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Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

Exodus 17:8-15

Story Summary

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, the Israelites would not have won against the Amalekites. 

What You Will Need

Supplies
wooden staff to display when you teach the story

Resource Sheet

Moses Lifts His Hand Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts Moses lifting his hands to God during the battle with the Amalekites

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

There are two warm up questions to choose from for this week.

  1. Why do people hold their arms in the air when singing to God? It is a way to show you are surrendering to God. Listen in our story today when someone raised their arms in surrender to God.
  2. Have you ever helped your parents do something really important? Like fixing a car, or helping around the house? Today, we are going to learn about some people who helped Moses do something really important. Because of their help, the Israelites won an important battle.

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

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.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Exodus 4:2-4, 4:17, 17:8-16

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • Who led the fight against the Amalekites? (Joshua)
  • Who were the Amalekites descendants of? (Esau)
  • What did Moses do during the fight? (hold his hands up, holding the staff of God)
  • What do you remember about Moses' staff from a previous story? (God turned Moses' staff into a snake to prove that he sent Moses - see Exodus 4)
  • What happened when Moses lowered his hands? (Amalekites were winning)
  • Who supported Moses' hands when he got tired? (Aaron and Hur)
  • What did Moses do after they defeated the Amalekites? (built an altar to God)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • Moses had to completely surrender himself to God's plan for the battle.
  • Will you completely surrender yourself to God's plan for your life?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

Reinforcement Activities

Moses with pipe cleaner hands

Scripture Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands. Exodus 17:9b As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. Exodus 17:11

Supplies straw, scissors, brown pipe cleaners, blue pipe cleaners

  • Simple craft using cutout of a person, a small piece of a straw and pipe cleaners.

Arms Up!

Scripture Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands. Exodus 17:9b As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. Exodus 17:11

Supplies door frame

  • Stand in a doorway with your hands by your side.
  • Press the back of your hands against the frame, like you're trying to raise your hands.
  • Stand there for about a minute and keep pressing your hands against the frame.
  • Then step out of the doorway and let your hands relax at your side.
  • Your arms automatically raise by themselves!

Names of God

Scripture Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. Exodus 17:15

Supplies posterboard with names of God

  • Add to your ongoing list of the names of God.
  • Jehovah Nissi means The Lord is my Banner. (Exodus 17:15)

Making staffs

Heads up! get sticks that are the right size for kids

Scripture Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill. I'll stand there with the staff of God in my hands. Exodus 17:9

Supplies Sticks (4-5 ft long), vegetable peelers for each student

  • Shave sticks using vegetable peelers until all bark is gone.
  • Poof! Instant staffs

Arm Contest

Scripture Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands. Exodus 17:9b As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. Exodus 17:11

  • Have student have a contest to see who can hold their arms up in the air for the longest amount of time.
  • As time goes on, give the children things to hold - heavy things like books to hasten the end of the game if needed.

Balloons in the air

Scripture Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands. Exodus 17:9b As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. Exodus 17:11

Supplies balloons

  • Divide students into groups of three. Give each group a balloon.
  • See how long they can keep it in the air by passing it around.
  • Add another balloon.
  • See how many balloons they can keep up.
  • Moses, Aaron and Hur had to work together to keep his arms in the air during the battle.