Battles in the Wilderness

Scripture Passage: 
Exodus 17:1-16

INTRODUCTION: Israel comes to a way station in the wilderness and must fight some new battles. Her first battle is with the elements: there is no water. This shows us that the natural problems of life can be a great trial for us and can tempt us to murmur against God. The second battle is with a visible enemy: Amalek. Amalek grieves Israel through much of the Old Testament. We battle Amalek in the form of the flesh.

  1. WATER OUT OF THE ROCK (Exodus 17:1-7)
    1. The Travels of Israel (Exodus 17:1)
      1. From the wilderness of Sin
        1. According to the commandment of the Lord
        2. He led them by the cloud and fire (Exodus 13:21-22).
        3. God brought them to a place of no water.
      2. To pitch in Rephidim; NOTE: The Israelites were in Rephidim for the events of Exodus 17-18 and did not leave until Exodus 19:2 when they depart to go to Mount Sinai.
      3. There was no water to drink. NOTE: This is the second of four times the Israelites complain of no water in the wilderness.
        1. The first time (Exodus 15:22-25) they kept wandering until they came to the bitter waters of Marah which God made sweet by having Moses cut down a tree and cast it into the waters.
        2. The second time (Exodus 17:1-6) God gives Israel water out of the rock when Moses smites it with his rod.
        3. The third time (Numbers 20:1-11) God gives water out of the rock the second time. However, Moses disobeys the Lord by smiting the rock again when he was supposed to talk to it.
        4. The fourth time (Numbers 21:5, 16-18) God has the Israelites dig a well.
    2. The Murmuring of Israel (Exodus 17:2-3)
      1. They chided with Moses. The word chide means to scold.
      2. They tempted the Lord [to tempt the Lord means to provoke Him or to test His patience]; (Exodus 17:2; Numbers 14:22; Deuteronomy 6:16; Psalm 78:41, 56; 1 Corinthians 10:9)
      3. They murmured against Moses (Exodus 17:3; Psalm 106:25; 1 Corinthians 10:10).
        1. The people gave credit to Moses for bringing them out of Egypt, rather than the Lord.
        2. The people falsely accuse Moses of a desire to kill them, their children, and their cattle.
        3. These are common sins of complaining.
          1. Complaining unveils the heart (John 6:56-61; Jude 1:16).
          2. Complaining hinders education (Isaiah 29:24).
          3. Complaining troubles the soul (Psalm 77:3).
          4. Complaining breeds lies (Numbers 16:30-41; Deuteronomy 1:27).
          5. Complaining displeases the Lord (Numbers 11:1).
    3. The Word from God (Exodus 17:4-5)
      1. Moses cried unto the Lord (Exodus 17:4).
        1. What shall I do unto this people? The greatest problems we will have in this world will be with people, but the only eternal good we can do in this world is to make a difference with people.
        2. They be ready to stone me.
          1. Moses (Exodus 17:4)
          2. Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14:6-10)
          3. David (1 Samuel 30:6)
          4. Jesus (John 8:59; John 10:31)
          5. Stephen (Acts 7:59)
          6. Paul (Acts 14:19)
      2. The Lord gives His instructions (Exodus 17:5).
        1. Go on before the people.
        2. Take of the elders.
        3. Take your rod.
        4. Go.
    4. The Water from the Rock (Exodus 17:6)
      1. The presence of the Lord; “I will stand before thee there.”
      2. The smiting of the rock – a type of the crucified Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4; Isaiah 53:4-6)
      3. The water out of the rock – a type of everlasting life (John 4:14; John 7:38)
    5. The Name of the Place (Exodus 17:7)
      1. Massah – meaning temptation (Deuteronomy 6:16)
      2. Meribah – meaning chiding or strife (Numbers 20:13; Deuteronomy 33:8)
  2. VICTORY OVER AMALEK (Exodus 17:8-16)
    1. The Battle with Amalek (Exodus 17:8-10)
      1. Amalek attacked when Israel’s relationship was not right with the Lord (Exodus 17:7-8).
      2. Amalek attacked Israel in Rephidim, which means “rests” (Exodus 17:8).
      3. Moses calls upon Joshua to gather the troops (Exodus 17:9).
      4. Moses, Aaron and Hur travel up to the top of the hill (Exodus 17:9).
    2. The People of God Prevail (Exodus 17:11-13)
      1. Israel prevailed when Moses held his hands up, but Amalek prevailed when the hands of Moses went down (Exodus 17:11).
      2. Moses needed help in holding up his hands (Exodus 17:12).
        1. Moses’ hands were heavy.
        2. They placed a stone under him so he could sit down.
        3. Aaron and Hur each held up a hand of Moses.
        4. Moses’ hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
      3. Joshua and the people of God prevailed over Amalek (Exodus 17:13).
    3. God’s Prophecy against Amalek (Exodus 17:14-16)
      1. God promises to destroy Amalek (Exodus 17:14).
        1. God’s desire to preserve His words
          1. Write this for a memorial in a book.
          2. Rehearse it in the ears of Joshua.
        2. God’s riddance of Amalek from under heaven
      2. Moses builds an altar to the Lord (Exodus 17:15-16).
        1. He calls it Jehovah-nissi [meaning The Lord my banner].
          1. Used in context of a battle and victory over the Amalekites (Exodus 17:8-16). Joshua led the army of Israel and Moses prayed while Aaron and Hur held up his hands.
          2. The banner refers to a battle standard (Song of Solomon 6:4; see also Psalm 20:5; Psalm 60:4). Each unit in an army would follow behind its proper banner. Moses is teaching the Israelites that the banner they should follow is the LORD Himself. If they will look to Him, as Moses did in prayer during the battle, He will give them the victory.
        2. Because the Lord has promised to make war on Amalek (Exodus 17:16)

CONCLUSION: Many of the problems of the Israelites came from lack of faith in the Lord and His watchcare over them. They only saw the visible and did not look beyond. We have that problem too. We must learn to look to the God who is invisible as Moses did (Hebrews 11:27).

David Reagan and Andrew Ray

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 20:4

The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.