January 6 I Monday

Genesis 16-17

Matthew 5:27-48

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”   —Psalm 20:7


When we pray, things happen. Whether or not our prayer is answered in the manner that we want, prayer always brings us into results. An Old Testament picture of prayer is found in Exodus 17. The Israelites had left Egypt, where they had been enslaved for many years, and met their first enemy—the Amalekites—in the wilderness who was out to destroy them.

Moses instructed Joshua to organize an army to go and fight against the Amalekites. Then Moses, with the staff of God in his hand, went up on the hillside along with Aaron and Hur. When Moses held his hands up, the Israelites prevailed against the Amalekites. But as Moses’s hands grew tired and the staff started to droop, the Amalekites would begin to overcome the Israelites. Over time, Moses’s hands grew tired from holding up the staff of God. Aaron and Hur took a stone, had Moses sit on it, while they each held up one of Moses’s hands until the battle ended. Joshua overwhelmed the Amalekites and the Israelites won.

God responded to the Israelite’s victory by telling Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven” (Exodus 17:14). God especially noted for Moses to let Joshua know the battle was won not because of Joshua’s strength but God’s. In response to God, Moses built an altar and called it, “The LORD is my banner,” saying, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the LORD, the LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation” (Exodus 17:16). Although the word “prayer” is not explicitly used, the image of prayer is there with Moses’s hands lifted up to the throne of God.

On the mountain, as Moses had his focus on God and not on the problem, they discovered victory in the valley. When our focus is on the eternal, the temporal falls into place. When our focus is on heaven, the events of earth fall into their right perspective. When our focus is on the victor, we begin to experience the victory.

For Moses, with his sight on God and his hands reaching up to heaven, the events of earth ceased to frighten him. As the chorus of a hymn goes,


Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.


When crises arise and hardships come, may we turn our eyes from the things of this earth and focus on the eternal and the victor—God.


Prayer: Almighty Eternal One, help me to turn my eyes and focus on You, knowing that my victory comes from
You alone. Thank You, Lord.

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