses, his two companions recognized that he needed help, and we see this beautiful picture unfold:
“Moses’ arms became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they 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.” (Exodus 17:12-13)
Let’s stop here one more time and just visualize that scene of two guys unselfishly holding up the two arms of a weary Moses for hours until sunset. Breathtakingly beautiful to me!
LESSONS ON HELP
There are many lessons from this story that are still relevant to you and me today:
1. Even one as great as Moses needed the help of others. Why would any of us think we would be any different?
2. God placed people in Moses’ life at this crucial time who could help in his time of need. He has not stopped doing that. Not only does God provide people to be of help to us, but He also places each of us in positions to be of help to others. How sad it is when we miss those opportunities.
3. Supporting roles in the kingdom of God are just as important as the starring roles. Not everyone is called to be a Moses. But we can all be an Aaron or Hur. And those roles are just as crucial!
4. There will be times when we face a weight that is too heavy to bear alone. The weight of the staff became too much for Moses to bear without help. Certainly, God can get us through any situation, but we must cooperate with His provision. And His provision is often through people helping people.
5. Aaron and Hur recognized the need and responded. In this story, we do not see Moses asking for help, but his friends jumped right in without the ask. That should serve as a model to us.
6. Help is only effective if it is accepted. It certainly took a measure of humility for Moses to accept this help. Refusing needed help is am indication of pride in our lives that should be confessed and addressed. I confess right here that it is a major struggle for me.
7. Aaron and Hur stuck with Moses for the duration of the battle without letting up or taking a break. Another model for us.
As we wrap up our look at the story of Moses, Aaron, and Hur, I am reminded of another example of two arms that grew weary from the weight they were carrying: the arms of Jesus, whose hands were secured to the cross with nails.
Arms and hands that carried the full weight of our sins.
A weight that only he could bear.
A weight that accomplished something on our behalf that we could not accomplish for ourselves.
So while the statement, “He helped me when I couldn’t even help myself” may be one of the highest tributes we can ever pay to or receive from others, it is woefully inadequate when it comes to Jesus.
For He alone saved us when we could not possibly save ourselves.
And for that, we each should now raise our own arms and hands in praise!