Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Exodus 17:9, 11-13, 15 NASB

"'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...'" (17:9)  It came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed and when he let his hand down Amalek prevailed.  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.  So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people..." (17:11-13)  "[Then Moses] built an altar, and named it "The LORD is My Banner'", (17:15).

The wilderness experience, as Israel headed on a direct course to Canaan, was not a banner moment in their history.  About the only thing they excelled at was murmuring and complaining.  That kind of stuff is no fun to deal with anytime, but especially in a close, community environment. Food and water, or lack of it, were some of the main points of contention, and Moses, being the leader, was, in their eyes, responsible.  The writer uses words like "grumbled" and quarreled" when the people expressed their feelings against Moses, which was almost more than he could bear. Then, to top it all off, there came this sudden, sneak attack by a marauding group called the Amelikites (Exodus 17:8).  All of us have had those moments in our lives when things are piling up on us and, then, on top of it all, there comes a crisis.  It's a telling moment, and some don't handle it well at all, almost coming apart with the pressure.  We call it "The straw that broke the camel's back."  These experiences in life can quickly demoralize the spirit of a man, especially if we try to go it alone.  All of us need someone else to support us on our leaning side, especially in these times of great stress. Wise is the man who knows this.  Moses did.  The Joshuas and Hurs in our lives are God's precious gifts to us, to help hold us up when the battle goes long and hard.  With God's people to help sustain us in the battle, our hearts rise in gratitude to God who has again made a way of escape.  Here our hearts move from weariness to worship.  We feel the help of God to keep going.  With his spirit revived, "he built an altar, and named it "The LORD is My Banner'", (17:15).  A banner was a signal to the people to rally to God and His cause. It stood for the One who delivers, or who gives victory. Remember, these were the "grumblers".  Moses was contradicting this spirit with a different spirit.  Oh, there is something about someone who knows the LORD and who knows victory in their life.  They are the people whom "grumblers" desperately need to hear.  May God help us to be that voice that gets people focused on God and His cause instead of their own wants, needs and feelings.  Amen!

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