Victory over Amalek
At the end of chapter 17 in Exodus is a short story of Israel’s engagement in battle against Amalek and his forces. As strange as it sounds, somehow Moses discovered that when he raised his rod, the Israelites began to win in the battle, and when he lowered it they began to loose. I wonder if Moses caught on to God using him and his rod, probably everywhere he went he took that rod, you never know when God would ask him to use it. God turned it in to snakes and back in to a rod before Pharaoh, He used it to part the Red Sea, He used it to bring water out of a rock, and now to be victorious over the enemy. Perhaps our modern equivalent to Moses’s rod is the memorized and spoken Word of God. We lean on it and God uses us as we use it (the scriptures) in obedience to Him.
However Moses’s victorious miracle only lasted as long as his strength did, luckily he had two friends with him, Aaron his brother and Hur. If you are a Christian who intends to grow you have got to surround yourself with like minded people, you can’t afford to isolate yourself or withdraw yourself from Christian relationships. You need Christian friends to help you when you get tired of “raising your rod” as you serve God. We all grow weary and need encouragement and challenge from one anther. This is a large part what should happen at Church. God has designed us to need each other to meet our emotional and physical needs.
After the battle with Amalek and some advise from Moses’s father in law we find Moses and the Israelites setting up camp in the wilderness of Sinai which contains the famous Mount Sinai. Here God reveals His simple yet glorious plan for the people of Israel. God wanted Israel to be “my treasured possession among all the nations… a kingdom of priests and a holy (set apart) nation” (Exo 19:5-6). Sounds pretty good, in fact the idea is similar to what God wants the Church to be now – ambassadors, God’s bride, salt and light to the lost and hurting world. But, God puts a condition on this and it is that Israel “obey my voice and keep my covenants”. The Lord tells Moses to have the people consecrate themselves for two days for on the third day He will come down on Mt. Sinai in the sight of all the people. Also God instructs them to set limits around the mountain that they may not touch the mountain. This reminds me of how Christ resurrected from the dead on the third day and appeared for many to see (500+ people) and when He came back He told Mary not to touch Him (John 20:17).
In the next chapter (Exo 20) God gives Moses the 10 commandments for the first time. When God spoke, the people were afraid; they trembled in fear. Perhaps because they knew they had not been good little children of God but had complained, sinned, and forgotten God. They were so afraid that they didn’t even want God to speak to them! Instead they nominated Moses to be their spokesman and for God to only speak to him! Moses reassured them that they would not die as they thought and that God simply wanted to test them to see if they revered the Lord. Verse 21 is significant because it gives a picture of Moses drawing near to God (Heb 4:16) as well as the guilty conscience of the Israelites drawing away from God. We like the Israelites at Mt. Sinai are guilty of many sins which disable us from drawing near to God. However, unlike the Israelites at that time we have Christ who takes away our sins, who forgives us, thus removing the limitation of guilt and sin. With Christ we, like Moses, can approach the fullness of God without restraint. We can draw near instead of tremble in fear because of our own sin. Through the next 10 chapters God delivers to Moses the Law which is the heart of Jewish culture and religion.