Exodus 17:11 – Sustaining God’s Leaders

Not long after the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, the Amalekites came against them in battle. In Exodus 17:11-12 we read:

“And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

“But 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.”

This is a very interesting account. As far as I can remember, there is no other account like this in all the scriptures, i.e. that God’s leader influences the battle by keeping his hands raised.

Even so, I feel strongly that there is an important lesson here, which is why it has been mentioned in the scriptures.

The important message – at least one of them – that I get from this account is that it is important that we sustain leaders whom God has chosen. Over the past 26 years I have sustained the prophet of God, and other Church leaders and have seen the blessings that come from doing that.

It’s easy though to sustain God’s leaders when we agree with them. But what about when we don’t agree with them? What about the times when our personalities clash, or when they make mistakes (they are just men and women), or when they are wrong.

There are many accounts in the scriptures of leaders whom God has called, ordained, and anointed who turned out to be bad leaders. We don’t know all the details as scriptural accounts are not a full life history, but from what we do know in many cases they were good men when they received the call, then later on they made poor choices or their hearts changed. Examples of this include Solomon, Saul, Eli and Judas Iscariot.

Some of the leaders who God chose and anointed were good leaders but made mistakes. Examples of this are Aaron (making a golden calf), and David.

In each of these cases, however, those who respected the position which these leaders held, because they were chosen and ordained of God, were blessed. A great example of this is David and Saul. Saul was chosen of God and anointed to be king. Later on in his life, when Saul turned from God and even tried to kill David unrighteously, David respected the fact that Saul was God’s anointed leader.

David had opportunities to take Saul’s life, but wouldn’t. David even continued to serve faithfully in his responsibilities, despite being on the run from the king! In short, David sustained Saul because of the virtue of his calling from God.

The result of this was that David was blessed of the Lord.

If we look at some of the other examples, we’ll see the same thing.

In my own life, I have been blessed as I’ve sustained my Church leaders who have been called of God. This includes my elders quorum president, my bishop, my stake president, the area presidency, the apostles of the church, and of course, our First Presidency.

Normally, sustaining Church leaders hasn’t been difficult for me at all. Most of the things which they have taught and requested have been things which I have also agreed with and have understood. Just yesterday, however, the First Presidency made an announcement which went against everything I believe. Even so, I will continue to sustain the prophet and his counsellors.

As I pondered my dilemma yesterday, one of the quotes from Brigham Young came to my mind:

“We are in the midst of the ocean. A storm comes on, and, as sailors say, she labors very hard. ‘I am not going to stay here,’ says one; ‘I don’t believe this is the “Ship Zion.”‘ ‘But we are in the midst of the ocean.’ ‘I don’t care, I am not going to stay here.’ Off goes the coat, and he jumps overboard. Will he not be drowned? Yes. So with those who leave this Church. It is the ‘Old Ship Zion,’ let us stay in it.”


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