Exodus 17:1-16 - Looking at Life From God's Perspective

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Thomas S. Myers

Looking At Life From God's Perspective

Exodus 17:1-16

            A fellow had an old junker of a car.  There was a very steep hill in his town that this old junker had a tough time climbing.  He always floored the engine to it's top speed 3 blocks before the top of the hill.  Well, just at the top of the hill, he saw 2 cars that would be crossing the hill at the same time he would.  So he decided, if he could adjust his speed, he could slip between the 2 cars.  But he made one miss- calculation.  The first car was towing the second car.  When he woke up in the hospital, he discovered a principle.  You can not separate 2 things which are inseparable and not get into trouble.  We often do that with the Word of God.  One person will quarrel over the sovereignty of God.  One person says, "God has predestined everything we do."  Another person says, "No, God has not predestined everything we do, we have free will."  What they do not know is that most truths have two sides, and we get into trouble when we try to separate the two truths.

            In Exodus chapter 17 there are 3 truths each having two sides to them.  Here is the first truth: 


                Exodus 17:8 tells us that the Amalekites attacked the children of Israel.  There are 2 principles that we must not separated. 


            Trials often come because we have come into the path of ungodly men. 

            For example, you can do everything right as you're driving down the road and still get into an accident.  You don't have to be doing anything wrong to get rear-ended.  You can also eat right and exercise right and still have a heart attack. 

Deuteronomy 25:17-18

17 Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. 18 When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God.

            The Amalekites went out of their way to attack the Israelites.  The children of Israel had not come into the territory of the Amalekites and there was no provocation by the children of Israel.  There are times in life when trials just come our way.  Amalek was the great grandson of Esau and I take it that the hatred of Esau against Jacob burned so strongly that the Amalekites went out from their own territory to fight the children of Israel.

            Let me give you some advice on how to survive unjust attacks.  When you are attacked, lay hold of God's promises. 

Psalm 37:1

1 Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; (NIV)

            Don't fuss, don't complain and don't spread gossip. 

You see, we may not choose what we will go through, but we do choose how we go through it. 

            The Hebrew verb is always used in reference to anger, emphasizing the “kindling” of anger, like the kindling of a fire.

            Meaning, “Fret not yourself.

            If you let circumstances get in your way, you will not see God.  

            And very wise old man of God was in a prayer meeting and when it was his turn to pray what seemed to be a very unusual prayer.  He prayed, "Lord, I hate baking powder, I hate raw eggs, I hate shorting, but I sure love them biskits.

            In the Old Testament of the Bible, Jeremiah 29: 11 says,

"For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope."

            Don't focus on the process. Baking powder is just as necessary for the success of a cake as is the sugar.  Alone it is unpalatable, but without it, the recipe would be incomplete. God works in our lives in much the same way.  He has a goal in mind, an end in sight; as the baker can see the magnificent wedding cake, God sees us complete and whole in


            Some of our experiences are quite painful, even bitter. We go through times of difficulty, which seem purposeless. If we focused on them, we would surely be discouraged and lose hope.

            Don't focus on the process, but rather trust that God will use all our experiences, both pleasant and painful, to mold us into what He desires.

            Also, when Amalek fought against the children of God, they also fought against God Himself.  When you and I are attacked, it is not just you they are attacking, but it is God they are attacking.  Do you remember when Saul persecuted the church of God?  When God confronted him, what did God say to Saul?

Acts 9:4

4  "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"


            When Saul persecuted the church, he was really persecuting God.  Here is the point, don't get even when someone slanders you or attacks you, let God get even. 

Rom 12:19

19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

            When Jesus was nailed to a cross, what were the very first words that He spoke from the cross?  Jesus said,

Luke 23:34

34 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."


            Leave the problem with God; the battle is the Lord's, and He will, in His own time and His own way, overthrow all His and your adversaries.

            First, notice that the trials may come because of the sin of others.  But, on the other had:


            This assault by the Amalekites may have been the result of Israel's sin.  Just before the battle with the Amalekites, the Israelites were grumbling.  The point is this:  your trial or difficulty may come to you as the result of evil men.  And yet, at the same time, it may be your sin which lies at the bottom of it. You may have brought the evil upon yourself because of  your sins.  In Exodus chapter 17, when the children of Israel grumbled against Moses, they were really grumbling against God and it was then that the Bible says:

Exodus 17:8

8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. (NIV)

            The children of Israel began to quarrel with God.  And as a result other people began to quarrel with the children of Israel. 

You see, if you are going to quarrel with God, people are going to quarrel with you. 

If we have been slow to forgive, we need not marvel if we do not soon get a sense of not being  forgiven by others. 

            We often hear people say, that  we should do unto others as we would want them to do unto us.  Let me also say, "Do unto God as you would that God should do unto you."  The ink with which we write a quarreling word, God will use in the writing down of our own sentence.  Israel quarreled with God, and now Amalek quarrels with Israel. 


            Furthermore, when they quarreled with God, they also quarreled with the man of  God, Moses.  Look at what Moses told the Lord,

Exodus 17:4

4  "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me." (NIV)

            Now if they would stone the man of God, is it any wonder that the men of the world were ready to kill them?  If you were to go against Moses, then Amalek would go against you.  Remember that God does chasten His people. 

Hebrews 12:6

because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son." (NIV)

            Though God forgives, He still disciplines.  He convicts us, so that he may not have to discipline us.  If you are a child of God, you can not sin without paying for it.  There are two sides of trials.  Trials may come because we have crossed the path of evil men, but trials may also come because we have sinned.


            Here again is another contrast.  Look at Exodus 14:16 and notice what God calls the staff.   God is speaking to Moses and says, 

Exodus 14:16

16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. (NIV)


God called the staff  "Moses' staff."  But when Moses talks about the staff, notice what he calls it.  Look at:

Exodus 17:9

9 Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands." (NIV)

            In both places it is the same staff.  God calls it the "staff of Moses."  Moses calls it the "staff of God."  Whose staff is it?


            Moses calls it the "staff of God."  If there is one thing that God enjoys, it is being praised by you.  Just search your Bible and you will find the command to praise and glorify God.  I found 291 occurrences in just a few minutes.  When Moses lifted the

staff of God over the Nile River, was it  Moses' strength that turned the water into blood?  It was not by any magic of Moses that the Red Sea separated.  No one knew better than Moses that the source of all miracles was the very hand of God.  The instrument must never be allowed to usurp the place of God.  For it must always be remember that it is God who uses it.  As the Scriptures say,

Isaiah 10:15

15  Does the ax raise itself above him who swings it, or the saw boast against him who uses it?  As if a rod were to wield him who lifts it up, or a club brandish him who is not wood! (NIV)

            We must never forget  that it is God's power that works with in us. 

Ephesians 3:20

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, (NIV)

            Know that it is God that works in you, and if anything is accomplished that is worthy of  praise, it is because God has been at work.   It is the staff of God, but it is also:


            God is a King who delights giving honor to His servants.  It gives God pleasure to praise His servants.  So God calls it the "staff of Moses."  God loves to say:

Matthew 25:21

21 "Well done, good and faithful servant" (


God is not afraid of spoiling His people by saying a good word about them.  It does people good to be told how much we appreciate them.  There are many Christians who would do better if someone would speak a kind word to them and let them know what they have done well.  God gives us an example of this when he says to Moses, "Take your staff."  


THIRD -- THE TWO SIDED WISDOM IN                                         KNOWING WHAT TO DO.  




                Look at Exodus 17:9 and see what Moses said unto Joshua:


Exodus 17:9

9 Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites." (NIV)


            Observe how Moses prepared to fight the Amalekites.  He said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out fight the Amalekites."  Moses did not lose sight that it was necessary to have warriors involved in actual combat.  If nations are going to be conquered for Christ, the church must put physical labor into the effort.  When you work for Christ, bring out the best of everything that you have.  Use your best knowledge, your best ability, your best resources and skills.  Moses did not pick up the first person that came across to lead the fighting.  He said personally to Joshua, "Choose some men."  When the battle began, it was hand-to-hand combat, it was a battle for life and death.  They

were going to fight with the edge of the sword.  Moses relied on the physical strength of soldiers to win the war.  But, wait a minute: 



            Look again at:

Exodus 17:9

9 Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands." (NIV)

            Moses said unto Joshua, "Choose out men to fight the Amalekites."  But I am going to stand on the hill with the staff of God in my hand and pray.  What is Moses saying?  He is saying to Joshua, "At the same time your fighting with the sword, I'm going to be praying with the staff of God in my hand."   We can not expect to see souls saved if we only witness and never pray.  We can not expect to have our children saved if we only speak to them about salvation.  We must also pray. 

            Two men were rowing a boat in a large lake.  Suddenly it started to rain and they were getting soaked.  One man was an unbeliever.  He said to his friend who was a Christian,  "Should we row to get out of the rain or should we pray that the rain should stop?   The Christian said, "Let's mix them.  Let's both pray and row."  Use all the strength you can, but at the same time pray. 

            Nehemiah, they began to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.  This aroused the hostility of the pagans around them, who threatened to undo their work.  the people of Israel took two essential steps:  they prayed to God, and they posted a guard day and night.  Even as they prayed for God's protection and help, they did what they could.  They knew that prayer is not a way to avoid responsibility, it is not a shortcut to success without effort.

            We make a great mistake if we think that this world is going to be conquered just with sure strength and effort.  We must also pray.  Learn this when you do battle.  Learn to balance your service to God with prayer and work.  They go together.  Go about the work as if it all depends upon you but also pray as if it all depends upon God.  Fight, but pray.  Fight with the edge of the sword, but prevail with God in prayer. 


            Unfortunately, in our work for God, we generally fall into one of the two blunders.  Either we get a lot of machinery, and think that we will accomplish everything, or else we spend all of our time praying.  That is like some people I know who take medicine for their illness, but never pray about the illness.  Or others who pray about their sickness, but never take the proper medicine.  Both are wrong.  Go before God with your illness, but also take the proper medicine. 

            Notice in verse 13, that Moses lifted up the staff of God. 

Exodus 17:11-13

11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up -- one on one side, one on the other -- so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. (NIV)

            What is this about?  As long as Moses holds up the staff of God, Joshua's army is defeating the Amalekies.  But whenever Moses lowers the staff of God, Joshua's army is being defeated.  Why was it necessary for Moses to hold up the staff of God?  It was held up so every warrior could behold that God was with them.  The staff in Moses' hand seemed to say, "God is fighting for you."  Joshua took a sword, that he would make red with the blood of the enemy, and at the same time Moses took the staff of God to the top of the hill that all may know that the battle depended upon the Lord.

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