Why Accepting Help is as Important as Helping

Hand Reaching to Help Another

Being Willing to Give and Receive Help

Something I like do when reading historical accounts from the Bible is to imagine being there in the midst of the story. I like to think about what it must have been like for characters in the Bible. Obviously my imagining certain aspects of a Bible story are just my imagination, and not ideas I can prove, but it helps me to relate better and gain more understanding. So when I write lessons I’ve learned from stories, it’s often from a perspective of what it MIGHT have been like to be a fly on the wall watching things unfold. So, take a moment and read the following few verses. Imagine what it might have been like to be Moses.

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Exodus 17:10-13

Imagining the Scene

His arms were shaking. Exhaustion was written on his face as beads of sweat dripped down his forehead. Moses just couldn’t do it anymore. His arms began to sink, and the battle began to turn. The Israelites began losing the fierce battle between the Amalekites. Again, out of sheer determination, Moses lifted his arms up. Joshua’s army once again began to get the upper hand on the Amalekites. But it had been hours! How long could one man hold his arms up? Within minutes of his short rest, Moses began shaking again and his arms began to lower again.

“Here, Moses, sit down.” said his brother Aaron.

What was Aaron thinking? It was taking all of Moses’ concentration just to keep his arms up. If he sat down, there would be no way he could raise his arms again and the battle would be lost. Moses, with closed eyes, shook his head. Then before he realized what was happening, he found himself being lowered onto a boulder. Relief poured in, and his arms began to drop.

“I can’t do this, Lord! I can’t hold my arms up any longer!” Moses cried to himself as he sank down onto the boulder.

But then, two sets of hands grabbed each arm and held his arms for him. Moses looked up. Aaron stood on one side holding Moses’ arm while Hur stood on the other side holding the other arm. Finally, Moses’ aching muscles could rest. The shaking stopped, the searing pain abated as his two friends held his arms for him so the battle could be won.

With Moses sitting, the men could stand and comfortably hold Moses’ arms up by propping their own arms against their chests. Now their whole bodies could take the brunt of the weight of Moses’ arms, rather than relying only on the strength of their biceps to do the job.

For hours, the three men remained thus until the final blow was made, the last striking of the sword, and the trumpet sounded victory for the army of Israel. They had won!

And finally, three exhausted men returned from the top of the hill to celebrate with Joshua and the army for the victory God had given them that day against the Amalekites.

As they climbed down the hill, I can imagine Moses looking at his two friends and saying, “Thank you, guys, I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you.”

Aaron and Hur, probably rubbing their sore muscles, probably just grinned and continued down with Moses to participate in the celebration that was going on in the Israelite camp.

A Small Contribution?

As I was reading this story, it struck me how crucial Aaron and Hur were to this battle. Yet, they didn’t wield a sword or carry a spear. They just held up the arms of a good friend.

But holding up the arms of Moses was exactly what was needed for victory to be ensured. As long as Moses’ hands were up and outstretched, the Israelites were winning against the Amalekites. When they went down, Israel began to lose the battle. Hmmmm…

I had to ask myself, “Why?”

Why did it matter for Moses to have his hands up for there to be victory? Have you ever thought about it? God could have easily allowed the Israelites to win the victory without the need for Moses’ arms. Yet, it’s what God asked of Moses during this key battle.

As I sat there thinking about the story and pondering why God would ask Moses to hold his arms up so Israel would win the battle, I began to think about Aaron and Hur again. They were there to hold up the arms of Moses because Moses couldn’t do it alone.

I think that is the point.

No “Lone Wolfers”

I think God asked Moses to hold his arms up to teach not only the Israelites an important lesson, but to teach us something too. God was teaching us that we can’t always “do it alone.” Sometimes we need the help of others to be victorious. What if Moses had refused the help of Aaron and Hur? What if he insisted on doing things himself? Israel could have been defeated if Moses had not allowed Aaron and Hur to help him.

It must have been humbling for Moses to grow weak and tired. Before all of Israel, his arms shook and began to drop. The battle would turn. Moses would raise his arms again as he began to sweat profusely, aching with pain as he tried to keep his arms lifted up, but once again his own human limitations brought his hands down. How humiliating! Moses was physically too weak to do what God had asked him to do.

And sometimes so are we.

God calls us to work together, not alone. We are to work WITH God, rather than rely on our own strength or understanding. We need Him to help us accomplish great things. And we need each other. God planned a body of believers, a group, a church to reach the world. He didn’t create a system of “lone wolf” Christians to do His work.

Sometimes He does use one person to accomplish a task, but usually He calls a group together to do His work. He didn’t just call Peter to change the world, he called twelve men to be his disciples. Paul didn’t travel alone, he had his fellow missionaries there to support him in his ministry. God wants people to work TOGETHER to accomplish his task. Moses tried to do it alone but was unable to keep his arms raised so the battle could be won. He wasn’t able to do it…

…Until two friends came and stood beside him to lift him up.

Lessons Learned from Aaron and Hur

Aaron and Hur were not in the battle with Joshua. They were “too old.” Remember, Aaron was Moses’ older brother. Moses himself was over eighty years old and past his prime. Aaron would have been older, maybe close to ninety years old. He was way past his prime. Then there was Hur. Jewish tradition holds that Hur was the brother-in-law of Moses, Miriam’s husband, and most likely would have been older than Aaron. Who knows? Hur could have been pushing one hundred years of age. Both of these men would have been considered too old to be of value in the battlefield, but they were the means to victory for Israel.

Why? Because they did what they could. They held up the arms of a friend in need.

Maybe you consider yourself useless in the kingdom of God. Maybe you think, “what can I do?” Maybe you think you are too old, too young, too ignorant, etc. But that’s not true. God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

Ordinary “useless” people have turned the world upside down because they followed God and did what they could for His kingdom.

A group of fishermen turned the world upside down when they followed Jesus. A shepherd boy became Israel’s greatest king. God took a slave and made him the prince of Egypt. He took a cowering farmer and turned him into a general of 300 men who conquered a vast army. He took a despised tax collector and turned him into an author of a book of the Bible. Ordinary “useless” people have turned the world upside down because they followed God and did what they could for His kingdom.

So, how about you? How can God use you?

Maybe He’s simply calling you to hold the arms of another like Hur and Aaron did. This could take the form of praying for a friend in need, writing a note of encouragement, taking a meal to someone who’s sick, etc. God uses “small” things to accomplish great victories. Just ask Aaron and Hur. Their small contribution was the difference between victory or defeat.

Do What You Can and Be Willing to Let Others Help

So whether you are a Moses who needs the help or needs to admit you need help, or you are an Aaron and Hur who seemed useless in the battle, do what you can. If you need help, humble yourself and ask for it or accept help if it is being offered. If it is giving aid, then give it. Be there to hold up and encourage a fellow believer in Christ.

So… what is God calling you to do today, to help or be helped? Look for ways to hold up the arms of someone else and be willing to accept aid when it is offered. Your willingness may be the difference between victory and defeat for another.

Work together, encourage one another. Do what you can do together and victory will come.

For Further Study:

Read Exodus 17:8-16.

For context, understand that this battle took place soon after the Israelites had left Egypt as they were traveling to Mount Sinai, before the ten commandments had been given.

Q. How does it describe Moses’ hands after Aaron and Hur began to hold his arms up?

Q. How can you steady another by holding them up?

Q. What are some things you can do to hold up a friend who may be in need right now?


The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”

10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill.11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

15 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. 16 He said, “For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”

Exodus 17:8-16

For Further Study:

Read Exodus 18:13-27.

This event took place soon after the battle with the Amalekites.

Q. What lesson did Moses need to learn again?

Q. How can trying to do things on your own weary you until you can’t do what you are called to do?

Q. Are there areas in your life where you need others to come alongside you and help hold you

Q. up like Aaron and Hur, or like the men who helped Moses judge Israel?

Q. Often it is difficult to except the help from another because we don’t want to admit we need the help. How can this pride stand in the way of being effective for Christ?


The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.”

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good.18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. 21 But select capable men from all the people–men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain–and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.

Exodus 18:13-27


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