The Battle Belongs to the Lord
Shortly after Moses led the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, they were heading up the Wadi Feiran toward the oasis of Rephidim when Amalek struck them from the rear. Moses later wrote in Deuteronomy 25:17-18, “Remember what the Amalekites did to you on the journey after you left Egypt. They met you along the way and attacked all your stragglers from behind when you were tired and weary.
There is a word for “ambush” in Hebrew, but the word Moses used here is translated “cut off”. It is related to a word that means “tail”. Amalek attacked from the rear, picking off and plundering all those who had fallen behind. This attack was in character of the Amalekites; ancient Caananite documents describe the Amalekites as the Khabbati, or “plunderers.”
Moses gave a reason why they attacked the Israelites. He said in verse 18, “They did not fear God.” They didn’t realize that this attack was directed against God and His plan to not only free the Israelites and bring them to the promised land, but also part of His master plan to bring salvation to the world. This kind of attack against God and His plan continues to this very day.
The Amalekites were the descendants of the immoral and ungodly Esau, who according to Hebrews 12:16, was an “immoral and irreverent person who sold his birthright in exchange for a single meal.”
Balaam said in Numbers 24:20, that Amalek was the first among the nations to declare war on God and his people, but his future is destruction. This was the first of a history of wars that continues today, led by Satan against God and the Church.
Amalek’s army was equipped with chariots, javelins, swords, and bows. At this time, Israel had no army, no experienced military leaders, and just a few weapons of war. What Amalek didn’t realize was that the Israelites had God. The Lord took an oath against Amalek, who dared to raise a hand against those He loved. Exodus 17:14, “I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek under heaven.”
Here is how Amalek was defeated. Moses instructed Joshua to go fight against Amalek. He stood on the hilltop Jebel Tahuneh, with Aaron and Hur, watching with God’s staff in his hand. “While Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, but whenever he put his hand down, Amalek prevailed. When Moses’s hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat down on it. Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down. So, Joshua defeated Amalek and his army with the sword.”
Behind every human opponent we face today lies the invisible power of darkness. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual powers that control them. For that reason, “we do not wage war according to the flesh, since the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds” 2 Corinthians 10:4.
The two main points I want to make is:
1. We do not want to find ourselves tired, weak and weary, stragglers falling behind. This is why we are instructed not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. We need each other in order to encourage and exhort one another towards Godliness. Trying to do things on our own denies us the opportunity for fellowship. If you’re not already doing so, join others in Bible study, prayer, and fellowship.
2. The greatest weapon in our arsenal is prayer! This is our direct line to the source of our power and strength. Just as Moses lifted God’s staff toward heaven, we need to lift up our prayers to God who, as the Israelites sang out in Exodus 15:3, is our warrior.