This story comes as Moses and the Israelites are in the desert. They have been unhappy with their situation. God has provided manna and quail for food and water from the rock at Horeb (also known as Sinai).
Refer back to Exodus 4, where God turned Moses' shepherd staff into a snake. This is the staff that is referred to in Exodus 17:9. In Exodus 4:17, God told Moses, "But take this wooden staff in your hand. You will be able to do miraculous signs with it."
The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites. Moses called on Joshua to choose some men to go fight. Moses said he would stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in his hands.
The Amalekites (Amalek was the grandson of Esau, Jacob's twin brother.) The Amalekites were semi-nomadic people and known warriors, but not noble warriors. They never fought a fair fight.
As long as Moses held up his hands, holding the staff of God, the Israelites were winning. When he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When his hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under Moses to sit on. Aaron and Hur held his hands up.
Joshua and the Israelites overtook the Amalekites. God promised to erase the memory of the Amalekites from the earth. As we continue to go through Old Testament history, we will encounter the Amalekites several times. (See the story of Esther. Haman descended from the Amalekites)
Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner.
This is actually a fairly short story. It is easy to overlook the significance of what this story reveals to us. Moses stood in complete surrender to the Lord. His upheld hands stood as an appeal to God for help. Without his surrender and the help of his fellow Israelites, they would not have won the battle against the Amalekites.
There are two warm up questions to choose from for this week.
This is a relatively short story, and can be read directly from the Bible. For effect, you can have the students hold their hands up above their heads for the entire time while you teach the lesson.
It is important to make sure the children understand the connections between stories. In this story, the important connection is that the Amalekites descended from Esau and that Moses' staff was the same one God did miraculous signs with during the exodus from Egypt.
You can use a large wooden stick or staff to illustrate what Moses was doing while you teach the lesson.
Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud Exodus 4:2-4, 4:17, 17:8-16
First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?