Exodus – God’s Way Out
It’s hard to be a Godly leader in the middle of the battle, in the middle of change and transition caused by a virus, or in the middle of getting from one place to another on life’s journey. When our normal routine is interrupted we get grumpy and accusing. We turn inward, placing blame on everyone around us. When the blame game wears out, we humans have a tendency to then look up and shake our fist at Almighty God and ask, like the Israelites, “Is God here with us, or not?”
In the middle of a this pandemic, I hear some people asking the same question, “Is God here with us, or not?” Some wonder if God knows what is going on and if He will intervene.
Exodus 17, The Message
1-2 Directed by God, the whole company of Israel moved on by stages from the Wilderness of Sin. They set camp at Rephidim. And there wasn’t a drop of water for the people to drink. The people took Moses to task: “Give us water to drink.” But Moses said, “Why pester me? Why are you testing God?”
3 But the people were thirsty for water there. They complained to Moses, “Why did you take us from Egypt and drag us out here with our children and animals to die of thirst?”
4 Moses cried out in prayer to God, “What can I do with these people? Any minute now they’ll kill me!”
5-6 God said to Moses, “Go on out ahead of the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel. Take the staff you used to strike the Nile. And go. I’m going to be present before you there on the rock at Horeb. You are to strike the rock. Water will gush out of it and the people will drink.”
6-7 Moses did what he said, with the elders of Israel right there watching. He named the place Massah (Testing-Place) and Meribah (Quarreling) because of the quarreling of the Israelites and because of their testing of God when they said, “Is God here with us, or not?”
8-9 Amalek came and fought Israel at Rephidim. Moses ordered Joshua: “Select some men for us and go out and fight Amalek. Tomorrow I will take my stand on top of the hill holding God’s staff.”
10-13 Joshua did what Moses ordered in order to fight Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. It turned out that whenever Moses raised his hands, Israel was winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek was winning. But Moses’ hands got tired. So they got a stone and set it under him. He sat on it and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side. So his hands remained steady until the sun went down. Joshua defeated Amalek and its army in battle.
14 God said to Moses, “Write this up as a reminder to Joshua, to keep it before him, because I will most certainly wipe the very memory of Amalek off the face of the Earth.”
15-16 Moses built an altar and named it “God My Banner.” He said,
Salute God’s rule!
God at war with Amalek
Always and forever!
WHAT WE LEARN…
Again the people do not trust God to provide water when it is not immediately available. (How quickly they forgot the manna He is providing daily!) To test God in this way, “Is God here with us, or not?”, is to act out of unbelief, demanding that he prove himself true. This is not the first time or the last that God’s people put Him to the test!
God’s people will be reminded of this very time of unbelief when commanded by God in Deuteronomy 6;16, “Do not test the Lord, Your God like you did in Massah. God Presence is forgotten when we falter in our faith, looking only at the problem and not to the Solution. On the other hand, God invites those whose faith is small to put him to the test (Mal 3:10) and let him prove his trustworthiness. God is God and we are not. May we never forget HIS faithfulness, goodness, and relentless love for us. What He is doing, is working for our good always.
When we accept and truly believe that He knows what He is doing and will indeed provide a way out of our present circumstance, providing for us all along the journey, we will grow in our faith and claim victory on the other side of our troubles.
God’s people are very dramatic (but we aren’t, are we?) and jump to “we’re all going to die, Moses” without thinking about how the problem of no water will be solved. Maybe it’s because, as slaves, they have always been told what to do, when to do it, conditioned not to think for themselves for generations in Egypt. They don’t know God and how He works. They’ve seen Him work in miraculous ways but God has not become a part of them from the inside out.
God is bringing them out of their past to teach them a new way of life with HIM. He will be teaching them about how to love and worship Him in holy communion with Him. He will demonstrate His love for them over and over until they “get it”.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE…!
Notice how the battle was won as long as Moses obeyed by holding up the staff of God. When Moses’ arms got tired, others ran to hold his arms in place. The battle is hard, friends, it’s time to hold up our leaders’ arms! We can do that in prayer, obedience, and encouragement. If called upon, it might take some physical labor, too.
AFTER the battle came worship. Moses’ first thought was giving God praise and honor for the victory. He built an altar to remember WHO did all the heavy lifting to defeat the enemy. Moses “raised a hallelujah”, like we sing today, to remind God’s people of His love and provision. His banner over us is love. May we never forget.
Instead of complaining and wondering “Is God here with us or not”, the people of Israel need to just love Him back they way He loves them. They need to believe, trust and have faith in the One who Created all, is in all and in control of all. These will be hard lessons in the wilderness, but necessary for their faith.
How about us? Are we in this virus wilderness of isolation asking the same question, “Is God with us, or not?”
It depends on the depths of our faith, doesn’t it? Do we believe in God or not?
Is He testing our faith?
What is the “banner” over your thinking today?
God was preparing a people through whom the Savior of the world could come. Amalekite attempts to destroy Israel put them in a deadly position. The dependence of victory on the raised staff showed that God, not Israel, was the source of Israel’s military victories.
And YES! God IS with us! God is and always will be, the Source of our victory.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Help us to continually overcome our doubts and fears in this troubling time and lean completely on you and your provisions for us. You know the way out and we must follow. Help us to obey your will and direction. Show us your truth continually. Help us to know our enemy, too, so we will readily recognize the lies He spreads like a virus to destroy our faith and belief in You. Fight out battles for us for we believe in You.
In Jesus Name, Amen. I believe.