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“GOD GIVES VICTORY OVER THE AMALEKITES”
Sunday, September 20, 2020
Lesson: Exodus 17:8-16;
Time of Action: 1445 B.C.;
Place of Action: Rephidim
Lesson Text: Exodus 17:8-16
King James Version (KJV)
I. ISRAEL’S CONFLICT WITH AMALEK (Exodus 17:8-13)
8. Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
9. And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
10. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12. But Moses hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
II. A MEMORIAL FOR GOD’S VICTORY (Exodus 17:14-16)
14. And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
15. And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi:
16. For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
Golden Text: “And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed” (Exodus 17:11).
The New Testament speaks of the gift of “helps” (see I Corinthians 12:28) referring to the ability to do spiritual work effectively in a supportive role. The assisting ministry is not unique to the New Testament. God’s leaders in Old Testament days also had those who served in the LORD’S work in a supporting role. This week’s lesson spotlights Aaron and Hur in their ministry of assisting Moses.
II. BACKGROUND FOR THE LESSON.
The Exodus was one of the great events in Israel’s history, but it was not accomplished without hardship and testing (see Exodus 15:25; 16:4). After the Israelites were pursued by the Egyptian army, they faced a lack of food and water in the desert (see Exodus 15:22; 16:3-4). More than once they complained to Moses that he had brought them out of Egypt to die in the desert (see Exodus 15:22; 16:2-3). But God in His mercy and grace provided both water (see Exodus 15:25, 27) and food (see Exodus 16:4, 35) for His people. This week’s lesson begins after God provided water from a rock for His people (see Exodus 17:1-7) presenting the first opposition the newly liberated Israelites encountered.
III. ISRAEL’S CONFLICT WITH AMALEK (Exodus 17:8-13)
A. A position assigned to Joshua (Exodus 17:8-11).
1. (vs. 8). Our first verse says “Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.” After God had supplied the Israelites with water from a rock, “Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.” The name “Amalek” refers to the Amalekites, who were a nomadic or wandering powerful people. The Amalekites were the first of the nations that Israel fought with after leaving Egyptian bondage (see Numbers 24:20). This attack occurred while the Israelites were still encamped “in Rephidim” (see Exodus 17:1). The Amalekites attacked the Israelites from the rear falling on the feeble, weak and helpless among the Israelites (see Deuteronomy 25:17-18).
Note: As a nomadic or wandering people, the Amalekites wandered in search for pasture which led them to the borders of Egypt in southern Palestine. It is believed by many that they were the descendants of Esau’s grandson “Amalek” (see Genesis 36:12-16). Since the Amalekites were descendants of Esau and the Israelites were descendants of Jacob who at one point were enemies, because of the birthright and blessing, we can see why the Amalekites and the Israelites were longtime enemies. In addition, the Amalekites did not fear God (see Deuteronomy 25:17-19) which probably also led to the animosity between the two nations.
2. (vs. 9). This verse says
“And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.” Perceiving a need for military action, “Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek.” The name “Joshua” in Hebrew means “Jehovah is salvation” which is also the meaning of the name “Jesus.” Moses also gave “Joshua” the name “Jehoshua” and he is also called “Hoshea” (see Deuteronomy 32:44) and “Oshea” (see Numbers 13:16). Each of these names is some form of either “Jehovah is salvation” or simply “salvation.” In Greek, “Jehovah is salvation” is the name “Jesus” (see Matthew 1:21). This is the first mention of “Joshua” in the Scriptures and Moses charges him with organizing an army from among the thousands of Israelite men (see Exodus 12:37) to “fight with Amalek” or the Amalekites. “Joshua” would be the commander-in-chief of this operation which would help to prepare him for the leadership position he was chosen for after the death of Moses (see Deuteronomy 34:9; Joshua 1:1-6, 10-11). “Joshua’s” ability as a leader must have been outstanding for he organized an army to fight in just one day. Instead of leading the army himself, Moses said “to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.” We see here how God calls and qualifies His people for different services to accomplish His will. “Joshua” was called to lead an army and “Moses” was called to pray holding “the rod of God in mine (his) hand.”
3. (vs. 10). This verse says
“So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.” Following Moses’ instructions, “Joshua” led his newly formed army into battle “and fought with Amalek.” At the same time, just as he said he would “Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.” Of course “Aaron” was “Moses’” brother and “Hur” was probably the grandfather of the chief architect and designer of the tabernacle, Bezaleel (see Exodus 36:1-2; I Chronicles 2:20). ,Along with “Aaron” and “Hur,” “Moses went up to the top of the hill,” and most likely stood where he could be seen by God’s people. Taking his position, “Moses” held up the rod of God in his hand (see verse 9). The same miracle-working rod “Moses” had used to bring the plagues upon Egypt (see Exodus 4:19-21; 7:17, 20; 8:5, 16; 9:23). This was the same rod under which Israel departed out of Egypt; out of the house of bondage and crossed the Red Sea (see Exodus 14:16). Now “Moses” held up this same rod before Israel as a banner to encourage the Israelite soldiers. There’s no doubt in my mind that “Moses” was holding this rod up to God appealing to Him not only as a standard-bearer, but also as an intercessor, pleading with Him for success and victory. The Bible teaches that “men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (see Luke 18:1). This should be especially true when we are fighting a battle that seems too hard to overcome. Yes, when “Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill,” their duty was to pray for Israel to be victorious. Indeed, “Moses” holding the rod of God high was an act of prayer.
4. (vs. 11). This verse says
“And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.” From the top of the hill, Moses could see the battle raging below, but as previously noted, his role in this conflict was not as a general. While the battle took place “Moses held up his hand” holding the rod symbolizing his heart being lifted up in intercessory prayer. As long as “his hand” was raised, “Israel prevailed” meaning that Israel had he advantage in the battle. But when “Moses…let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.” Undoubtedly, this battle continued all day causing “Moses” to become weary of holding “his hands” high. When that happened, the battle turned in “Amalek’s” favor.
B. The position of Aaron and Hur (Exodus 17:12). This verse says
“But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.” At some point during the day, “Moses hands were heavy” because he was tired from holding them up. Although “Moses” was eighty years old (see Acts 7:23, 30), he was still a strong man (see Deuteronomy 34:7). But after holding up the rod all day, anyone’s arms would become “heavy.” To help “Moses” do what he was called to do, “Aaron” and “Hur” put “a stone…under him and he sat” down on it. With “Aaron and Hur” standing on either side of “Moses,” they “stayed (or held up) up his hands.” Doing this steadied “Moses” so that “his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.” In other words, with “Aaron” and “Hur” on “Moses’” left and right sides holding up his arms, he was able to keep them lifted until the “sun went down.” This lets us know how important it is for us to help each other in accomplishing God’s will. We are not all called to do the same things, but we are all called to do something to help. Besides, “helps” is one of the gifts that Paul identified in I Corinthians 12:28. The point is, that even if God appoints us to do something, we may need help to do it well. Therefore, we should not be afraid to ask for help from others or to give help to others, because as believers in Jesus Christ, “we are members one of another” (see Romans 12:5; Ephesians 4:25). It appears that without the help of “Aaron” and “Hur,” the Israelites would have suffered defeat at the hands of the Amalekites. No doubt, the people were greatly encouraged to fight when they saw “Moses” on the hill with his arms raised toward God and Joshua leading the charge on the battlefield.
C. Amalek is routed (Exodus 17:13). This verse says
“And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” Because Moses did his part and Aaron and Hur did their part we are told that “Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” This means that the host of Israel led by “Joshua” routed the Amalekites with their swords. The phrase “Amalek and his people” does not mean that these people were led by a person named “Amalek.” Instead it was another way of referring to the nation of the Amalekites (see Numbers 24:20).
Note: When we consider that “Joshua” was leading an Israelite army that was just released from 430 years of Egyptian bondage (see Exodus 12:40-41) and were not equipped for war, nor did they have any experience in battles, we know that it was God who gave them the victory. The routing of the Amalekites confirms that God honored the prayers offered by Moses on that day by giving “Joshua” and the Israelites the victory. But know this; even though “Joshua” was credited with “discomfiting” or routing the enemy, the battle was not his, it was the LORD’S (see I Samuel 17:47; II Chronicles 20:15).
IV. A MEMORIAL FOR GOD’S VICTORY (Exodus 17:14-16)
A. Moses instructed to memorialize this victory (Exodus 17:14).
This verse says “And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” After God gave Israel the victory over the Amalekites, He said to “Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua.” Not only was “Moses” commanded to “write” down what happened that day, he was also told to “rehearse it in the ears of Joshua.” In other words, “Moses” was to recite what he wrote to “Joshua,” entrusting him with this “memorial” to be shared with generations to come. “Moses” must now begin to keep a journal or record which would include what the Amalekites tried to do to Israel because God said “for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” God had determined to destroy the memory of the Amalekites so a record of their actions against Israel needed to be kept. This is the first time writing is mentioned in the scriptures.
Note: Undoubtedly “Moses” was to “write” about what the Amalekites had done against Israel. He was to “write” about their hatred of Israel so that their cruel attempts to destroy God’s people would never be forgotten. “Moses” was to “write” how God saved Israel from the Amalekites, letting future generations know that God fights for His people, and those who come against His people, come against “the apple of His eye” (see Zechariah 2:8). “Moses” was commanded to “write” these things because a time would come when the Amalekites will be totally destroyed and would only be a memory in history. The Amalekites and other nations declared that they would cut off Israel from being a nation so that the name of Israel will no longer be remembered (see Psalms 83:1-7). But instead, God would cut off the Amalekites so that they would no longer be remembered therefore, God not only disappoints them in this, but cuts off their name. This prophecy was fulfilled partly by King Saul (see I Samuel 15:1-35), and completely by King David (see I Samuel 30:1-31; II Samuel 1:1; 8:10-12). God being true to His word, after the time of David, not even the name of Amalek or the Amalekites is mentioned in the Scriptures (see I Chronicles 4:42-43).
B. Moses builds an altar to honor God (Exodus 17:15-16).
1. (vs. 15). This verse says “And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi.” To make sure that God would receive the glory for the victory over the Amalekites, “Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi.” So that there would be no misunderstanding as to who the “altar” was for, “Moses” called…it Jehovah-nissi” which means “the LORD is my banner or flag.” He gave it this name because it refers to the lifting up of the rod of God (see Psalms 20:5) like a flag.
2. (vs. 16). Our final verse says
“For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” The name “Jehovah-nissi” was fitting for the altar that Moses built “For he (Moses) said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” Moses was to include this in the book he was commanded to write so that Israel would never make any peace treaty with the Amalekites. God “hath sworn” or had taken an oath that He would be at “war” with the Amalekites for “generations” to come. God’s war with the Amalekites would be fought by the Israelites until this enemy was completely wiped out (see Deuteronomy 25:19). Therefore, Israel was to view “Amalek” or the Amalekites as irreconcilable enemies, doomed to be destroyed.
In the conflict with Amalek (the Amalekites), Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands so that the battle would go in favor of Joshua. Their support of the leader, Moses, allowed the people of Israel to achieve victory over Amalek. The supportive role played by Aaron and Hur blended in perfectly with the talents of Moses. No one person has every spiritual gift. Some people stand out as leaders; yet the many people behind those leaders make the difference between success and failure. The very best and ablest of us cannot do without our brothers and sisters. We need each other. God planned it that way, and as we yield ourselves as instruments to Him, we too, will experience the blessing of being part of God’s great divine plan for this age.
PRACTICAL POINTS FOR DISCUSSION:
1. The single most important weapon in any conflict is the assurance of the presence of God (Exodus 17:9-10; Ephesians 6:10).
2. Man’s greatest effort apart from God’s help is doomed to fail (Exodus 17:11).
3. God’s work flourishes when His people are eager to support the one He has chosen to lead the work (Exodus 17:12-13).
4. We should remember every victory God gives us so when the next battle comes, we will trust Him more (Exodus 17:14-16).
***The Sunday School Lesson, Union Gospel Press Curriculum; The Bible Expositor and Illuminator***