Exodus 17:8-16 God empowers His people to rule with righteousness and might

Exodus 17:8-16 God empowers His people to rule with righteousness and might

Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. 9 So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” 10 Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. 13 So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar and named it The Lord is My Banner; 16 and he said, “ The Lord has sworn; the Lord will have war against Amalek from generation to generation.”

Background

In this episode, Moses played a different role. He was to become a conduit through which God empowered the people to fight their battles. No longer will God single-handedly cut off their enemies. Israel will now have to fight and rule over the land in partnership with God. Therefore, leaders have to be vigilant to understand their flocks and the battles they are fighting. Leaders must be vigilant to grow in wisdom and authority so that they can help the flock navigate and overcome the complex issues of life. Today’s devotion teaches: God empowers His people to rule with righteousness and might.

Observation

Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim.

The Israelites emerge from an episode of thirst only to face a much bigger threat: an attack from the Amalekites seeking to destroy them. God’s directive is unlike the time where the people merely stood and saw their salvation while God single-handedly destroyed the Egyptian army (see Exodus 14:13). Here, God empowered the Israelites to do the fighting. Joshua was tasked to enlist an ad hoc group of men to fight against the Amalekites who did not fear God (see Deuteronomy 25:17-18). Although the Israelites were dwarfed by the more battle-ready Amalekites, the Lord is their banner. Moses, for his part, was to stand on top of the hill with the staff of God.

So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.

Little is reported on the battleground, for the text focuses on Moses. The outcome of the battle appeared to rest completely on what Moses did. As long as Moses kept his hands up, Israel triumphed, but when he lowered his hands, Amalek prevailed. No explanations are given concerning this phenomenon. The entire battle appeared to be decided simply by the raising and lowering of Moses’s hands. Moses sat on a stone with his hands supported on either side by Aaron and Hur. Thus, Israel defeated Amalek on that day.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

Because Amalek attacked Israel without cause, the Lord gave written instructions to future generations to wipe out Amalek. Moses commemorated the victory with an altar named “The Lord is my banner”, which bears witness to the Lord as being the prime mover that gave them victory. Indeed, the Lord is the standard and insignia beneath which Israel rallies.

Truth

God empowers His people to rule with righteousness and might

Why does God require the Israelites to fight?

It has always been God’s plan to rule creation through His sons. God appointed Adam and his descendants with the purpose of ruling the earth. To rule under God is to establish His righteousness and divine order on the earth. Here, God tasked Moses to establish His dominion through Israel. Amalek was the first to resist the dominion of God by attacking Israel. Later, Joshua was tasked to possess the promised land by military force. However, it is important to note that God’s people are motivated not by greed or power, but by the mission to save the world. This is done by regenerating man’s heart by the power of the Holy Spirit.

How did God empower the Israelites?

Moses was to station himself on top of the hill with the staff of God. He will receive power from God and transmit it to the people. Power did not originate from Moses, but from God through Moses, who possessed the staff. The outcome of the battle did not rest on Moses, but on God, who is the prime mover. The raising and lowering of Moses’s hands were due to the peculiar movement of divine power as it flowed from God. Divine power, like all physical energy, moves in waves. We observe this in electromagnetic waves, heatwave, sound waves, and ocean waves. That said, Moses must stay vigilant by holding up his hands as the power of God flowed through him to the people on the battleground.

What kind of battles are we fighting today?

Indeed, the outcome of all battles rests on the supply of divine power, not on human abilities. The Lord of the heavenly armies said, “Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit.” (Zechariah 4:6). Paul said,

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12

The powers of darkness seek to tempt believers to imprison them in bondages of worldliness, pride and unbelief. Therefore, Paul taught believers to fight by taking up the full armour of God to resist the attacks of the devil (see Ephesians 6:13-17). In today’s context, believers fight against temptations of envy and greed by putting on contentment. We fight against pessimism and unbelief by prophetically declaring a glorious future. We fight against pride by continually denying our rights in full submission under God’s love. We fight against lust by daily cleansing our bodies with the truth of the Spirit.

Believers must stay vigilant in the Spirit

Moses, by lifting up his hands relentlessly, speaks of spiritual vigilance and perseverance. Moses showed how we should persevere and never be distracted from the battles that matter. Jesus speaks of the danger of being held back by family, career, achievements etc. (see Luke 14:26). Many idolise their family and career by relegating God to the role of a servant to keep them safe and prospering.

Therefore, believers must be prayerful and alert at all times. Thus, we can be fully aware of the state of our spirit. Then, we can recognise the devil’s tactics and understand God’s will in every situation (see Ephesians 6:18).

What is the role of the spiritual leader?

The role of the leader is first to pay attention to his walk with God. Unless he follows God by staying ahead of the flock, he will not be able to lead them to green pastures. They will continually be harassed by the devil and not be able to progress. Unless the leader grows in discernment, wisdom and authority, his flock will stagnate in their growth. Unfortunately, many leaders lack the time and the capacity to function as spiritual leaders to their flock.

Secondly, the leader must be vigilant to discern the spiritual state of his flock. I am referring to leaders of families, organisations and churches. In so doing, he may understand the peculiar state of each sheep. Through divine wisdom, the leader helps his flock navigate the complex issues of life, family and career.

Society is fighting battles at all fronts: lawlessness, social inequality, rising cost of living, environmental disruption brought on by climate change etc. Breakthrough will come when the church demonstrate how society should live by acting justly, compassionately and walking humbly before God. The truth is, many leaders of churches possess fleshly agendas that have no relevance to the wellbeing of society. They preach a “gospel” that “save souls” only to make people more selfish and worldly than ever. They praise God for prospering them while turning a blind eye to many who are suffering in war-torn nations.

Application

How can I become effective at ruling with God?

1. Pick battles that matter.

Do not pick battles that affect you personally. But pick the battles that threaten the families and the morality of the community. The evil one is working to lead children astray and to break up marriages. Fight to keep children on the right path and to maintain harmony within the marriage. Concerning the church, the devil is trying to divide the people by sowing discord. He is also sowing worldly teachings to prevent people from growing to fulfil their potential. We fight to maintain unity and weed out false teachers. Concerning the workplace, fight for those who are susceptible to bullying, who cannot defend themselves. Fight to maintain a culture of honesty and righteousness in business practices.

2. Sharpen your discernment

To discern is to understand God’s point of view. By conversing with God about all things, we become acquainted with the way God perceives things. We begin by talking to God on matters that are macro and foundational. For example, to understand a person’s struggles, I will first speak to God concerning his family culture, his childhood experience and his character. Concerning battles in an organisation, I seek first to understand the organisation’s practices; if they are (in God’s perspective) righteous or not. Then, God will speak to me concerning His favour and the organisation’s future. The organisation has to get its practices right before God can bless it.

3. Practice using divine authority

Get yourself discipled by a minister who is gifted in the area of the power ministry. Serve under him wholeheartedly by submitting to his teachings and directives. Divine authority flows through structures of authority and along discipleship lines.

Dear Lord, I desire to be more effective in fighting battles. Help me pick the battles that matter to you. Help me sharpen my discernment. Create in me a clean heart to obey your word. In your time, grant me greater authority to rule with you. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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