Exodus 17: Water from the Rock

1 All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

-As with last chapter, I challenge you to go three days without water and nothing but bread and not complain yourself. We look at the Israelites as being so utterly foolish but could you and I actually be in this situation and not complain? Especially for those of us in the United States, we complain if the power goes out or if our cell phone has a bad signal or if the Internet isn’t working! The question I ask here is why has God pushed the people to the point of near starvation before supplying bread and is now pushing them, a second time, towards the point of death from thirst? God is not cruel and is not punishing the people by making them suffer. The lesson I am deriving from this is no matter what, no matter how disciplined we are, we are still slaves of the flesh. We are still sinners that seek self-preservation and self-benefit in the end no matter what and we must understand this to understand our complete utter helplessness before God. We literally die without Him. I believe the people here were truly driven to the point of near death so that God can show them that they 100% depend on them. Many also speculate it is because God only gives us what we need but this is not always true. God often gives in abundance and He is not always about efficient use of resources. Sometimes, even with Jesus, there was plenty to eat. God is an infinite God and His resources are not limited. He is not impressed by you and I’s ability to live within our own means. He may call us to do this, or He may not. He may choose to bless us with more than enough. And someone who has more than enough is not less of a person than someone who barely has enough. We should not judge in this way. The bible tells us if we give everything we have, it will be given double back to us. But if our motive is selfish even in our giving, don’t expect anything back. If we choose to live barely within our means then we are choosing this lifestyle and it is not our fault if we get nothing back.

4 So Moses cried to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

-Moses takes the elders likely because the people need trusted authority figures to maintain peace. God of course wants all men to bow to Him as absolute authority and ruler but also understands our nature and our need for “lesser” leaders and representatives. This is an early sign of government that the people will have in the future. It is the same with governments now and even pastors and elders within our churches. We are social beings and need this kind of order and structure for stability.
Israel Defeats Amalek
8 Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. 9 So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.

-This is the first mention of Joshua in the bible. He is the military leader of Israel and the future successor to Moses who leads the Israelites into the promised land. We always see out of Joshua excellent obedience above and beyond what would ordinarily be expected and he is often forgotten among the righteous men of the bible being overshadowed by King David and Moses. Joseph and Joshua are probably the two most obedient, godly men in the bible before Christ. There of course may be many we do not know about or just don’t have much information such as Enoch that may technically better but this is beside the point. The point is God is good and what makes a good man is submission to God.

11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

-I find this imagery quite funny. Can you imagine two men holding up another man’s hand while placing a rock underneath so he can sit down? It must have looked hysterical. But the point of this is not that Moses is doing some kind of “magic spell”. Always, 100% of the time, when we are looking towards God, He fights for us. When we do not, no matter the reason even if it is simply fatigue, He may stop. This is another example of how God is showing us our physical limitations and because we are slaves to the flesh and stuck in these limited bodies, we will always depend on Him. There’s also a great lesson in here about working together as a team to pick each other up to overcome our limitations that we have alone. Imagine a pastor without elders or any kind of support team? Would he be able to look to God always, 100% of the time? What if he did not have a supportive wife either? We need each other, even to help us support God.

13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. 14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, 16 saying, “A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

-A promise is made that all Amalek’s will be destroyed and blotted out but it also says “The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation”. This has opened up many interpretations in order to find out exactly who is descended from Amalekites. The last mention of Amalekites is around the time of 1 Chronicles and Psalms and the people were wiped out with the death of the Amalekites king Agag. But then in the story of Esther, Haman is said to be an Agagite so he would have descended from the Amalekites. Once again we are looking at “the finger” instead of where it is being pointed at. The point is, God will deal with all of Israel’s enemies.

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