Sermons

Summary: God’s Word teaches us that prayer is a serious thing. We should take it seriously.

The Engine Room

(Exodus 17:8-16)

1. Scotty is one of my favorite characters on Star Trek. [project phots of Scotty]

In many episodes, he is the actual link to the crews survival. He says, “I’m givin her all the power I can,” but he always manages to coax a little more power out of the ship’s engines, or to repair an impossible-to-fix malfunction in a novel way. He is behind the scenes; Captain Kirk gets all the credit. But without Scotty’s engineering skills, Captain Kirk and the Enterprise would be toast.

2. The Kingdom of God has a lot of big names out there, whether the names are of persons or of institutions. But the power for those names or institutions to thrive is the power of prayer, prayer by unknown people far away from the bridge, way back in the engine room.

3. The devil is out to turn our prayers into a formality or empty mindless ritual, and to convince us that our prayers make no difference. We must cling to the truth that sincere prayer in concert with Scripture is the engine that the Holy Spirit uses to drive the engine of our Christian lives.

Main Idea: God’s Word teaches us that prayer is a serious thing. We should take it seriously.

I. Setting the STAGE: The Battle In Our Text

A. Under attack from AMALEK and the Amalekites

1. Descendants of Esau

2. Some say Hamaan descended from them

B. Two new men are introduced to us beside Moses and Aaron: JOSHUA and HUR.

C. When Moses hands are up, Israel PREVAILS, when down, Israel fails.

D. Post-battle: The altar, the BOOK, and the curse

1. The altar — to worship and thank the Lord.

2. The book — account included in Torah; Egyptians would typically chronicle their battles and travels, Moses did the same.

3. The curse — King Hezekiah would eventually destroy the last of them.

“a hand upon the throne” probably means that the Amalekites had insulted God and ridiculously thought they could overpower Him.

God’s Word teaches us that prayer is a serious thing. We should take it seriously.

II. The Focus: Moses Raised HANDS

• If most people told this story, they would say that Joshua won the battle, but that is not the emphasis at all. Prayer, they would say, was token/pscholog.

• In fact, this account illustrates the nature of prayer.

• It took prayer power on the hill and military strategy below to win the battle.

A. Not so much about the staff, but seeing him in the POSTURE of prayer

1. “…when Moses lift up his hands in prayer, the house of Israel prevailed, but when he restrained his hands from prayer, the house of Amalek prevailed…”

Targum of Jonathan [2nd century B.C.}

1 Kings 8:22 And Solomon stood before the altar of the LORD in the presence of all the congregation of Israel, and spread forth his hands toward heaven.

2 Chronicles 20:18, ““And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the Lord, worshipping the Lord.”

2. Scripture talks about kneeling to pray (Daniel 6:10) or standing to pray (Mark 11:25), but it never mentions folding of hands.

3. Nathan Ausubel, in Book of Jewish Knowledge said “…. the Jews even before the time of Jesus Christ, practiced [folding hands in prayer]: "It has also been commonly assumed that folding the hands in prayer is exclusively a Christian custom. This is not the historical fact at all. As early as the post-Exilic period, when Jews prayed, they folded their hands, and they observed this custom for several centuries even after it had been adopted by Christians."

4. The bottom line, however, is that Moses was publicly praying, and that is what his uplifted hands meant to the people. This taught something.

5. Also, his rod was like a flag pole. But where was the flag. The invisible Lord, Yahweh-nissi (the Lord my rallying point) was the flag! (15)

B. Some obvious LESSONS

1. We are never “prayed UP.” [daily bread]

2. We need to support one ANOTHER in prayer.

3. Battles are often on TWO fronts, spiritual and physical

• Watching a movie, unless it is very light or a mystery, is a miserable, tedious experience for me, even good movies. So I never saw, “the war room.” But I like the concept. A lot of wars are fought, at least partly, on our knees.

• Joshua was a man of God, but without prayer he was sunk. A symbiotic relationship (explain what that means).

God’s Word teaches us that prayer is a serious thing. We should take it seriously.

III. Possible NEW Testament Midrashim

A. Pray without CEASING (I Thessalonians 5:17)

“…pray without ceasing…”

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