If You Can Control the Battle With Your Hands Like a Traffic Signal, Don’t You Think People Would Get the Point?
They complained against Moses, and Moses said they were really complaining against God
Q: How to get it through thick heads that God is really working through Moses?
A: “As long as Moses kept his hands lifted up, the Israelites prevailed, but as soon as he would let down his hands the Amalekites prevailed. When the hands of Moses were heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Then Aaron and Hur, one on each side, supported his hands, so that his hands remained steady until the sun set.” (Exodus 17:11-12)
It has to be one of the most vivid object lessons of all time. Moses raises and lower his arms to control battle as though a traffic cop. Why do I think of the Dr. Seuss book ‘Go Dog Go?’ It took those Israelites no time at all to dismiss passing through the Red Sea as “just one of those things.” Maybe it’s because Moses was not the blustering blowhard of Hollywood devising, but like Numbers 12:3 says, “the meekest of all the men on the face of the earth,” not exactly bland, but not the swaggering packaged charisma that folks unquestioningly follow?
Did the object lesson work? Maybe I will start collecting such experiences, seeing that we have entered Exodus in our scheduled weekly reading. I think they cool off in Leviticus but pick up again in Numbers—the Israelites constant bellyaching with Moses, not realizing that it was really with God they were finding fault.
None of these Israelites had a problem with God, they probably would have told you. No—they and God were tight. The problem was with that vanilla upstart, who here and there could pull a miracle out of his hat, that claimed to represent him. Always it is that way—the glitch is the divine/human interface.
“Have him raise his hands and I’ll have his guys win, lower his hands and they’ll lose,” God must have said. “That ought to get it through their thick skulls! Oh, and if his hands get tired—raise them up for him. Got it? It’s not him—it’s me! He can’t even hold his hands up!”
Still, all the time they are castigating Moses, not getting the point that it is Jehovah doing the heavy lifting, not he. Yet, if they don’t get the point, you would think they’d be afraid to cross a guy that could control battle by raising or lowering his arms like a traffic signal. No on that count, as well. Moses raised a fine point when he said to Jehovah, as though tearing out his hair: “What shall I do with these people?” They were real pieces of work.
And yet they differ not so much from people today, who can’t be satisfied on any account. Nor do they differ from those in Jesus’ day, whom he likened to children, posing the question:
Now, to what can I compare the people of this day? They are like children sitting in the marketplace. One group shouts to the other, ‘We played wedding music for you, but you wouldn't dance! We sang funeral songs, but you wouldn't cry!' (Matthew 11:16-17, GNT) You can’t satisfy them.
How ridiculous people must look to the one who created them all—ever spurning his counsel while ever demonstrating themselves incapable of devising their own—splintering over ever-expanding grounds for division, hashing out at absurd length the most picayune matters and managing to implement nothing beyond patch over patch over patch. Isn’t this another example of lessons so simple that the huffy people think it not worth their time and separate themselves out? “He’s treating us as though we were children!” they harrumph, oblivious to how the collective record of humanity demonstrates they ought to be treated as children.
This thread will grow, I think—maybe I’ll do something with it someday. I’ll be logging all the instances of when they gave Moses a hard time. I’ll have to start by going back a few chapters, since their grumbling over him has already started. It took no time at all for them to dismiss crossing through the Red Sea as “just one of those things.”