It is my increasing belief that we live in an increasingly self-centered world. The rise of Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms has fueled a society that makes a “star” out of the common person. Personally, I have never taken a “selfie.” And, assuredly, I never will. I do not post my every movement on Facebook. No one is going to ask me to sit for an oil-painting.
There are statues and monuments all around us. Many of these, I suppose, are well-deserved. I, along with millions of others, have visited places like the Lincoln Memorial, Monument Avenue in Richmond, Virginia and the busts inside the U. S. Capitol. I admire the workmanship of the sculptor, and reflect on the life of the honoree. I have enjoyed, and will continue to enjoy seeing these great monuments.
Many of these statues represent, perhaps, our heroes. American heroes, world heroes, personal heroes. Heroes do heroic exploits. You might say that they were ordinary people who did extra-ordinary things.
In 2009, the greatest bluegrass band in all the land, Balsam Range, recorded a song entitled “Somewhere in Between”. The gist of the song is that most of us “fall” or live our lives, “in between”. We’re neither rich nor poor, we’re not famous or infamous. We don’t set the pace, or blindly follow. We’re just common, steady, ordinary, folks who mind their own business, work hard, and go home at night and get a good night’s sleep.
You might say that the world is chock full of UNSUNG HEROES.
In Exodus 17. Amalek, the nation of Esau’s grandson, has troubled Israel enough. It is time to act. Moses tells Joshua, “Choose men for us, and go out and fight Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”
As Joshua did as he was instructed, Moses, along with Aaron and Hur go up to the top of the hill. Aaron is the brother of Moses. Details about Hur, however, cannot be found.
Verses 11-13 “So it came about that when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”
Anyone vaguely familiar with the Old Testament knows of Moses. Moses is the kind of man they build statues of. Charlton Heston portrayed Moses rather well in the movie The Ten Commandments.
But no one makes a movie featuring Aaron. And Hur? No chance. But without Aaron and Hur that day, I would argue, Israel is defeated and perhaps the whole tide of history is changed.
Moses is lifting the staff with hands outstretched towards the heavens. This staff is the same one God had told Moses to strike a rock with, which then produced water. It is the staff that Moses used in the presence of Pharoah, a visible object that accompanied miracle after miracle. There was no magic in the staff. The staff did not procure or deliver miracles. It represents the power and authority of Almighty God Himself.
Try holding an object in the air for an extended length of time. Moses simply could not hold the staff raised to the sky for hour after hour in his own strength.
In both the movie and book Unbroken, Louis Zamperini was forced to hold a heavy wooden beam over his hand for 37 minutes. He describes his ability to do this without dropping it as “something inside of me, I don’t know what it was.”
When Moses dropped his hands, Israel was forced back, and Amalek began to prevail. He needed help, so Aaron and Hur, who had climbed the mountain perhaps just for this moment, stood on either side and held Moses’ hands and the staff, in the air, UNTIL THE SUN SET.
Exodus continues with the experiences of Moses and Aaron. Moses, perhaps most importantly, engages the presence of God and returns with the Ten Commandments. Aaron goes on the become the first High Priest of Israel.
But Hur? Hur fades into oblivion. There is only speculation about his life thenceforward. This was, it seems, his “one shining moment,” his “fifteen minutes” of fame. Hur is truly an unsung hero.
But God our Father knows him. He knew him then. He knows him now.
There are at least three lessons for us here.
The first one is the posture of Moses (and of Aaron and Hur) before the Father. Moses has his hands lifted up. It is the posture of surrender. An acknowledgement of the presence of a superior who has authority, or power over you. As Moses (and Israel) “surrendered” to God, God supplied victory. As we “lift our hands” in surrender to our Father, I believe that we are also acknowledging our helplessness and His strength to overcome our enemies as well, and to give us victory in our daily lives.
Secondly, as Moses, Aaron and Hur stand together, they stand in unity. They are linked together in one purpose. Ecclesiastes 4:12 tells us “a cord of three strands is not easily broken.” The Book of Acts is explicit in recording how powerful the disciples and the early church were as they were unified.
Psalm 133 describes the results of unity as being good and pleasant. It flows downward. I need not tell you what a blessing it is to experience unity in any relationship: marriage, friendships, co-workers. Unity brings victory.
Lastly, Aaron, Hur and Moses remained in their positions “until the sun set.” In other words, as long as it took. They saw it through until it was accomplished. Can we be this committed? Can we endure as long as it is necessary? They did not take a “break.” Can we finish the race and finish it strong?
I believe there are many unsung heroes among us. There are many fellow servants of our mighty King that never beat their own drum. They do not take selfies of their achievements. They do not post their accomplishments on Facebook. They do not write a daily autobiography. They seek neither fame nor attention.
They do not need to.
Quietly, faithfully, they walk daily with their Lord. “And your Father who sees you in secret will repay you.” (Matthew 6.4) (In fact Matthew 6.1-18 should be required reading for this blog!)
Well, that is enough, for now.