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We, as the people of God, face a threefold enemy: the world, the flesh and the devil.
The devil is pictured in the form of Pharaoh in the beginning of Exodus. The Israelites were delivered from his dominion by blood and by power.
The world is seen in Egypt itself, and God separated them from that when they crossed the Red Sea. So the Lord Jesus “gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us from this present evil world” (Galatians 1.4).
However, they took the flesh with them, and we do also.
There were constant outbreaks of carnality, and 1st Corinthians, chapter 10 records that “with many of them God was not well pleased.” Exodus 17 teaches us lessons in type to help us deal with the flesh.
May we, like Joshua’s chosen men, rise to do battle and to know the victory over our greatest enemy.
Exodus 17.8-16 “Then came Amalek”
The timing of the attack is emphasised in verse 8. It throws us back to consider the conditions amongst the Israelites when this happened.
The naming of the place by Moses as Massah and Meribah is a testimony to the carnal behaviour of the people. They tempted the Lord, and strife had broken out between themselves and their leaders. They had lost the sense of the Lord’s provision, purpose and presence in verse 3 and verse 7. Even though Moses’ appeal and miraculous action in verse 6 brought floods of satisfying streams out of the rock, the people had opened the door to an attack by Amalek.
Amalek is surely a telling picture of the flesh as the inveterate enemy of the Lord’s people. The antitypical passage in the New Testament that deals with the flesh is surely Galatians chapter 5, where Paul raises a number of principles to help the believer overcome the flesh.
In order not to fulfil the lusts of the flesh, we need Regulated feet, so that Paul writes: “walk in the Spirit.”
We also need to understand that the flesh is a Relentless foe, for “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit.” This is an enemy that never lets up.
Paul speaks of the works of the flesh and lists some Revealing features: “… the works of the flesh are … these” (Galatians 5.19-21). Let us ensure that we never practise any of these.
However, there is now a whole set of Spirit-given graces as a Replacement strategy, provided in “The fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5.22-23). These graces are listed as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” And, in a statement which is simultaneously simple and profound, Paul adds: “against such there is no law.”
Finally, Paul demonstrates that the flesh cannot be improved or controlled, and we must take a Ruthless stand against it (verse 24). “They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.” Notice that the fight against Amalek was taken in the valley and on the hill. In the valley we have warriors, and on the hill intercessors!
On the hill there is Moses the mediator, Aaron the priest, and Hur, a prince of the tribe of Judah. Aaron and Hur hold up the heavy hands of Moses. This speaks of moral support in prayer and how necessary this is. When a brother prays publicly in the prayer meeting, do we silently support and uphold him as he leads the company?
In 1st Timothy 2.8, Paul instructs the males to pray everywhere “lifting up holy hands.” This emphasises moral suitability in prayer. He that ascends into the hill of the Lord must have clean hands! (Psalm 24)
Then, in Hebrews 12, the Spirit of God instructs us to “lift up the hands that hang down.” Here, there is the requirement for moral strength, so that we do not become enfeebled in the matter of spiritual intercession.
Verse 12 then records the moral steadfastness of the intercessors, for “Moses’ hands were steady until the going down of the sun.” It encourages us to know that prevailing prayer will surely win the victory!
This enabled Joshua to break the power of Amalek (verse 13 – JND Translation) with the edge of the sword. So we have learned how the flesh can be overcome in our experience: Submission to the Spirit of God, intercession at the throne of God, and the application of the word of God!
In the remainder of the chapter, attention is drawn to the book, the blotting out of Amalek, the building of an altar, and the banner.
What was written in the book was not just a record of what took place, but the import of it was to be rehearsed in the ears of Joshua. There needs to be repeated recourse to the inspired Word so that its freshness is always with us.
God’s pronouncement regarding the blotting out of Amalek was absolute and would come to pass. There will be a day when the flesh will be eradicated from these bodies of ours. When the Saviour comes at the Rapture, our body of humiliation will be fashioned like unto His own body of glory (Philippians 3.21).
In verse 15, Moses built an altar (the first since leaving Egypt), no doubt to worship but also as a witness that the victory was all of God. Let us acknowledge that – from start to finish – it is all of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us.
The name Jehovah-Nissi (the Lord my banner) was given to it.
The Psalmist writes: “Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah. That Thy beloved may be delivered; save with Thy right hand, and hear me.” (Psalm 60.4-5)
We do well to remember that “God is stronger than our foes.”