Sunday, August 26, 2007

Exodus 17:8-16 - The Lord My Banner

Opening thought:
Most of us remember September 11, 2001, when on a beautiful, sunny autumn morning, our nation fell under vicious, pre-meditated, and hateful attack by rogue Islamic terrorists.

A few of us remember December 7, 1941, that Sunday morning when Japanese fighter planes built out of American scrap metal bombed our naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Israel had a premeditated, surprise attack as well. The Amalekites ambushed Israel’s weary stragglers at Rephidim. Today let’s look at that battle and the result.

Contextual Notes:
The children of Israel have left the Desert of Siyin, and they have seen the Lord’s provision of water despite their unbelief from a large, bare, outstanding rock at the entrance to the region of Rephidim. Ahead of them, the walls of the mountains narrow and head into the beautiful plain of Rephidim (“rest”), nearly 1500 feet above sea level, the most fertile in the whole Sinai Peninsula, several miles long, wide, green, and fertile, with palms, tamarisk trees providing delicious shade. Sweet in the ear is the high pitched song of the bulbul, but sweeter still to a weary desert traveler is the soft murmur of running water a few inches deep. Close by, in contrast to the green groves and running river, on either side of the valley, are the fantastic colors of rock – white boulders, pink rock walls, red and gray rocks whose colors dance in the sun and seem to jump off the rock canvas on which they are painted.

The Amalekites, descendants of Esau and therefore cousins of Israel (Genesis 36:12, 15-16), are camped at its springs, controlling the water source. The Amalekites are planning to ambush and attack the Israelites whom they think are thirsty, weary, and worn (Deuteronomy 25:17-19).

What the Amalekites did not know is that by the Lord’s gracious hand Israel had seen Moses strike the Rock with the staff of God and water flowed to refresh God’s people. They were not all weary. They were refreshed by the hand of the Lord. Not all the stragglers had made it to the water yet. There were 2 million in this group. These are the ones the Amalekites attacked (Deuteronomy 25:17-19)

To the north, rising 700 feet above the valley, stands a small mountain (Jebel Tahuneh), regarded by the local bedouins today, and with good probability, where Moses, Aaron, and Hur stood during the battle. To the south, across the battlefield of Rephidim, is the majestic Mount Serbal, one of the Peninsula’s highest at 6690 feet, dominates the horizon and bounds the valley. On either side of it, a valley runs down into Rephidim. Looking down the left valley of Mount Serbal, far off to the southeast, Moses could see from his prayer perch the blue range of Sinai.

The Battle of Rephidim teaches us that success depends on God’s presence and aid. This has been God’s lesson since Israel left Egypt.

* In the pillar of cloud/fire, God said, “My Presence guides you.”
* In the parting of the Red Sea, God said, “My Presence rescues you from danger.”
* In turning the bitter water sweet, God said, “My Presence meets your basic needs.”
* In providing miraculous bread in the desert, God said, “My Presence provides for your basic needs every day.”
* In providing quail, God said, “My Presence graciously provides some of your wants.”
* In bringing water out of the rock, God said, “My Presence is gracious even when your attitude is bad and you are living in unbelief.”
* In the victory over Amalek, God said, “My Presence is the secret of your success.”

Pray and Read: Exodus 17:8-16 in Amplified

Exposition: Note well,

1. Power of a surprise attack (17:8).
The Battle of Rephidim was Israel’s first fight, and it was a surprise attack, pre-meditated and vicious, attacking the weakest among Israel.

Amalek means “those who take away all.”

Amalek was the grandson of Esau, the one who sold his birthright for a bowl of porridge. His descendant never got the taste of that porridge out of their mouths. They fought against Israel at every opportunity, and they played dirty. Later, Saul did not follow the Lord’s command to destroy all the Amalekites and lost his kingship (1 Samuel 15:2-3). Later, Hezekiah destroyed Amalekites. Later, Mordecai and Esther had to deal with Saul’s malfeasance as Haman was a descendant of Agag.

There are Amalekites in the church. They are full of bitterness and bound in sin, and they want everyone else to be as miserable as they are. They are true to their name, and they do their best to take away all they can from the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. They are always sour and full of venom. They attack everything that comes up that God wants to do. They stand against every initiative of the Holy Spirit. They are the weeds mentioned by Jesus in the Parable of the Weeds in Matthew. They are unsaved, but they attack the people of God, the direction of God, and the ways of God in the church.

AMALEK – TRACED THROUGH BIBLE – 20 times (Gen 36:12, 15-16; Their crime Deuteronomy 25:17-19; Numbers 24:20; 1 Samuel 15:2-3) Genesis 14:7; 36:12, 16; Exodus 17:8-11, 13-14, 16; Numbers 13:29; 14:25, 43, 45; 24:20; 25:19; Deuteronomy 25:17-18; Judges 3:13; 5:14; 6:3, 33; 7:12; 10:12; 12:15; 1 Samuel 14:48;15:2-8, 15, 18, 20, 32; 27:8; 28:18; 30:1, 13, 18; 2 Samuel 1:1, 8, 13; 8:12; 1 Chronicles 1:36; 4:43; 18:11; Psalms 83:7

Deuteronomy 25:17-19: “17 "Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt, 18 how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God. 19 Therefore when the LORD your God has given you rest from all your enemies around you, in the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you shall not forget.”

APPLICATION: The enemy often attacks us at our weakest point. You might feel blindsided, but the Lord already saw it coming. He has it under control.

2. Power of Spiritual Warfare (17:9-10, 13).
Joshua first mentioned here (later Exo 24:13; 32:17, etc.), a picture of Jesus Christ to come. Joshua, here likely in his early twenties, has the Hebrew name of Jesus (Yeshua – “salvation is of YHWH). As Joshua goes forth in the first battle of his great military career, so Christ went forth as an intercessor to fight our battles.

Rod / Staff: The rod that struck Nile and struck the Rock now strikes the Amalekites (water, land, people – God’s sovereignty). This act is both a reminder of God’s work in past and a demonstration of YHWH’s sovereignty that he is Lord of land, sea, and people.

APPLICATION: There is another One who holds a rod in his hand. A Perfect Man who is a Son is described in Psalm 2:9 who holds a rod by which he will smash the nations who rage against Him. Who is that Man? John gives us the answer in Revelation 12:5; cf. 2:27; 19:15).

3. The Power of Intercession (17:11-12)
a. INTERCESSION OF MOSES -- Aaron a Levite and Hur a Judahite (Jewish tradition of Josephus: Hur was Miriam’s husband (1 Chron 2:18-19). Hur a descendant of Judah and grandfather of Bezaleel (Exo 24:14)

b. Picture of Christ as Intercessor, operating from His sovereignty (rod), a Trinitarian Intercession. Notice that Aaron is a Levite (priest) and Hur is from the Royal tribe of Judah. Our intercessor is a Prophet (Moses), Priest (Aaron), and King (Hur).

c. So it is only after the Christian receives the living water front Christ the smitten Rock that he can effectively conquer his spiritual foes (1Jo_5:4). Faith and prayer go together, as at Rephidim. Lift up, not an empty hand, but like Moses grasping the rod hold fast God's word of promise, filling the hand with this effectual plea (Exo_17:9; Exo_17:11-12; Job_23:4; Psa_119:49; Isa_43:26; Jam_5:16).

d. APPLICATION: Prayer and intercession are the hallmark of Kingdom extension and God’s protection. Use it for you, your family, your church, your nation.

4. Power of Word and Worship (17:14-16)


b. Worship: BUILT AN ALTAR “LORD IS MY BANNER” Banners’ signif: Jer 4:21; 51:12, 27

b. Jehovah Nissi, YHWH is my Banner -- Not Moses is my Banner, but Jesus is my banner