Why did Moses lift his hands during the battle against the Amelekites?

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During a battle with the Amelekites, Joshua, the commander of the Israelite army, gained victory only when Moses was lifting his hands. And when Moses became weary, Aaron and Hur put a stone under him and held up his hands (Exodus 17).

The lifting up of the hands has generally been regarded by Bible scholars as the sign of prayer. Throughout Bible times the custom of lifting up one’s hands in prayer was observed by worshipers. There are some that say that the lifting of hands signified that Moses was a commander and chief of army but the context of this story shows that Moses was actually engaged in earnest prayer to God for help and victory.

The question has been raised as to why Moses did not continue to pray even when his hands were weary. It could be that when Moses dropped his hands because of fatigue, he rested also from the mental concentration necessary to prayer.

So, to impress upon Israel the importance of intercessory prayer, God permitted success and failure to alternate accordingly. At the same time God wished His people to learn that their success was to be found in cooperating with His chosen leaders.

While Israel under Joshua’s command fought for its very existence, Moses’ two companions supported him. This support was not only physical but probably spiritual as well. They continued with him in intercession until final victory was gained, toward the close of the day.

From this experience we learn a great spiritual lesson. We learn that prayer and supplication are essential to victories over our enemies. So long as the hands are outstretched and the soul exerts itself in prayer, our spiritual enemies will be overcome. When prayer is forgotten and one’s connection with God is lost, the spiritual enemies will win. On the other hand, the church is assured of victory over all the powers of evil so long as its members and leaders are people of prayer.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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