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Wenstrom Bible Ministries Marion, Iowa Pastor-Teacher Bill Wenstrom www.wenstrom.org. Sunday January 15, 2012 Journey Through The Bible Series: Exodus 17-The Lord Provides Water For Israelites At Rephidim And Victory Over The Amalekites On The Battlefield Lesson # 18.

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Wenstrom Bible MinistriesMarion, IowaPastor-Teacher Bill Wenstromwww.wenstrom.org

Sunday January 15, 2012Journey Through The Bible Series: Exodus 17-The Lord Provides Water For Israelites At Rephidim And Victory Over The Amalekites On The BattlefieldLesson # 18

Please turn in your Bibles to Exodus 17:1.

In Exodus 17:1-7, we have the Lord providing water for the Israelites at Rephidim in response to their complaining against Moses.

Exodus 17:1 Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the Lord, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?”

3 But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from 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 to this people? A little more and they will stone me.”

5 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at 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 He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us, or not?” (NASB95)

This pericope contains the first of two provisions by the Lord for the nation of Israel, namely water.

Verse 1 tell us that the Israelites journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin as commanded by the Lord.

Numbers 33:12-14 informs the reader that before camping at Rephidim, they stopped at Dophkah and Alush.

Traditionally, Rephidim is thought to be located in present-day Wadi Refayld, which is near Jebel Musa, which is a supposed site of Mount Sinai.

The Israelites were traveling from place to place in the wilderness of Sin as evidenced by the fact that the places stopped at are located in this wilderness.

“Rephidim” is the masculine singular proper noun rep̄î∙ḏîm (רְפִידִים) (ref-ee-deem´), which means “camping place” or “resting place” and was a station between the wilderness of Sin and the wilderness of Sinai.

The text is clear that the Lord led them to this place in order to test their faith.

Verses 2 and 3 say that the Israelites failed the test and complained to Moses about the lack of water.

Notice again, that Moses teaches the Israelites that when they complain to him about the lack of water, they are in actuality complaining to the Lord since he is the Lord’s servant and representative.

Moses was simply following God’s orders.

Therefore, to complain to Moses was a complaint against the Lord.

They were not waiting for the Lord to provide the water for them as evidenced by the fact that they complain to Moses thinking that their complaint will result in their receiving their demand for water.

To put God to the test means that the Israelites were expressing doubt in the Lord’s ability to provide for them.

They again have failed to recall everything the Lord had done for them up to this point in the narrative.

If they had, they would have kept silent and waited upon the Lord to come through and provide the water in His timing.

They have forgotten that He has been faithful to them.

Faithfulness is one of the attributes of God as related to moral beings (Deut. 7:9; 32:4; Lam. 3:23; Isa. 49:7; Hos. 11:12; Ps. 25:10; 33:4; 89:1-8; 91:4; 96:13; 98:3; 100:5; 119:75; 1 Cor. 1:9; 10:13; 2 Cor. 1:18; 1 Thess. 5:23; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 2 Tim. 2:13; Jn. 1:9; Heb. 10:23; 1 Pet. 4:19; Rev. 19:11).

It is one of the relative attributes of God meaning that it is related to God’s relationship to men.

Faithfulness characterizes God’s loyalty to His covenant people Israel.

Deuteronomy 6:16 prohibits the Israelites from putting the Lord to the test.

Psalm 95:8 does the same.

In 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, for the benefit of the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul uses the Exodus generation as an example of those who put the Lord to the test and were disciplined by Him for it.

The Israelites’ statement in Exodus 17:3 echoes their statement to Moses in Exodus 16:2-3 where in both instances they accuse him of attempting to kill them and their children and livestock.

Exodus 17:4 says that Moses took this problem to the Lord, which is a good example for all of us.

This was one of the great character traits of Moses (cf. 15:25; 32:30; 33:8; Numbers 11:2, 11; 12:13; 14:13-19).

However, this is all he did correctly since he handled the Israelites’ protest incorrectly.

In Exodus 16:6-8, he assured them that God will provide for them and that he was only God’s representative.

But here in Exodus 17:4, he is panicked and is in fear of his life.

He is paying attention to his own welfare here rather than affirming and asserting the will of God.

So Moses is showing a lack of faith in the Lord’s ability to protect him as a result of the Israelites lack of faith in the Lord’s ability to provide water for them.

Therefore, this rebellion at Rephidim is noted in other places of Scripture as not only Israel’s failure (Numbers 20:13, 24; 27:14; Deuteronomy 6:16; 9:22; 33:8; Psalm 81:7; 95:8; Hebrews 3:8) but also Moses and Aaron’s failure (Numbers 27:14; 20:24; Deuteronomy 32:51; Psalm 106:32).

So in Exodus 17:5-6, we have the Lord instructing Moses to get out in front of the people and take some of their elders and his staff with which he struck the Nile and then strike the rock at Horeb.

This would result in water coming from the rock, which of course, would be another miracle that the Israelites had witnessed which was designed to inspire faith in the Lord.

The rock is a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus Christ according to 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (cf. Psalm 61:2; 78:35; 1 Peter 2:6-8).

In the same way that the striking of the rock produced the blessing of water for Israelite in dry land so the death of Christ produces the blessing of salvation in the devil’s world crippled by sin.

Exodus 17:7 says that Moses named the location of the water at the base of Mount Sinai “both Massah and Meribah.”

The former means “test” commemorating this location as the place in which Israel put the Lord to the test and the Lord tested Israel’s faith.

The latter literally means “quarrel, strife, contention” or “place of complaint” memorializing Israel’s complaining against the Lord.

The rhetorical question “is not the Lord among us or not?” demands a positive response from the Israelites and is a rebuke against them for their lack of faith in the Lord to provide water for them at Rephidim.

Exodus 17:8 Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. 9 So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”

10 Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.

12 But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then 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 one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. 13 So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar and named it The Lord is My Banner; 16 and he said, “The Lord has sworn; the Lord will have war against Amalek from generation to generation.” (NASB95)

This pericope contains the second provision by the Lord for the nation of Israel, namely victory over the Amalekites on the battle field.

Verse 8 says that the Amalekites fought against the Israelites at Rephidim.

Amalek was a grandson of Esau and his parents were Esau’s son Eliphaz and his concubine Timna (Genesis 36:12).

The Amalekites were a warlike tribe, living south of Canaan on the road to the land of Canaan and when Israel did journey to Canaan, they stood against Israel to war.

This first military confrontation was memorable because Aaron and Hur held Moses’ arms up as he held the rod of God so that Joshua and the Israelite army could defeat the Amalekites (See Exodus 17:8-16).

Exodus 17:8-16 records God declaring war on the Amalekites “from generation to generation.”

Israelite armies fought them in both Saul (See 1 Samuel 15:2) and David’s reign (See 1 Samuel 27:8; 30:1-20) and they were eventually destroyed during the reign of Hezekiah (See 1 Chronicles 4:43).

The Israelites evidently had a little bit of warning since Moses has time to give instructions to Joshua, his top lieutenant to launch a counter attack against the Amalekites.

In fact, Moses tells Joshua to launch an attack against the Amalekites on the following day.

Therefore, the Amalekites must have sent messengers to the Israelites with the conditions of surrender, which was customary in such military operations in the Near East at that time.

This is the first time that Joshua appears in the narrative, thus it is the first time in the Old Testament.

He was the son of Nun, who was an Ephraimite and his name means “Yahweh delivered.”

He, not Moses, leads the Israelites into the Promised Land.

He was Moses’ servant (Exodus 24:13) and was with Moses when the latter received the Law from God (Exodus 32:17).

He was also one of the twelve spies Moses sent to investigate Canaan (Num. 13:8) and he and Caleb returned with a positive report.

Of all the Exodus generation alive at that time, only the two of them were allowed to live to enter the land of Canaan (Num. 14:28–30, 38).

The Lord chose Joshua to be Moses’ successor long before Moses’ death (Numbers 27:15–23; Deuteronomy 31:14–15, 23; 34:9).

While Joshua led the Israelites into battle, Moses went to the top of the hill at Rephidim along with Aaron and Hur and stretched his staff over the battlefield, which resulted in Israel gaining the advantage.

However, when he got tired and let his hand down, the Israelites would falter.

Aaron and Hur gave Moses a stone to sit on and they supported each of his hands so that he would not get tired which would result in a Israelite victory.

Verse 13 tells the reader that Joshua and the Israelite army overwhelmed the Amalekites on the battlefield.

However, he was merely the human instrument that the Lord used to accomplish this victory.

Hur is mentioned also here for the first time in the narrative and is mentioned in 17:12 as well as 24:14 and 1 Chronicles 2:19-20.

The Hur mentioned in Exodus 31:2, 35:30 and 38:22 is another person more than likely.

In Exodus 17:14, the Lord commands Moses to memorialize this victory by recording the days’ events in a book.

In Exodus 17:15, we have the record of Moses building an altar and naming it “The Lord is My Banner” which indicates that the staff he had held high during the battle was the signal pole of Yahweh, a visible rallying point for the army of Israel in holy war.

The fact that Moses builds an altar recalls the patriarchs building altars to memorialize theophanies and covenant promises.

Noah started the practice (Genesis 8:20) and it continued with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-7) and his son and grandson (Genesis 26:25; 35:7).

These altars were to worship the Lord in the sense of expressing gratitude for what the Lord has done or promised to do in the future.

Therefore, Moses is carrying on a tradition of God’s people in expressing thanksgiving to God for delivering the Israelites.

Exodus 17:16 contains the Lord’s promise to wage war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.

This promise was fulfilled by King David who exterminated these people (1 Samuel 30).

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