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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Hands Held High

By Louise Lankford-Dunlap
July 20, 2014

You can read about one of Scripture’s little-known heroes in Exodus 17:8-16.

We don’t know for sure who Hur was or how he was connected to Moses, Aaron and Joshua. We aren’t told his age or position, and we don’t know anything about his life.

Maybe Hur was a young man during the events of Exodus 17 and would have loved to be in the midst of the battle with the Amalekite army; or perhaps he was an older man and no longer considered fit for fighting. Some commentators have suggested Hur could have been the son of Moses’ sister, Miriam. Talmudic tradition suggests Hur’s sudden disappearance from the narrative in Exodus is explained by his murder. These claims cannot be proven.

Hur’s identity remains sketchy. But from the brief glimpse we get of him, we see him performing a simple but important task. His past or future is not important; he was in the right place at the right time when needed and faithfully did his duty.

Without Hur’s commitment, the Israelite army led by Joshua would have suffered defeat in their battle with the Amalekites that day. They were in their first battle since leaving Egypt and inexperienced in fighting. Could they hope to win this battle against these descendants of Esau, a warring people known for their unfair tactics of attacking the aged and weary from behind?

From their observation post on the mountain, Moses, Aaron and Hur watched the conflict. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but as soon as he let them fall the enemy prevailed. (Have you ever tried to see how long you could keep your hands above your head without help — without something to prop on or someone to help brace your arms?)

Imagine the dilemma there on the mountain. It wasn’t enough to hold up just one hand. If that had been the case Moses could have alternated which arm was in the air and given the other a break. It took both of Moses’ hands raised to win the battle, thus requiring more than one person to do the job.

We don’t know whose idea it was, but the three men devised a plan that resulted in victory for Israel. Moses sat on a large rock, and Aaron and Hur stood on either side holding up his hands until the going down of the sun. I can imagine how tired they must have been, just standing there all day, shifting positions, trying to keep Moses’ arms from slipping from their grasp as they watched the battle.

Could Hur keep up his part? It wasn’t so hard at first, but I can almost feel the tension in his neck and back as the day wore on. What a monotonous but important task — so important that God instructed Moses to write it in a book to be rehearsed in the ears of Joshua, perhaps to remind him that victory came from team effort. Though it was behind the scenes and not as glamorous, Aaron and Hur’s job was just as important as Joshua’s.

The only other time we hear of Hur, Moses left him in charge with Aaron to guide and direct the people while Moses again ascended Mount Sinai to commune with God (Exodus 24:14). Hur’s faithfulness in obscurity proved he could be trusted in public.

Hur didn’t make it into the roster of heroes in the 11th chapter of Hebrews, but I believe he is every bit a hero as those who did. History records Hur’s faithfulness was rewarded when God granted his grandson, Bezalel, a key role in the making of the tabernacle (Exodus 31:2).

Hebrews 12:12 tells us to lift up the hands that hang down. Holding up another’s hands typifies supporting them in prayer and in other tangible ways — encouraging, standing beside, bearing burdens, sharing resources. As Paul told Timothy, it can also mean “exhorting, reproving, instructing and correcting” (2 Timothy 4:2) — anything to support another, especially those in leadership. It isn’t always an easy job and can sometimes be costly, yet we are commanded, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, ESV).

My father was a preacher, and I often saw my shy, quiet little mother slip out of her seat and onto her knees as Daddy entered the pulpit. Many times she remained in prayer until his sermon was over. She didn’t get, nor did she want, praise or recognition for the results of the sermons he preached. But to give credit where credit is due, I believe many of Daddy’s successes were the results of Mother’s prayers for him.

My mind goes back to those who have supplied similar blessings for me as a woman in ministry. I’ve had many Hurs (or “Hers,” and some “Hims” too) contribute their support in my life. Some I am aware of, and some I may never know. But I do know that in eternity I will celebrate many victories with those who held up my hands in my times of struggle.

How encouraging when someone has whispered, “I’m praying for you,” or “Call me if you need me,” or “Let me help.” What wonderful reminders that our battles are too fierce to fight alone.

One of my Hurs was a wonderful him. Hershel, my dear husband of 62 years, never saw me as competition but stood with me, prayed for me, and encouraged me as I preached, taught, counseled, sang, played instruments, or whatever was needed during our 50-plus years in the ministry. I like to think I was also a Hur to him.

Another Hur was an uncle under whose ministry I was saved as a child. From time to time I received needed instruction from him. I cherished his insight and godly wisdom. I once said to him, “Uncle J.D., I hope I always feel God’s presence.” He replied, “You won’t! You must learn to walk by faith and not by feelings.” What good advice to a young gung-ho preacher girl!

And how could I ever forget Norma — another of my Hurs. With our three little girls’ frilly dresses and a husband who wore white shirts in our early ministry, piles of ironing needed to be done every week. Dear Norma often came to our home and spent hours over the ironing board so I could have more time for my ministerial duties.

Nor can I omit my godly parents and our times around the family altar, their keeping me involved in church, Mother’s tears and Daddy’s firm hand.

Though now in my 80s and no longer active in full-time pulpit ministry, I still need and cherish those who stand by me and hold me up in prayer as I minister by way of the printed page. And I seek to be a happily obscure, behind-the-scenes team member, an encourager and a prayer partner for those in ministry as they continue to lead in battle for the Lord.

 I want to be a “Hur” kind of her — a hand-holder-upper until victory comes and the sun goes down for me.

LOUISE LANKFORD-DUNLAP has been writing since she was a teenager. Her daughter, Jodi Detrick, is the Women’s Ministries director for the Northwest Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God based in Snoqualmie, Wash.



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