Every time I hear the chant, “Go! Fight! Win!” I am transported back to high school. I grew up in a small town in Southwest Kansas. Friday nights in the fall were all about football and cheering our local team to victory! I feel certain “Go! Fight! Win!” was and still is a staple at most sporting events. As weird as this may sound, I was reminded of this cheer when recently reading about an Old Testament battle.
Most of us are familiar with Moses and his difficult job of leading the Israelites to the Promised Land. An 11-day journey took 40 years! It seems the Israelites had much to learn before they were ready to handle what God had in store for them. Although I have read this story many times, one particular event caught my attention. I’m always amazed at how God reveals truth to us as we read His Word. What happened so many years ago can have direct application for us today (Matthew 24:35, Isaiah 40:8).
In Exodus 17 we find the Israelites traveling in smaller groups to Rephidim. The terrain was difficult. Moses was tired. His people were exhausted. They had been trapesing through the desert for over 40 days, and now they couldn’t find water. To say everyone was a bit irritable was an understatement. To make matters worse, the Amalekites saw their vulnerability and began attacking those who were lagging behind (typically women and children) Deuteronomy 25:17-18 . The situation was dire, and the people needed help.
Sound familiar? I know we are not literally stranded in the wilderness, but many educators today feel as if they are stuck navigating difficult terrain while under attack! The continual aftereffects of the COVID pandemic have left endless challenges, causing educators to feel weary and, perhaps, a bit irritable! As was the case for the Israelites, when we are most vulnerable, Satan attacks. We, too, need help.
Our story picks back up as Moses responded to the attack on his people. While there are not many details, we know Moses did not cower. He didn’t give up hope, and he didn’t complain. He saw the threat, and he took action. The Bible says, Moses commanded Joshua, “Choose some men to go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.” Exodus 17:8
I’m tempted to stop right here and interject, “Go! Fight! Win!” Moses did just that, but notice before the fight, Moses chose to GO to His source. He was not about to enter this battle alone. He took the staff of God with him. The sanctified staff with which God parted the waters of the Red Sea (Exodus 14:15-16) and broke open the rock in Horeb for water (Exodus 17:5-6) gave Moses confidence for the battle ahead.
We can also have confidence to face our challenges. At times we can be so overworked that we just want to give up or disengage. Our stamina to fight the battle is lacking. It is at this very moment we must GO to our source and hold the staff of God in our hands! The staff here represents God’s power and authority. What is your staff? Is it prayer? God’s Word? Memories of God’s faithfulness? All three? Whatever it is, when God is our source, our strength is renewed! It makes me want to shout, “Go! Fight! Win!”
Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Proverbs 30:5
Moses didn’t just go to his source, he also engaged in the FIGHT. You are going to love this part! After Moses gave Joshua his marching orders, here is what happened.
Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon 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 17:10-13
Notice God didn’t eliminate the adversary. We all know He could have and would have been justified in doing so. With one strike, God could have destroyed the Amalekites, but He didn’t. For victory to take place, two things had to happen: prayer and obedience. Joshua and the Israelite army had to fight as they were commanded. In other words, they couldn’t’ sit back, do nothing, and expect Moses to pray them out of the situation. Likewise, Moses couldn’t stand on the hill and expect his army to win the battle in their own strength. It was his responsibility to pray. The fate of Israel in battle depended on Moses’ intercession. When he prayed (i.e., held up the staff in his hand) Israel prevailed, and when he stopped praying Amalek prevailed. This was a perfect example of God’s power and man’s effort working together.
As we FIGHT our everyday battles, the same is true for us. While God can miraculously deliver us, more often than not, He expects us to do everything humanly possible while calling on Him to do what only He can do. As Tony Evans says in his Bible commentary on this passage, “To prevail against enemy attack, you must both make contact with heaven and take responsibility for your actions.”
It isn’t easy for us, and it wasn’t for Moses. Sometimes God puts people in our lives to hold up our arms when we get tired. Though this was Moses’ work to do, it was more than he could do by himself. Moses alone could not win the battle of prayer. He needed others to come by his side to strengthen him.
Perhaps this is true for you as well. Navigating this school year has been quite difficult for many. Are we asking others to come along side us in prayer, to hold up our arms when we are weak? Remember, we can’t fight this battle alone, especially if we feel too weak to pray. Maybe you are the one God is calling to do the lifting. Is there someone in your sphere of friends who is struggling? Do you know people who need you to stand by their sides and hold up their hands? Seek them out and offer to pray them through this battle. None of us can successfully engage in spiritual warfare alone.
Although God doesn’t take us out of the battle, He sustains us as we pray and lean on our spiritual brothers and sisters in the Lord. It is all about being engaged in the fight. Go! Fight! Win!
And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake, for it is the Lord your God who has fought for you. Joshua 23:3
The story of Moses and the battle with the Amalekites ended well. As we read earlier, it took all day, but eventually the Israelites recorded a WIN! The Bible tell us Moses built an alter to commemorate the victory and named it Yahweh-Nissi (which means “the Lord is my banner”). This was how Moses proclaimed God’s leadership and protection. A banner is something that identifies and unifies a particular group of people. The Israelites’ saying, “The Lord is my Banner,” was a way of identifying themselves as the unified followers of the Lord God. Through it all, God received the glory. It wasn’t Israel is my banner or Moses is my banner or Joshua is my banner. It was Yahweh-Nissi—THE LORD IS MY BANNER.
We all experience various battles in our lives. Sometimes when it is over, all we can do is exhale! However, like Moses, when we WIN, we should tell others about our success. Let’s hold up our own banner and let others know where our allegiance lies—in the Lord who gives us the victory!
Let’s not be overwhelmed by our circumstances. We can GO to our source, FIGHT with prayer and action, and WIN the battle! The victory is ours!
For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory. Deuteronomy 20:4
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
GO! FIGHT! WIN!