How to Raise Your Hand During a Test

September 18, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Posted in Exodus | 8 Comments
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In Exodus Chapter 17 the children of Israel continued on in their journey from the wilderness of “Sin” on their way to Mount “Sin”ai. Perhaps they thought the passage through the Red Sea was the last challenge they would face, but they could not have been more wrong. They got thirsty and God helped. They got hungry and God helped. Despite their sinful “double D’s” (when God does something we find confusing or distressing, we’re supposed to “sing and shout,” not “dispute and doubt”), they found themselves without water for a second time. They were being tested, but they kept failing the tests.

God’s not like a corrupt college football “tutoring” system (where the star athletes mysteriously manage to keep an acceptable grade point average despite an obvious lack of intelligence, effort, or both), nor is He like the Webster Parish school system when I was growing up (where the starting tailback on my 7th grade football team was 18 years old). God does not give “passing grades” to people who don’t actually pass the tests. In God’s education/sanctification program, you have to keep taking the same tests and stay in the same grade (Wilderness Wandering 101) until you can pass the test of faith, obedience, and trust.

And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?

Exodus 17:3

When we read of the people’s reaction to their thirst, we are tempted to think, “HELLO??? This is not a new experience, people!” But, the fact is, we often behave exactly the same way.

And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.

Exodus 17:4

Again, we are tempted to sarcastically think, “Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Let’s kill our Savior’s prophet. That’ll help.” But, in reality, it makes about as much sense as saying, “I’m miserable, so I’ll get out of this marriage.” Or, “I’ll get drunk.” Or, “I’ll leave the church.” Or, “I’ll yell at my wife, that’ll help the situation.”

And the Lord said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.

Exodus 17:5

Moses’s trusty rod, the visible symbol of God’s power with him, had been there through thick and thin.

Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Exodus 17:6

This rock is a type of Christ, Who was smitten for the sins of His people, so that the river of living water could flow forth. Moses was only supposed to strike the rock once, because Jesus’s one sacrifice was sufficient for all.

And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the Lord among us, or not?

Exodus 17:7

“Massah and Meribah” meant “trial and complaining” or “testing and failing.”

Meanwhile, a group of people had been following the Israelites. These stalkers were the Amalekites, descendants of Esau, Jacob’s twin brother. They had been watching the rear of the Israelite group, and they were preparing a surprise attack.

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.

Exodus 17:8-9

This is the first mention of Joshua, one of God’s mighty warriors.

So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.

Exodus 17:10

Hur may have been Miriam’s husband (Moses’s brother-in-law).

And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

Exodus 17:11

Aaron and Hur propped up Moses’s arms, and God used the untrained and inexperienced Israelites to defeat the Amalekites.

And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi:

Exodus 17:14-15

Jehovahnissi meant “the Lord is my banner.” Banners were used in battle during Bible times for signals, such as when to charge or retreat, or when to get into formation. They were also used so that isolated fighters could see where the main body of the army was. Moses built this altar as a banner unto the Lord, and the reason we are given is fraught with significance.

For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

Exodus 17:16

The expression “hath sworn” in Hebrew has a connotation of a hand being lifted up, so it can mean that the Amalekites “lifted up their hand” against God, while also meaning that Moses “lifted up his hands” to the Lord during the battle. As Christians, we will be attacked in our Christian walk – most often by our own sins. When that happens we need to remember that “sin” is a “lifting up of our hands” against God, and to remember that we should be lifting them up toward Him in supplication, instead.

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