Exodus 17: Raise The Banner

Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, “Give us water, that we may drink.”

So Moses said to them, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord?”

-        When we’re young in our relationship with Christ, this “give me” attitude that the Israelites had is common. But God doesn’t want us to stay young in our faith – He desires us to grow. First Peter 2:2 says, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” We are to desire the Word just as a baby desires milk. If you’ve ever given a baby milk, they get quite excited when they see that familiar bottle. This should make you stop and ask yourself, “Do I have a similar response toward the Lord when it comes to His word?” If any of my sons had repeatedly acted uninterested in their bottle, I’d become concerned. I’d start thinking, “Why does he not want his bottle? Is he teething? Is he tired? Is he sick?” The same approach could be used if you feel “beige” when it comes to reading God’s Word. Why don’t you want to read it? Are you hurting? Are you sick with sin? Don't feel guilty about it -- just go to God with it. He will help you see and He desires more than anything for you to crave Him. He's waiting for you.

-        Craving the pure milk of the word has purpose but we must grow up, too. We aren’t meant to have a diet of milk. Hebrews 5:12 says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Did you realize that your walk is to mature so you can teach? I don’t necessarily mean standing in front of others and teaching, but simply allowing your life to be a godly example to others. Go for the solid food of God's word.

3 And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

4 So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!”

5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”

And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

-        The rock which Moses struck was representative of Christ, our Rock and Foundation, whose death brought us full life. In John 7:37, Jesus stood up and said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Even during those dry seasons in our life, God offers rivers of living water so we are sustained.

-        “Is the Lord among us or not?” What a question for the Israelites to ask! They were fed by manna each morning; saw a cloud leading them during the day; and, a pillar of fire by night. Yet, they ask if the Lord is with them! Wow. Unfortunately, this attitude is not uncommon today. David wrote in Psalm 19, “The heavens declare the glory of God,” yet so many people are ignoring the obvious work of God. Was God evident to the Israelites? Yep. Did they believe? No! Seeing doesn’t necessarily bring about a heart of belief; faith is what believes. Faith is the confidence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Let’s start today in faith – trusting that all things work together for good to those who love God (Romans 8:28).

Victory over the Amalekites

8 Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. 9 And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 

-        This is the first time Joshua is mentioned in the Old Testament. Joshua will be Moses’ successor and lead the people into the Promise Land. You’ll notice that Joshua is a man of obedience. He didn’t hesitate to do what Moses asked, even though the mighty Amalekites were ready to fight. We’ll learn more about the characteristics of Joshua, a type of Christ, as we continue through Exodus, so pay careful attention to his heart.

11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands became heavy; so 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 the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

-        Notice that Moses didn’t go alone to the top of the hill – Aaron, his brother, and Hur (another elder), went with him. Friends, it is so important for you to have godly people go with you into your battles. When you become weary and need to sit, they are there to support you and lift you up – just as Aaron and Hur supported Moses and steadied his hands so the Israelites could defeat the Amalekites. Proverbs 18:24 reminds us that there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. I pray you all experience this type of friendship! If you’re a woman, then a godly woman who can encourage and support you; and if you’re a man, then another man of God who can sharpen and challenge you. If you haven’t found this relationship yet, continue to earnestly pray about it and become a friend to others.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner; 16 for he said, “Because the Lord has sworn: the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

-        “The-Lord-Is-My-Banner” I love the idea of raising a banner to the Lord. There are hundreds of “banners” we could carry throughout our day. If you were to look at the banner you’re carrying today, what would it say? I’ll admit there are days when my banner says, “Needs Coffee!” or “Lookout! I’m in a cranky mood!” But really, each day we have a choice of which banner we carry. Let’s be sure we are displaying a banner that glorifies Him.

-        I spent some time looking up banner references and thought I’d share a few verses for you to chew on:

o   Psalm 20:5 - “We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.”

o   Psalm 60:4 - You have given a banner to those who fear You, that it may be displayed because of the truth.

o   Song of Solomon 2:4 - He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love.

-      Gracious Lord, I pray that the name of God would be on my banner today. That I would display your truth with joy. And, as I raise my banner high, that you would place your own banner of love over me. Amen.