Testing and triumph
Scripture: Exodus 17:1–16
Freed to be God’s people: a study of Exodus
Testing and triumph–outline
Though God’s people test him at times, yet he graciously gives them triumph over their enemies
1) When God’s people grumble and quarrel about what they lack, they test the Lord, 17:1-7.
Why does Moses equate their quarreling with him over lack of water with testing the Lord? What do Israel’s accusations against Moses (“you brought us up out of Egypt to kill us…”) reveal about their hearts? How have you done this? In verses 5-6, why does God tell Moses to take some elders with him, to take his staff with which he struck the Nile, and say that he (God) will stand before him, and that he shall strike the rock so water will come out? According to Paul, what does the rock ultimately symbolize (1 Corinthians 10:4)? Why does Paul make this connection? What does Paul say we are to learn from Israel’s testing of God in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:6)? What purpose did Moses have for naming the place “testing” and “quarreling” besides the fact that they did these things there? How did Israel test the Lord? In what ways do we test the Lord?
2) God gives his people victory over their enemy as their leaders support one another, 17:8-13.
God defeated Egypt in the Red Sea without Israel fighting. With the Amalekites, Israel fights. But clearly their triumph is from God. This is the first time we meet Joshua. Moses assigns him to go fight Amalek, who has attacked Israel. (He will be leading Israel in many future battles). Several times in Egypt, God said he would send a plague “tomorrow.” So when Moses says in v.9 that he will stand on the hill tomorrow, this is an indicator God will defeat this enemy for Israel. We’re not told why when Moses holds up his hand, Israel is winning, and when he drops his hand, Amalek is winning. But since Moses says he will have the staff of God in his hand, why is this the way God gives Israel the advantage? Because Aaron and Hur hold up Moses’ hands, Joshua/Israel overwhelms Amalek. So Aaron and Hur helping Moses, in turn helps Joshua. What can we apply from this scenario to spiritual battles we face (Eph.6:18)?
3) God’s word confirms his ongoing purpose to deliver his people from their enemies, 17:14-16.
God has it out for the Amalekites. Deut. 25:17-19. They did not fear him, even though they surely knew what God had done to Egypt. King Saul defeats them but doesn’t do all that God commanded (1 Samuel 15:1-23). David again defeats them (2 Samuel 1:1; 8:12).
True to his word to Abraham, Yahweh put a curse on the nation that had cursed his people. God says his purpose to blot out even the memory of the Amalekites is to be written in a book and read to Joshua. As the future leader for Israel, why is Joshua to take this to heart?
Why does Moses build an altar at this site of triumph called “the Lord is my banner” (a sign or signal of a leader for his followers)? What purpose is this story of Amalek to serve for communicating God’s relationship with Israel? How does God enable us in Christ to triumph over our enemies (Colossians 2:14-15; Rev.12:10-11)?