Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Then call on me when you are in trouble, and I will rescue you, and you will give me glory.” (Psalm 50:15)
The people of Israel were thirsty, and complained to Moses and God.Even so, God, who was infinitely merciful, again showed His power and love to the people.Moses, upon God’s command, struck the rock, and water gushed out before the eyes of the people of Israel.
The Israelites always forgot God’s mercy and love, and His mighty hand. God guided them with His miraculous power and wonders, but whenever they confront with a small challenge, their hearts quickly returned back to the slavery nation of Egypt rather than overcoming the difficulty with faith and hope in God. Thus, Moses named the place Massah (which means “test”) and Meribah (which means “arguing”) because the people of Israel argued with Moses and did not trust God by testing the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD here with us or not?” (Exodus 17:7)
Then they stayed in Rephidim. They enjoyed the delicious manna every day from heaven, and the fresh water was gushing out of the rock for them every day. They were satisfied, and comfortably camped in Rephidim. Their lives were good. Everything went well, and nothing bothered them. Plenty of food, water and freedom. No more masters to serve as they had to do in Egypt before. The camp was so silent. No complaint or grumbling against Moses and God at all. It was a stark contrast from a few days ago when they could not find water. At that time, they raised their voice, and said, “Why did Moses bring us out of Egypt?” or “Let’s go back to Egypt.” No more. Even a single person spoke up against Moses because they had enough food and plenty of water. However, without noticing, the people of Israel was drifting. They were drifting away from God because their lives were so good and comfortable. This was another form of subtle and delicate challenge against their faith (not physical one like no water or no food to eat). A false complacency was slowly kicking into their lives, and this looseness was steadily being pervasive among all of the people camped at Rephidim. God, who dearly loved them, could not leave them alone.
While the people of Israel were comfortably still at Rephidim, suddenly, they were under attack of the warriors of Amalek. The camp immediately became chaotic. Some fled, and others hid from the warriors of Amalek. Indeed, the people of Israel had never expected to be attacked. They thought that they were in peace because they were completely out of the range of the Egyptian army. They remembered most of the Egyptian army were perished when the Red Sea returned to its place while sounding the thundering noise from the collapsing gigantic walls of the water. Then they saw the dead bodies of the Egyptian army. It was the last time that they were really chased by warriors. Now they met again those warries and horses, who tried to kill them.
Moses call them calm, and gathered the Israelites. However, not like the Egyptian Army nor the warriors of Amalek, the Israelites had no warriors nor army to fight against the Amalekites’ warriors attacking them. None of them was trained like the attacking warriors. They had no real weapons available either. It was a real disaster. Please think about what would happen between the well-trained warriors of Amalek and the bunch of Israelites without any formal military training. There was no match between two. It would be one sided battle while simply slaughtering the Israelites by the attacking warriors. Yes, the Israelites were just slaves who used to make bricks and serve Egyptians, and just released from the slavery. They were nothing before the warriors of Amalek.
Moses quickly prayed to God.Every single person of the Israelites knew there was no one but God who could save them.Please note that for this time, nobody complained.All of the Israelites got united under Moses while completely trusting God.Each family sent young men to Moses to defend against the invading Amalekites.What a change!The people of Israel used to complain whenever they met a challenge situation.They used to argue against God by telling “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Are you trying to kill us, our children, and our livestock here in this wilderness?We’d rather be in Egypt as slaves.”Yes, before the swords of the Amalek, they were united and together trusted God.
Moses made the young men organized to defend against Amalekite, and appointed Joshua as the leader. Then Moses commanded Joshua, “With these young me, go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.”(Exodus 17:9b) Two things that we can see what Moses did:
1.Be brave, go out and fight
Both Moses and the young men gathered to fight knew they were not capable of defeating the well-trained warriors of Amalek. They had one thing – faith in God. Among the young men, Moses saw one particular person, Joshua, who had a great faith in God. He also had an ability to lead people even in the chaotic battle field. Moses quickly trusted Joshua because of Joshua’s great faith along with his leadership. Moses, then, sent him with the young men to fight the army of Amalek with his encouragement in God.
2.Will be with you at the top of the hill by praying to God
a.Moses said “I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.” Moses promised Joshua to continue supporting him by prayer to God at the place plainly visible at the top of the hill so that Joshua and his people could see Moses, who was praying to God with his staff lifted up high. Of course, Moses and the staff raised high were clearly visible to the warriors of Amalek. Moses trusted God with his staff lifted up, thought which Moses experienced God power and mercy many times. Joshua and the young men on the battle field trusted God, who would save them again as God did before the Egyptian army chasing to kill them on the other side of the Red Sea.
So Joshua and the young men faithfully followed what Moses had commanded.They fought against the army of Amalek and they fully trusted God that God would surely delivered them. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. Moses held up the staff in his hand and prayed.Both sides saw Moses and his hand lifted up high with his staff.When Moses raised up his staff, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage.
Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. (Exodus 17:12) It was a long day for Moses, Aaron, Hur, Joshua, and the Israel’s young men. All of them were together in one faith, and they fought together having the same faith in God. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle. (Exodus 17:13) It was the first victory for the Israelites, and a great one. They could not believe what happened. They for the first time defended themselves by defeating the invading Amalekites. The great joy was prevail in the people of Israel, not because they received something from God out of their whining before God, but they together believe God and together they defeated the invading warriors in unity.
After the victory, God instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-nissi (which means “the LORD is my banner”). He said, “They have raised their fist against the LORD’s throne, so now the LORD will be at war with Amalek generation after generation.” (Exodus 17:15-16)
God, who is full of grace and mercy, always watches over His people. God led the Israelites with patience and love. When they need water, God provided. When they were hungry, God provided manna. When they were invaded, God gave the victory. What God wanted was to have faith in Him rather than complaining. For the first time, the Israelites did. They united in faith, and received the huge victory against the enormous odd – the warriors of Amalek vs. a bunch of young men who never had any military training. Because they believed, God provided. The Moses’ prayer and his two helpers never stopped till the sunset. God answered. Our God has never changed. He carefully watches over us always. When we believe, God provides. When we pray, God answers against all kinds of odds because Our God is greater than the world. Give thanks to God for His faithfulness! His name will be praised from the lips of those who are faithful from now and forever.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2)