Life of Moses: Prayer for Victory

Peter Barnes: Exodus 17:8-16

(24 March 2019)


God provided His people with food (Ex.16), with water (Ex.15:22-27; 17:1-7) and with protection (Ex.17:8-16). John Currid’s view is that Moses is not praying but holding up the rod (NIV and ESV have ‘staff’) which is the symbol of the presence of God – 17:5-7. As Charles Wesley put it, we are to ‘wrestle and fight and pray’.

1. We usually need to combine prayer with action.

– 17:8-9; note Deut.25:17-18. Moses sends out Joshua (‘Jesus’) to fight. ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ (Matt. 6:11) and ‘If any man will not work, neither shall he eat’ (2 Thess. 3:10). The two things are true at once.

– Neh.4:7-8, 9. Exodus 14:13-14 is the exception.

2. We need to persist in prayer.

– 17:10-11. Standing and holding up his hands was the usual way in which Jews prayed in public – Ps.28:2; 63:4; 1 Tim.2:8. He needed help, as we all do, so Aaron and Hur (probably the grandfather of Bezalel from Ex.31:2; 35:30; 38:22; and possibly the husband of Miriam, according to Josephus).

– Mary Queen of Scots said that she feared the prayers of John Knox more than she feared an army of 10,000 men.

3. We need to support each other in prayer.

– 17:12. As Moses tired, Aaron and Hur held up his hands, and Israel prevailed – 17:13. Paul seeks the prayers of his readers – e.g. 2 Thess.3:1-2. Charles Spurgeon: ‘My people pray for me.’

-Who won this battle? The Israelites – 17:8-9, 13; Moses – 17:11. Aaron and Hur – 17:12. Recorded in 17:14. Prayer goes with action; we must persist in prayer; and we must support each other in prayer.