Summary: how God calls us to fight battles with Him by our side
August 17, 2003 Exodus 17
8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
14 Then the LORD said to 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 memory of Amalek from under heaven.”
15 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. 16 He said, “For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”
Dear Fellow Soldiers in Christ,
Our God is a God who is accustomed to war. His very name, “Lord, Almighty,” literally means “Lord of the Heavenly hosts”, which draws for us the picture of a commander in chief over an army of angels. He has fought against the Philistines, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and the Egyptians, and conquered them all. In his judgment of Edom the LORD says in Isaiah 34, My sword has drunk its fill in the heavens; see, it descends in judgment on Edom, the people I have totally destroyed. The sword of the LORD is bathed in blood, it is covered with fat— the blood of lambs and goats, fat from the kidneys of rams. For the LORD has a sacrifice in Bozrah and a great slaughter in Edom. (5-6)
We are not accustomed to such pictures of God. We are more accustomed to the gentle pictures of Jesus holding children in his arms. Yet even Jesus was not afraid of a battle. More often than not Jesus was the one who picked a fight. When the Pharisees didn’t want Him to heal on the Sabbath, Jesus did anyway. When they wanted Him to wash His hands, He didn’t. He was looking for an argument - picking a fight. If you think about it, would they have put to death a nice Mr. Rogers kind of guy? No. Jesus reflected His lordship in the courage he showed to fight a battle.
We see this same Warrior God in action in today’s text. As the Israelites are in the middle of the desert on their way to Mt. Sinai, they are attacked by a people called the Amalekites. Earlier, he decided to have his people stay away from the Philistines. But here, God decided it was time not only for Him, but also for them to fight. Moses said to the Israelites -
It’s Time to Fight an Amalekite
I. We have to fight
How many of you have ever heard of the Amalekites before today? Well let me tell you a little bit about them. Amalek was a grandson of Esau. If you remember Esau and Jacob didn’t have the best of relations ever since Jacob stole Esau’s birthright. Ever since that time, the two were never able to live with one another. It seems that his angry and bitter attitude was given to the generations to come. In Deuteronomy 25 God reminded the Israelites - When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. As the Israelites were journeying to the Promised Land, the Amalekites cut off all of the Israelites who were lagging behind - which would have been the elderly, the young children and the women. This gives you a good idea as to what these Amalekites were like. They were cheap shot artists - attacking and killing the weakest and the sickest of the Israelites that couldn’t keep up with the group.
This may seem like a despicable thing to do, and it is. But don’t be surprised at it. This is the way that the world works. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. When the devil tempted Adam and Eve - he tempted him with power - you will be like GOD! When Satan fell, he did it because he wanted MORE POWER. And so throughout the ages, the world revolves around power. It lives by one motto - only the strong survive. Little children establish early on who is the strongest. When one child can’t kick the ball as hard as others, he is labeled as a reject. At the work place, if you can’t yell at people or talk big, you’re depicted as being “not hungry enough.” It’s all about power, and everyone’s struggling for it.