Grades 3-6 Lesson for Sunday School: 
Moses:  Not by Might

Teacher’s Notes:  This week we’re going to meet a new enemy of Israel, the Amalekites; a new hero, Joshua.  And we’re going to find the Israelites in their first military battle.  As usual, God has some important lessons for His people to learn, as they face this new enemy.  They’re going to find that there’s more going on than just what meets the eye.  And most importantly, they’ll see that it’s not military might that wins the battle.  It’s prayer and the power of the Spirit that saves the day!   

Opening comments/story:

Ask your students for a volunteer who thinks he or she is pretty strong.  Bring them to the front of the class, and ask them to hold both hands up in the air until you tell him/her to put them down. 

Have that student continue to keep their hands in the air while you take time to learn this week’s verse.  If you see the student struggling to keep their hands up, ask the other students what they might do to help him/her keep their hands up.  If they don’t have any ideas, suggest that the student sit down while his/her hands are raised.  If he/she is still struggling, ask for two volunteers to help hold the first student’s hands up

Today we’re going to find Moses, Aaron, and a man named Hur up on a hill, while the Israelite army is fighting in the valley, below.  But we’re going to see that what goes on up on the hill is what determines the outcome of the battle; not the strength of the army.  We’re going to find Moses raising his hands in the air.  And Aaron and Hur are there to support him, literally.  Keep in mind, as we go through the passage, that these men are eighty years old!  After having watched your classmate try to keep his hands raised for a few minutes, can you imagine how difficult it must have been for an eighty year-old man to keep his hands up for an entire day?  Let’s get into our lesson and see what made Moses raise his hands and keep them in the air all day.

Memory verse:  (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves.  And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”  Zechariah 4:6b

Opening prayer:  Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today.  And thank You for the many lessons we can learn through studying the life of Moses, in Your Word.  Please help us today, Lord, to have ears ready to listen and hearts ready to learn about You.  Amen.

This Week’s Lesson(Moses:  Not By Might from Exodus 17:8-16)

In every battle big or small, physical or spiritual, there’s a lot more going on than just what meets the eye.  Yes, there are the soldiers who seem to be doing all the hard work.  But behind those brave soldiers, if you know where to look, are often faithful prayer warriors.  And behind those prayer warriors is a mighty God, who ultimately determines the outcome of the battle. 

Today, we’re going to find Moses and the Israelites being confronted by their first military enemy, since leaving Egypt.  An Israelite army will be put together to fight this enemy.  But we’re going to see that it wasn’t the strength, bravery, or cunning of this army that won the battle.  Let’s take a look at our passage, and find out who really was responsible for the Israelites’ first big victory. 

(I would recommend reading the entire passage first, then we’ll go back through it in detail.)

(Exodus 17)
8Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
 9And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
 10So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
 11And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
 12But Moses hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
 13And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
 14And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
 15And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi:
 16For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
This is not a very long passage, and it sounds like it was not a long battle, lasting only a single day.  But there were some very important lessons for the Israelites to learn through this battle.  And they still apply to us today.  So let’s take a closer look, and see how this battle was won.
First of all, to get a better look at just what the Amalekites were up to, we need to read what Moses wrote about them later, in the book of Deuteronomy. 
Deuteronomy 25:17-18
17Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt;
 18How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God.
 19Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.
What had the Amalekites been doing to the children of Israel?  (allow the students to answer)  They were at the back edges of the Israelite camp, picking off those who were having difficulty keeping up with the rest; verse 18 refers to them as “all that were feeble…faint and weary.”  That’s very much like what a lion does when looking for prey.  They watch the herd to determine which ones are smallest and weakest; then they go after those animals, since they can’t put up as much of a fight.  That’s just about as low as one can go…killing those who are most vulnerable and defenseless.  But that’s exactly what the Amalekites were doing.
And did you notice what the end of verse 18 said about the Amalekites’ opinion of God?  They were not afraid.  We find later in the books of Moses, that as the Israelites approached the Promised Land, the stories of how God had opened the Red Sea and provided for His people had spread far and wide.  So it was unlikely that the Amalekites hadn’t heard about God.  They had just decided that they wouldn’t be concerned with what He might do.  Perhaps they thought He wouldn’t be paying attention.  But you can be very sure that when someone attacks one of God’s children, especially the weaker ones, they will have God’s full attention. 
The Amalekites were attacking, and Moses knew he needed to respond.  So he put a plan in motion.  An army needed to be assembled, and a leader for that army needed to be chosen.  For some of you, this leader’s name may sound familiar.  His name was Joshua.  Does anyone recall any other stories in the Bible about Joshua?  Before Moses died, he chose Joshua to be the next leader of the Israelites.  It would be Joshua who would lead them through the Jordan River; and Joshua would lead them into battle.  His most famous victory is probably the one at Jericho, when God knocked down the walls, and the army then marched right in.  No doubt Joshua had learned from experience that God would provide a miraculous victory.  And perhaps on that day, he remembered this one we are studying today…his very first battle as a military leader. 
The Bible doesn’t tell us why Moses chose Joshua to lead the army.  It only tells us, in verse 10, that Joshua did just what Moses told him to.  Obedience is always important to God.  Perhaps God knows that being a good leader means being a good follower, as long as the instructions are coming from a godly source. And Joshua followed Moses instructions carefully.  He chose men for the army, and went out the next morning to fight against the Amalekites. 
How do you think Joshua felt about taking this new army into battle?  Had they had time to prepare?  Do you think they had proper weapons and training?  We don’t know what they would have had to fight with.  But we do know that the Israelite army had a secret weapon.  Does anyone remember, from when I read it earlier, what that secret weapon was?  It was three old men standing up on a hill!  But those three men were not defenseless.  Moses had something with him.  Do you remember what it was?  Yes, according to verse 9, he was carrying “the rod of God.” 
What have we seen that rod do in Moses’ hand before now?  Let’s see how many things we can name:

When Moses told Joshua he was going up on a hill, and that he was taking the rod of God with him, that would have told Joshua a great deal about what he could expect.  It meant that the power and authority of God, Himself, would be guiding him as he led the army into battle.  But I wonder if he really knew how much Moses, and his rod, would affect every moment of the battle.  Let’s look, again, at verses 11 and 12 to see what effect Moses, and the rod had on the battle that day.
 11And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
 12But Moses hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
Perhaps Joshua was very brave.  Perhaps he was big and strong.  But none of that mattered on this day, and in this battle against God’s enemy, the Amalekites.  What was it that determined how the battle went?  These verses don’t tell us what exactly Moses, Aaron, and Hur were doing with Moses’ hands raised, up on the hill.  But most Bible scholars assume that they were pleading to God to give Joshua and the Israelites the victory.  They were praying!  James 5:16 tells us, “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”  And I imagine that these three men were praying with all the faith they had. 
But even the most fervent man is just a man.  And if you remember our little experiment earlier, a man’s arms are going to get tired after a while.  And when Moses’ arms came down, what happened in the battle?  The Israelites would begin losing the battle.  In order for the Israelites to win, Moses needed help.  And that’s what Aaron and Hur did.  They supported Moses, so that he could continue lifting that rod toward Heaven, so that their people would not be defeated.   For an entire day, Aaron and Hur helped Moses to keep his hands lifted to God.  And according to verses 12 and 13, “…his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.  And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” 
The battle could not have been won without Joshua obediently leading the Israelite army, as Moses had directed him.  Joshua was the man on the front lines, fighting against the enemies of God.
But Joshua would not have won the battle without Moses being up on that hill, raising the rod of God’s mighty power over that valley.  And Moses could not have kept his hands raised toward Heaven without the help of his brother and friend, Aaron and Hur.  They supported Moses when his own strength had given out.   
But how do two men holding up the hands of another win a battle?  Not by might the might of Joshua and his army, not by the power of three old men; only with the help of Almighty God!  That’s why, in verse 15, Moses called God by a new name…Jehovah-nissi.  That means “the Lord is my banner.”  Why do you suppose he chose that name for God?   When an army goes to war, they always have a flag to signify who they are fighting for.  It is their banner.  Moses wanted everyone to know that God is the One they were fighting for.  And in return, it was God who had fought for them. 
And God didn’t want them to ever forget this battle.  So He told Moses, in verse 15, to write down in a book a record of this battle, so they would never forget; and so that it could be read again and again to Joshua, especially when he took over for Moses as leader of the Israelites.  God wanted them to remember that although they had a part in the victory, it was ultimately God who had won the battle for them.
And that’s the way it often is with our battles today.  We may not see a physical army, covered in armor, and swinging swords at us.  But every day we fight battles against enemies we cannot see.  Does anyone know what or who those enemies might be?  It might be our own sin nature, tempting us to do things we know we shouldn’t. 
Or the enemy might be Satan and his demons.  Ephesians 6:12 says, “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”  And when we’re on the front lines, fighting against Satan’s warfare of doubt, fear, temptation, and even physical danger, it’s so important to have other Christians praying for us, just as Joshua had Moses, Aaron and Hur. 
It’s also good for us to remember that when we’re not the ones fighting against those wiles of the devil, that we can be the ones up on the hill, supporting our Christian brothers and sisters with prayer.   How does that make you feel, to know that someone else’s victory against sin or Satan might depend on whether or not you are praying for them?  That’s a lot of responsibility, and we need to take it very seriously.
But all of the front line fighting, or behind the scenes praying doesn’t do a bit of good unless our banner has the right name on it.  We need to have the same banner flying over us that Moses did:  the banner of God Almighty.  Only then can we be sure of winning whatever battles we may find ourselves in.  God promises to help us.  Do you remember 1 Corinthians 10:13?  It says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  If God allows us to find ourselves in the middle of a battle, He’ll always provide a way out.  But that promise is only for His children – those who are fighting under His banner. 
What name is written on your banner today?  Are you out there fighting for yourself; do you have your own name written on that banner?  Or worse yet, in Luke 11:23 Jesus says, "He who is not with me is against me.”  And that would mean that those who do not claim God on their banner have Satan’s name instead.  What a tragedy that would be!  And it would ultimately mean defeat, because God will be the winner, in the end.
Yes, there’s no better way to go into battle than with Jesus on your banner.  It’s a guaranteed victory, for Romans 8:31 and 37 say, “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?  … Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”  God was with Moses and Joshua, as they defeated the Amalekites.  And He promises to be with us, today.  We can be more than conquerors through Jesus Christ.  Is He your banner?
Closing Prayer:  Heavenly Father, thank You for the lessons we can learn by studying Your Word.  And thank You for Your promise to help us gain the victory when we put our trust in You.  If there’s anyone here today who does not have You as their banner, open their eyes and hearts so that they will invite You to be on their side.  Amen.
Class Discussion/ Activity

Through the years, many great military leaders have been successful in battle by studying the battle plans of victorious leaders in the past.  We have an opportunity to do the same thing.  We can study Joshua and Moses’ battle plans, and be victorious, too.  And here’s the plan:  if selected to lead, be obedient, and find prayer warriors to back you up; if you know someone else who’s fighting a battle – perhaps a missionary heading to the mission field, step up to be a prayer warrior for them.  And always keep in mind that it’s not our might or power that will win the battle.  The battle is the Lord’s to win.  So be sure He’s on your side!

(Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks

  1. The Amalekites attacked the children of Israel.
  2. Moses chose Joshua to lead the Israelite army.
  3. Moses stood on a hill with the rod of God in his hand.
  4. When Moses became tired, Aaron and Hur helped hold up his hands.
  5. God told Moses to write an account of this battle in a book.

  True or False
1. The Amalekites attacked the weakest of the Israelites.  (true)
2. Moses led the army of Israel into battle.  (false – Joshua led them while Moses prayed.)
3. When Moses’ hands went down, the Amalekites prevailed.  (true)
4. The Amalekites feared God.  (false – the Amalekites did not fear God)
5. Aaron and Hur helped keep Moses’ hands up when he got tired.  (true)

Devotional Poem:

Not By Might

Not by power, nor by might;
But by God’s own hand.
He, alone, can save the day
By His mere command.

Just obey.  Follow His lead.
Then watch what He will do.
For when you’re facing battles,
He can win each one, for you.


Lisa DeVinney, March 2020