About Jesus      Steve Sweetman

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ch. 17:1-7    ch. 17:8-16

Water From The Rock  (ch. 17:1 - 7)   


Verse 1 tells us that Israel followed the Lord's directions to where to go.  At this point they were obeying the Lord.  I say "at this point" because they start complaining in verse 2.  They complain that where the Lord led them there was no water.  As usual, Moses got the brunt of the complaints since he was their leader.


The question is asked, "why would God lead them to a place where there was no water?"  The answer is simple.  Trust.  God wanted to build trust in them as He wants to build trust in us.  Trust in God cannot come when everything is handed to us.  Trust only comes through testing.  The test at this time was "no water". 


Moses' answer to Israel was two-fold.  He first asked them, "why do you quarrel with me?"  The question is meant to imply that even though he was their leader, the directions given Israel was from God.  They should be quarrelling to God Himself. 


The next question the Moses asked in response was, "why do you put the Lord to the test?"  My question is, "who is testing who in this situation?"   I see the lack of water as a test of trust from God.  Moses seems to say that Israel is testing God by complaining.  Both are right.  Israel was in fact failing God's test, and even worse, they were criticizing His directions.  There sin was thus two-fold.


In verse 3 Israel responds to Moses as they had before.  They ask why Moses led them out of Egypt, only to die of thirst in the desert?"  You will see this tendency in Israel all the way through the Old Testament.  Sometimes they trust God and sometimes they don't.  When God does a miracle, they trust, when He withholds a miracle to build trust, they don't trust.  So, what was meant to build trust in fact doesn't because they fail the test.


As a result of Israel's pressure on Moses, he cries out to the Lord, asking, "what am I to do with these people?"  You can tell that Moses is frustrated with Israel. 


In verses 5 through 6 God answers Moses by telling him to go to a certain place with the elders, take his staff, and strike a rock.  Once Moses would strike the rock, water would come out for all the people to drink.  Moses did just that, and God provided a miracle  for those who would not trust Him.  We see God's graciousness here. 


I've said this before, but many Sunday morning sermons have been too hard on Israel.  They had no water to drink.  Water is vital four our survival.  I'm sure many of us would complain as well.      


In verse 7 Moses called that place by two names, Massah and Meribah.  He called this place by these names because Israel quarreled.  They quarreled with Moses, and in turn, really, they quarreled with God.  Moses also says that Israel tested God by saying, "is the Lord among us or not?"


This question is an interesting question.  Just because God had not provided the latest miracle, they wondered if God was really with them.  It is clear from the account that God was with them.  Christians are the same today.  When things don't go as expected, or when things are in a bit of a lull, we think God is not with us, when in fact He is, or, probably is.  It is clear from this event and other Old Testament events that God is always with His people, even in those times, when from our perspective, He doesn't seem to be with us.


The Amalekites Defeated (ch. 17:8 - 16)   


We learn in verse 8 that the Amalekites mounted an attack against Israel.  In response Moses asked Joshua to put together an army to fight.  This is the first mention of Joshua in the Bible.  He will become an important person in Old Testament Jewish history.


The name Joshua means "Yahweh delivers".  The Greek equivalent that is translated into English is Jesus.  Most scholars see Joshua as a type of Jesus.  Many Bible teachers see the whole book of Joshua as being prophetic of Jesus.  Joshua would have been born in Egypt.  He was of the tribe of Ephraim.  God eventually chose Joshua to replace Moses.  He was a religious leader, a military leader, and a political leader, just as Jesus Himself is. Joshua led Israel into Canaan.   


From verses 9 to 13 the text states the event of this battle between Israel and the Amalekites.  Moses, Aaron, and another man named Hur, went to the top of a hill.  Moses lifted his hand with the staff of God raised high.  As long as the staff was raised, Israel would be winning, but when he got tired and lowered his hand, Israel would be losing.  So Aaron and Hur actually had to help Moses keep his hand raised.  Israel eventually won the battle.


Here we have God fighting for Israel, something that He will do at the end of this age as well.


In verse 14 God asks Moses to write this event on a tablet of stone as a memorial.  God also wanted to make sure that Joshua heard and understood what had happened.  Joshua was out fighting.  He did not actually see the staff of God being raised in the air by Moses.  Joshua is about to become a very important man in Israeli history, and for that reason, God wanted Joshua to understand that He would fight for Israel. 


Moses' staff has now been used miraculously on many occasions.  In this chapter it is now called "the staff of God".  A staff in those days was used for a few reasons.  One important reason was its use among national leaders.  It was a symbol of authority.  So, when Moses raised "the staff of God", it was as if God's authority would rule.  If the "staff of God" was lowered, then God's rule was set aside.  There is symbolism here.  Israel, and Christians today, need to understand God's authority and implement it when necessary.  Jesus stated that "all authority" was given to Him, and He was sending His disciples out into the world as His representatives.  We don't need a staff as Moses had.  We have the staff within us in the form of the Holy Spirit, and the commission that Jesus gave us to work with the Holy Spirit to proclaim victory for those who will trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.


Amaleck was the grandson of Esau.  In Duet. 24:17 and 18 we see this attack and note that Amaleck did kill some Israelis.  God told Moses that He would blot Amaleck from their memories. This was the first battle that Israel had as a nation.  The Amalekites might well have wanted this new source of water that the Lord provided for Israel. 


It is interesting that soon after leaving Egypt , battles began between Israel and her enemies, much like it does when we become Christians.  Once giving our lives to Jesus, we begin the fight as well, the fight between flesh and spirit, between our carnal man and the Holy Spirit.   


Verses 15 and 16 close this chapter.  Moses built an altar and called it "the Lord is my Banner".  This is a term of victory.  It is like waving a flag of victory over ones enemies. The reason why Moses named this altar "the Lord if my Banner" is because hands were raised in victory. 


We often raise our hands to the Lord in worship.  They can be raised in surrender to Him, or they can be raised in a declaration that He is the one who fights on our behalf.  We are victorious.  Of course we're not talking bout physical fighting as Christians.  There is a spiritual battle going on and when we trust in our Lord, He will fight for us.  This point is important in the day in which Islam extremists fight for their faith.  Christians  don't fight in a physical or a material way.  Our fight is spiritual.    


One thought about raised hands to the Lord is that I believe if you don't raise your hands in surrender to Jesus,  you will be unable to raise your hands in victory.  Without surrender, there is no victory.

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