You are the end and my beginnings, the Lord of time. Thank You for the gift of time You have given to me.
Read EXODUS 17
Water From the Rock
17 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 for the people to drink. 2 So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”
3 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?”
4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
5 The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front 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. 6 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. 7 And he called the place Massah[a] and Meribah[b] because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
The Amalekites Defeated
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 name of Amalek from under heaven.”
15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. 16 He said, “Because hands were lifted up against[c] the throne of the Lord,[d] the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.”’1
There are two enemies, one internal and one external, in today’s reading. Both threaten to jeopardize Israel’s survival. The internal threat (vs 1–7) came from renewed grumbling. The moaning was debilitating, taking its toll on Moses, who felt threatened they would stone him, the judicial penalty for treason. Even more seriously, it expressed ingratitude to God and a lack of faith in his provision. The people had clearly learned nothing from their journey so far! God stepped in, ensuring a delicate balance between Moses taking responsibility as their leader (v 5a) and others witnessing to the fact that God himself was the source of the miracle (vs 5b,6).
The external threat came from the Amalekites (vs 8–16), the nomadic descendants of Esau, destined always to be at war with Israel. Moses’ staff plays the starring role again (v 5),2 because it was the means by which Moses performed signs, signaling God’s sovereign presence (note ‘throne’, v 16) and that he was at work. Their triumph was a God-given, not humanly devised, victory. Yet people also played a significant role, with Joshua being introduced for the first time and Aaron and Hur in supporting roles. They are, in Paul’s words, ‘God’s fellow workers’3 – but not his equal partners – in the battle. Rightly, they carefully recorded the event, naming God as their ensign in warfare from then on.
Satan still uses a variety of strategies to destroy the church, including internal division and external persecution. We should not be ‘unaware of his schemes’, so he doesn’t ‘outwit us’.4 We should be even more aware that God reigns and gives victory to his people in the midst of their battles when they trust and obey him.
Note some of the lessons you would draw out from these two incidents to guide yourself and your church in the spiritual battle.
Lord, I can be so like ancient Israel. As you press in on me with new challenges, new calls, I push back against You. Help me rather to obey You.
1 Phil 2:14–15 2 Cf Exod 4:1–17 3 2 Cor 6:1 4 2 Cor 2:11
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