Oddities

Bible study is enlightening, but sometimes it’s also hard, or downright weird. Have you ever read something and stopped to wonder just why that detail was included? Have you ever read something and just laughed at how absurd something sounds? I cannot stop laughing when I read in Exodus about Moses confronting Pharaoh with the plague of frogs, “Frogs will jump on you.” This is what it says in almost every translation I have read. “Frogs will jump on you.” Frogs everywhere sounds like a pretty gross problem, and smelling their rotting carcasses sounds even more disgusting, but, “Frogs will jump on you,” just sounds a little hilarious. You’re just walking down the street, minding your own business, and out of nowhere… (Welcome to my brain. It is a terrifying jumble of stuff, but it’s never boring here.)

Another Moses story that always grabs my imagination is when Moses must hold his arms up during an entire battle against the Amalekites: “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.” Exodus 17:11-12 NLT

This sounds like a terrible battle plan. Why would the outcome rest entirely on the arm strength and physical endurance of one man? Why is this detail important enough for it to be included in the Bible account? Can you see Moses standing at a vantage point overlooking the battle, already tired from traveling and incessant complaints from his people but holding the staff up over his head? This sounds like a simple task, but after a few minutes, it gets hard. Your arms start shaking, your shoulders ache, and you just want to put your arms down to rest for a moment to stop the ache. But if Moses put his staff down, his people died. Can you imagine the despair he must have felt at such an impossible task? Do the physically impossible, and your people win; fail, even for a second, and people you are responsible for will die. I have no idea why God would choose such a strange setup. I imagine it was to teach Moses and the people around him an object lesson.

Not even Moses could do it alone. His entire leadership of the Israelite people depended on the people around him, sometimes because of his fear, but mostly because the job was too big for any one person. When he first went back to Egypt, God gave him Aaron to be his speaker because he was afraid to go to the Israelites alone. When he was judging disputes among the Israelites after they fled Egypt, his father-in-law Jethro told him he was doing too much and suggested appointing judges to handle small disputes so that Moses himself only had to handle difficult cases. In this battle against the Amalekites, the job was again too big – impossible to accomplish without help. He physically needed Aaron and Hur to lift him up. One man alone cannot accomplish God’s work, however simple the task may appear.

We all need Jethros and Aarons and Hurs in our lives. We need a reminder not to try to do everything ourselves. We need people to come alongside us and lift us up, or rather we need to allow people to help us. We must be willing to admit that we cannot do life alone, and we must be willing to be vulnerable enough to accept the help. I am horrible at this. I hate to admit defeat. I hate to admit that I can’t possibly accomplish my to-do list, and I hate to be a burden to someone else. You know what? I am an idiot. I can’t expect to only offer help without also being helped. If you ever find me being obstinate about this fact, please be my Jethro. And if you are my Aaron and Hur, thank you, and I’m sorry I’m such a pain in the rump about letting you do the task God has given you.

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