Exodus 17:3-6,11-13,15-16 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?” Then Moses cried out to the LORD, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The LORD answered Moses, “Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel... As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 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. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword... Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. He said, “For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. Thec LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”
The traveling Israelites under the leadership of Moses were more than two million in number and this was no small task God undertook. Mob mentality reigned among these people and is today explained well as herd behavior which has been the cause of many problems worldwide.
Steering a few people is a task but taking an entire nation through the wilderness seems like a futile exercise and we can see more evidence of it. The Israelites were getting more hostile towards Moses and God and only God could intervene to change their embittered hearts. What is God speaking to us through this?
Paul in his first letter to the Corinthian church warned them of such issues from this story of the Israelites. He said in 1 Corinthians 10:3-5, 'They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.'
Is it not amazing that even though these Israelites were rescued from slavery and death and blessed with a new life, they complained and fought with God? Does this help us understand what God has to deal with in us when we are ungrateful even after all God has done for us?
The other interesting aspect of today's chapter was Moses' act of raising his hands which ensured Israel's victory through Joshua's leadership. Moses raising his hands was akin to our intercessory prayers for others.
The Amalekites were people of the desert who lived by the sword and had much experience in war. The Israelites were an enslaved nation and spent their entire life building Pharaoh's kingdom and had no military experience or prowess.
We are reminded through this act of Moses of our role as intercessor for others and that we are to battle the forces of darkness that encamp around us through the power of prayer alone. When Moses was tired, Aaron and Hur provided support and this goes to show that we cannot battle alone but need prayer support from other children of God as well.
Finally we see the altar Moses built to honor God for His deliverance. It was easy for the Israelites to celebrate their victory which seemed to come from the hands of Joshua but Moses and the elders of Israel knew where their help came from and they commemorated this event through the altar.
This is where we first meet God who is described as Jehovahnissi or my Lord is my banner. What this name meant was that under the leadership of God, we have the victory and I wonder if you carry this banner in your life or are you fighting the battles of life on your own terms and not getting anywhere?
Three dear lessons were learnt today and we can apply them in our lives or be lost in the desert of life like the Israelites who fell away from God's grace. Do you want to be on the winning side?
In His Loving Service,
1 Corinthians 10:3-5 They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
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