Introduction: We saw at the end of last week’s Bible notes that God gave Israel a very comforting, unlooked for and undeserved sign of His saving power: Up on the mountain above them Israel beheld the Banner of God’s victory held up by Moses as the rod of God. In this way the LORD reasserted His power to save His people – even from the bloodthirsty, implacable and terrifying Amalekites. As we behold in this week’s notes other signs of God’s presence in the war against Amalek, may we rejoice that God gives us so many “rallying points” upon which we can fix our eyes of faith in order to find strength for our daily conflicts.
Monday: read Exodus 17:9-10 and Hebrews 13:5. We find strength for our faith by beholding God dividing up responsibilities for the battle with Amalek. While Moses went up with Aaron and Hur to pray for the battle on the top of the hill, Joshua led Israel against the foe down on the plain. We now behold God’s raising up of Joshua to be the general of the army of the LORD. He will lead Israel all the way into the Promised Land as one of only two Israelite men to survive the forty years in the desert. After those forty years and the many trials of the desert, the LORD will again repeat words which He must have first spoken to Joshua as he faced Amalek in the battle before us in Exodus 17:
As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them… Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:5,6 & 9)
Meditate and Pray: What reassurance Joshua had from the LORD in facing even the most daunting of enemies! Do we not also find the same comfort since God takes His words of reassurance to Joshua and applies them to the whole church in Hebrews 13:5?
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said,
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Tues./Weds: read Exodus 17:10-12 and Ephesians 4:1-6. It is noteworthy that, while Moses finds the physically easier but spiritually deeper task of prayer in Exodus 17:11 draining and exhausting, there is no mention of any lessening of Joshua’s strength to fight for the LORD in Exodus 17:10.
Why is that? The Holy Spirit of God must have sustained Joshua in battle in a miraculous way – even when Moses’ arms were drooping and the Amalekites were winning! Well then, where was this Spirit when it came to supporting Moses’ in the far more important job of intercession on top of the hill? Why is it that spiritual duties are so much more exhausting than even dangerous physical ones like warfare?
Matthew Henry puts it this way: We do not find that Joshua’s hands were heavy in fighting, but Moses’s hands were heavy in praying. The more spiritual any service is the more apt we are to fail and flag in it. Praying work, if done with due intenseness of mind and vigour of affection, will be found hard work, and, though the spirit be willing, the flesh will be weak.
But does that mean Moses is left to his own weak resources? Will the battle be lost because he could not “watch and pray”? No! How wonderful that the Spirit of God stirred up strength in Aaron and Hur to step in and hold up Moses’ arms at just the right time! Marvelous, isn’t it? The bond of the Spirit means that other believers can bear us up when our faith fails! Isn’t that exactly what Paul speaks about in Ephesians 4:3-6? Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Meditate and Pray: Give God glory for the unity of the saints, and the privilege of helping each other at times of weakness. Oh may the LORD make us that kind of church! Use hymn # 359:
Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.
Before our Father’s throne
We pour our ardent prayers;
Our fears, our hopes, our aims are one
Our comforts and our cares.
We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.
This glorious hope revives
Our courage by the way;
While each in expectation lives,
And longs to see the day.
Thursday: read Exodus 17:10-12 and Luke 22:39-46. It is heartening to see how the LORD draws Moses, Aaron, Hur and Joshua together in the bonds of prayer support in order for them to face the danger of Amalek together. When we come to our Savior “holding up His hands” in intercession before going to do battle with sin and Satan on the Cross, there are no human helpers found in Luke 22:39-46. They all fall asleep! Yet the Spirit of God who upheld both Moses and Joshua on the battlefield is still present to enable Jesus to go forward, “conquering and to conquer”!
Prayer of reflection: Father, thank you that your Holy Spirit still musters us for battle on this earth. Thank you that He still goes forward to engage the enemy in our day, armed with the holy humanity of our Savior Jesus Christ. Even more, thank you Holy Spirit for indwelling us with your power just as you upheld Moses and Joshua for their conflicts. Please send down all the help we need in order to face the foes of unbelief and sin in our day! Thank you that your angels also appeared to strengthen your Son as He faced death, (Luke 22:43). Oh God of Hosts, send forth your angels as ministering spirits to strengthen us even in the face of the shedding of our blood or even our deaths. Amen.
Friday: read Exodus 17:13-14. Joshua’s victory was indeed a victory for the ages. Though we will return next week to examine more closely the altar which Moses built and the eternal demise of Amalek, we conclude this week’s notes by savoring what this victory over Amalek must have meant to Joshua, and how the LORD was determined to strengthen Joshua for the task at hand just as He had strengthened Moses. We turn to Rev. Bill Harrell’s March 2011 Bible notes to sum up Joshua’s calling to lead God’s people to victory:
The reason that no human foe would be able to withstand Joshua was that the presence and
power of God would be with this man of His choosing. The divine presence would shield Joshua
from any opposition that might arise within Israel as well as whatever attacks would surely come
upon him from enemies outside of the covenant nation. God promised to be with Joshua as He
had previously been with Moses. The sustaining and prevailing power of God’s presence had
been demonstrated for the course of forty years wherein the Lord upheld Moses. Joshua could
rely on similar divine enabling, and at the end of his life he could give eloquent and moving
testimony to how faithfully God had fulfilled all of His promises to him and to Israel (Josh.
23). If God is with us, what other company and help do we require? If God is for us, who in
heaven or on earth or under the earth can prevail against us (Rom. 8:31ff)?