This Week’s Focus: Exodus 17.
The Children of God are continuing their journey to the Promised Land. Along the way they begin complaining to Moses once again because they are thirsty. Moses turns to God for guidance and is told to strike a rock with his rod. Moses does so, and WATER FLOWS OUT OF THE ROCK! As they are drinking the Israelites are attacked by their enemies.
Exodus 17: 5-6
5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”
And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
A few verses down the Israelites are attacked by the Amalekites.
The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim.
Remember God Himself is LEADING His children.
Exodus 17:1 states
The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim but there was no water to drink.
God KNEW that there was no water here- He knew that they would have to DEPEND on HIM to quench their thirst! He also knew they would be attacked at Rephidim. God was aware of this even BEFORE He led them to this spot.
Reading this chapter, I was immediately filled with questions:
1. Why God would lead His children to this area knowing what would happen?
2. Didn’t God want to keep them safe and well provided for?
Through this week’s study we will discover the answers to my questions…….. we will come to realize that these events were SO MUCH MORE than just a drink of water and a battle-
These events once again were Lessons of LOVE!
Lesson in 3 Parts
History of Amalekites
Symbolism Behind the Rod (Moses’ staff)
Connection to Us Today
History of the Amalekites
The Amalekites in the Bible were enemies of God. They were descendants of Esau, who chose earlier in the Bible NOT to follow God. Esau and Jacob (who was later named Israel) were twin brothers and the the grandsons of Abraham. We learned earlier in this LOVE QUEST series that God first gave His blessing and promise to Abraham in the book of Genesis. God promised to bless Abraham and make his descendants a great nation. He then passed the blessing on to his son Isaac. Isaac then passed the blessing to his son Jacob. According to the custom of that day, Esau being the older twin was entitled to a special blessing. Jacob valued God and the blessings that He had promised His people, Esau did not. Esau thought so little of God and valued this future blessing so little that he willingly gave it up for a bowl of soup! (Genesis 25: 19-34)
God did not want the Amalekites to be His enemies, but He does not force anyone to LOVE Him. People are born with a choice to make. They can either choose to Love God and in turn follow the Lord, or they can choose to not love God and follow themselves instead. Jacob chose to LOVE God and as a result his children, the Israelites loved God. Esau chose to only LOVE himself and hate God and as a result his children hated God.
Symbolism Behind the Rod
God wanted His children to realize how vitally important it was for them to look to HIM for their strength and provision. The Lord knew that Israelites would face both evil and “droughts” in their lives. He needed them to learn how to handle both of these situations. God WOULD always be with them, BUT they had to CHOOSE whether or not to DEPEND on Him for their STRENGTH and PROVISION. Through these events, the Israelites would learn that in both their future battles and deserts they must rely on GOD’S MIGHT and RESOURCES to rescue them! They must learn to HOLD ONTO GOD’S STRENGTH- just as Moses HELD onto the rod!
The Battle Begins
As the Israelites were drinking their water, The Amalekites came up from behind and attacked them. Thus, the battle began. We see from these few verses in Exodus that not much was mentioned about the battle strategies or fight plans of the Israelites. This was because those details were NOT important! What was important was GOD’S POWER and PROTECTION over His children. This is symbolized in this story through the rod.
The rod that Moses held during this battle was the same one he held out so many times before. This rod had been involved in several of God’s miracles before. It was used to part the Red Sea and again to close the Red Sea (Genesis 14), it was the rod that was JUST USED to cause water to flow out from a rock! This rod represented POWER!!! More than that, it represented God’s POWER!!!! When Moses held on to the rod and followed God’s commands, God’s power flowed through Moses!
As this battle was fought, the Israelites noticed something huge about the rod and its connection to Moses. They noticed that every time Moses lifted his arms (and rod) to the Heavens they would win that part of the battle. They also noticed that whenever Moses lowered his hands and the rod, they would begin to lose the battle. The Israelites recognized this early on and chose to KEEP THE ROD (God’s Power) lifted up!
When Moses’ arms got too tired to remain raised, two of Moses’ companions helped! Aaron and Hur held his arms up- one on one side-one on the other. These two men continued raising Moses’ arms until sunset when the battle was over!
Exodus 17: 9-13
9 And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
What an AMAZING hands-on lesson given by God! Through this visual God was showing His children that in order to be victorious, it was imperative for the Israelites to stay focused, obedient, and connected to Him! They MUST depend on His strength not their own! They must keep God lifted up above EVERYTHING ELSE! The Lord allowed this altercation with the Amalekites so that His children could learn this valuable lesson!
God knew that His children would encounter many enemies in their lives. He wanted them to know early on how they should handle future attacks. He needed them to understand that they would have a choice to make. In future battles, they could either depend on God’s strength and instruction and be led to victory, or they could look to their own strength and plans and find defeat. The lands around them were filled with enemies of God. The Lord wanted His children to be ready for any evil that they may encounter!
Connections to Us Today
Our lives will not always be easy. Just like the Israelites, we will be led into “deserts” at different points in our lives. IF GOD IS THE ONE who leads us there we can be guaranteed that He is doing so OUT OF LOVE! If we NEVER had to walk through a desert…… how could God possibly ever build our trust and faith in HIM??
** We must also realize that sometimes Satan leads us into a deserts as well- THAT IS NOT OUT OF LOVE. See my blog under “My Story” … The Devil’s Dominoes……
We STILL have enemies of God today. We may call them by different names other than Amalekites, BUT we are surrounded by people and groups of people who are EVIL. We can not defeat evil by our own power. We can ONLY defeat the darkness when we are LOOKING to God and depending on His strength and direction. We MUST hold His rod in our hands and keep our focus on our Heavenly Father!
It is vital to be surrounded by strong Christian friends. Moses had friends on either side of him to lift his arms when he was no longer able. We NEED friends like that in our lives! If we do not have anyone like that, we should intentionally LOOK and PRAY for God to bring us some! The battles and deserts are REAL! We do NOT need to enter them alone!