Obedience

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Israel Defeats the Amalekites

8 While the people of Israel were still at Rephidim, the warriors of Amalek attacked them. 9 Moses commanded Joshua, “Choose some men to go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.”

10 So Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. 11 As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. 12 Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. 13 As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.

14 After the victory, the LORD instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-nissi (which means “the LORD is my banner”). 16 He said, “They have raised their fist against the LORD’s throne, so now the LORD will be at war with Amalek generation after generation

Deuteronomy 25:18–19 NLT
They attacked you when you were exhausted and weary, and they struck down those who were straggling behind. They had no fear of God. Therefore, when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your enemies in the land he is giving you as a special possession, you must destroy the Amalekites and erase their memory from under heaven. Never forget this!
1 Samuel 15:1–9 NLT
One day Samuel said to Saul, “It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord! This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.” So Saul mobilized his army at Telaim. There were 200,000 soldiers from Israel and 10,000 men from Judah. Then Saul and his army went to a town of the Amalekites and lay in wait in the valley. Saul sent this warning to the Kenites: “Move away from where the Amalekites live, or you will die with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up from Egypt.” So the Kenites packed up and left. Then Saul slaughtered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt. He captured Agag, the Amalekite king, but completely destroyed everyone else. Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality.
1 Samuel 15:24–31 NLT
Then Saul admitted to Samuel, “Yes, I have sinned. I have disobeyed your instructions and the Lord’s command, for I was afraid of the people and did what they demanded. But now, please forgive my sin and come back with me so that I may worship the Lord.” But Samuel replied, “I will not go back with you! Since you have rejected the Lord’s command, he has rejected you as king of Israel.” As Samuel turned to go, Saul tried to hold him back and tore the hem of his robe. And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to someone else—one who is better than you. And he who is the Glory of Israel will not lie, nor will he change his mind, for he is not human that he should change his mind!” Then Saul pleaded again, “I know I have sinned. But please, at least honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel by coming back with me so that I may worship the Lord your God.” So Samuel finally agreed and went back with him, and Saul worshiped the Lord.
1 Samuel 1. A Clear, Radical Command: Destroy Amalek (1–3)

b. How he laid wait for him on the way when he came up from Egypt: This explains why the Amalekites should be judged so completely. Centuries before this the Amalekites were the first people to attack Israel after their escape from Egypt (Exodus 17).

i. Hundreds of years before, the LORD said He would bring this kind of judgment against Amalek: Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-Is-My-Banner; for he said, “Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” (Exodus 17:14–16) Deuteronomy 25:17–19 repeats this idea.

ii. The Amalekites committed a terrible sin against Israel. When the nation was weak and vulnerable the Amalekites attacked the weakest and most vulnerable of the nation (Deuteronomy 25:18). They did this for no reasons except violence and greed. God hates it when the strong take cruel advantage over the weak, especially when the weak are His people.

1 Samuel 1. A Clear, Radical Command: Destroy Amalek (1–3)

iii. Though this happened more than 400 years before, God still held it against the Amalekites because time does not erase sin before God. Among men time should erase sin and the years should make us more forgiving to one another. But before God, time cannot atone for sin. Only the blood of Jesus Christ can erase sin, not time. In fact, it was time that the Amalekites were mercifully given opportunity to repent and they did not repent. The hundreds of years of hardened unrepentant hearts made them more guilty, not less guilty.

1 Samuel 1. A Clear, Radical Command: Destroy Amalek (1–3)

c. Now go and attack Amalek: God could have judged Amalek directly as He did against the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. But God had a special purpose in this for His special nation, Israel. He wanted it to be a test of obedience for Saul and all of Israel. Plus, since Amalek’s sin against Israel was a military attack, God wanted to make the judgment fit the sin.

i. Would God call His people today to fight such a war of judgment? God has a completely different call for Christians under the New Covenant than He did for Israel under the Old Covenant (John 18:36).

ii. Though God no longer calls His people to take up arms as instruments of His judgment, it does not mean that God has stopped judging the nations. “But we cannot suppose, for a single moment, that the judgment of the nations is to be altogether relegated [appointed] to that final day. Throughout the history of the world the nations have been standing before Christ’s bar. Nineveh stood there, Babylon stood there, Greece and Rome stood there, Spain and France stood there, and Great Britain is standing there to-day. One after another has had the solemn word—depart, and they have passed into a destruction which has been absolute and terrible.” (Meyer

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