Exodus 17:8 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.
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 Jehovahnissi:
16 For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
We have been looking at some of the different names used to described different attributes of the LORD. God is amazing beyond words. It is important to know the true God. He cannot be compared to any of the false gods. He is the only true God and all people need to know Him. All people will know Him in the end. For most it will not benefit them. God gives all people the opportunity to know Him.
In our text, Moses was the chosen leader of the nation of Israel. He was chosen by God, not by man. As the nation of Israel was moving from Egypt to the land of Canaan, they encountered many challenges. God was showing them that He was bigger than any challenge they would face. Israel’s trouble was due to their unbelief and rebellion against the LORD. It was important for them to learn the need to humble themselves before Almighty God and follow Him.
The Amalekites were the descendants of Esau’s grandson, Eliphaz. Eliphaz had a concubine named Timnah. Amalek was a son that Eliphaz had with this woman. The Amalekites were enemies of God. As we noted, Amalek had a tough start, coming from the family of Esau. Esau did not believe in the true God. He was the son of Isaac. He could have known the true God, but chose not to. He despised his birthright and he also missed out on the blessing of the firstborn that Isaac planned to give to him. Esau could have known the fear of the LORD. God knows the nature of each person. He does not force anyone to reject Him. However, He knows the inner workings of every person. It is important for a person to be willing to hear and respond properly to the truth. Isaac and Rebekah knew that Jacob was God’s choice to carry on the blessing given to Abraham. Isaac chose to ignore God’s plan and his plan was to bless his firstborn son, Esau. Rebekah also knew what God’s plan was for her two sons. She chose to use deception to put Jacob in his rightful place at the time of the giving of the blessing.
When parents do not follow God’s way, they put hindrances before their children. This does not mean that children cannot choose to know the true God and follow Him. It is important for parents to be careful not to put a stumbling block before their children.
It was several hundred years since the birth of Amalek to the time we are looking at in our text. Over that time, Amalek chose to continue to walk in defiance of the true God. In our text, Amalek, the descendants of Amalek, fought against Israel. Israel had not sought trouble with them. There was a hatred here due to Amalek’s hatred for God. Spiritual conflicts are often more intense than other conflicts. Israel was the people of God. The devil has a hatred for the people of God. Israel as a nation, was not walking with God at the time of Moses. There were some Hebrews that walked in the fear of the LORD, but the nation was not seeking after Him. This created a challenge for Moses. However, God was still going to bless Israel as a nation because of His promise to Abraham.
In this particular battle, Moses told Joshua to choose out the men needed and go and fight against Amalek. Moses would go to the top of the hill with the rod of God in his hand. Moses would stretch out that rod and as long as he held up that rod, Israel prevailed against Amalek. Over time Moses’ hands became tired and it says they became heavy. He could no longer hold them up steady. When Moses let his hands come down to rest, Amalek would advance against Israel. Thus we read that Aaron and Hur stood, one on either side of Moses, and helped him to hold his hands up for the duration of the battle.
We read in verse 13 that Israel was able to “discomfit” meaning “overthrow” Amalek. God used unique methods to give Israel the victory so that they would know that their successes were not due to their wisdom and might. They needed to learn that the LORD was the One Who fought on their behalf. He gave them the victory.
In verse 14 we read that the LORD told Moses to write this account in a book for Joshua to remember. God promised that He would remove the memory of Amalek from under heaven. The children of Amalek had made their choice. Their choice was to reject the true God. God had given them opportunity to choose to know Him, but they rejected that opportunity.
In verse 15 Moses built an altar and called the name of it Jehovahnissi. It was common for the nation of Israel to build an altar at certain times as a memorial of some specific blessing that God had granted them. These altars were never built to false gods. The nation of Israel would choose to copy the ways of the pagans too often and they would build altars to false gods. However, this altar was to the true God. It was not something to worship at. It was something to remind the nation of Israel of God’s blessing.
Verse 16 tells us the purpose of this particular altar and its meaning. This altar was a reminder that the LORD would have war with Amalek from generation to generation. Amalek would never know the blessing of the LORD. We do not know if there are any Amalekites alive today, but we know that the spirit of Amalek is alive. Antisemitism has been around through every generation. Today we are seeing a resurgence of antisemitism. In Canada, our current government is not a friend of Israel. In the U.S., the current government is also not a friend of Israel. That spirit of hatred toward God’s chosen people is still alive. Those who choose to hate Israel can expect the same fate that the Amalekites faced. God promised Abraham that He would bless those who would bless Abraham and his descendants, and He would curse those who would curse Abraham and his descendants.
Israel can rest assured that God will take care of them, even when they choose to reject Him. The Jews have suffered greatly for rejecting the true God. However, there is still a nation of Israel. That nation will never be destroyed. Those who choose to curse the nation of Israel will be punished by God. God has used pagan nations in the past to punish Israel. He chose Babylon as a nation to punish them. He also wanted the Babylonians to know the true God. Hitler, under the influence of the Catholics and the Muslims, chose to try to annihilate the Jews. He failed and so will all those who seek to do the same. Iran and her cohorts are still plotting the destruction of Israel. One day they will be gone, but Israel will continue on. God made a promise to Abraham, and God keeps His Word.
In a similar manner, all people can know that God made a promise to mankind back in the Garden of Eden, after man sinned. He promised that the seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent. The Bible tells us that the seed of the woman is Jesus Christ. He came to this earth to suffer and die on the cross of Calvary. He shed His blood on that cross, making it possible for:
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God’s gift of salvation is available for all people. It does not matter if it is Jew or Gentile. All can be saved. All need to be saved. God will not force His salvation on anyone. He makes His offer of salvation available to all.
Those who are saved are commanded to make this offer known to all people in their generation. Born again Christians need to walk humbly with the LORD and seek to glorify Him so that others can see the blessing of knowing the true God.
The enemies of God will be dealt with by God. It is our duty to make His name known to them and that the lost might understand that if they want to fight against God, they will never win. No one will destroy God. No one will overthrow Him. The wise person humbly submits to the LORD and enjoys the blessings of the gift of eternal life.