I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends
April 9, 2016
-by Megan Castellan
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some men for us and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the sun set. And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the sword.
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a reminder in a book and recite it in the hearing of Joshua: I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called it, The Lord is my banner. He said, “A hand upon the banner of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
-Exodus 17: 1-16
If Hollywood wanted a great screwball road trip movie, I heartily recommend condensing the stories of the 40 years in the wilderness into a script. It has everything you need in a quality motion picture: drama (oh no, here comes a foreign army to kill us!), pathos (oh no, Moses is sad at the people’s behavior!), comedy (Oh no! Israelites start losing whenever Moses’ arm drops!) and all the scope of human experience. It would be a classic.
One recurring theme, however, is the idea of community. Moses spent a lot of time shepherding the Israelites through the wilderness, and guiding them through their various misadventures along the way. During this series of stories, the sense of Israel as a community of God’s faithful people all together really took hold. Prior to the wilderness, God had conversed with one or two ‘special’ people: Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Moses, etc. For the most part, God was concerned with those individuals alone. However, once the Israelites leave Egypt, the entire community shares in the relationship with God–not just Moses. God is concerned with everyone’s welfare now; not just one or two people.
So Moses now has a whole community of people he has to shepherd along, and teach the ways of God. He also has a whole community of people to help shoulder the load when he gets tired or frustrated (which, according to Exodus and Numbers, is often). Moses appoints a posse of prophets to help him settle disputes in the camp. He appoints Joshua to help him keep the people in line. And in this particular story, he literally has two people hold up his hand when he’s having a long day.
Faith is not meant to be experienced solo. Faith is given to us in community, so that we have people around us to learn from, to share with, and to support when the going gets tough.
Reflect on the people who are your support system in your life. Reach out to your best ‘support system’ people today, and thank them. Write a note, make a call, send a text to the people who hold you up when you need it.