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Wednesday, February 26, 2014



After the Israelites left Egypt, crossed the Red/Reed Sea and left behind their previous life of Egyptian slavery (the picture above is a picture of the Israelites in slavery). In light of all the miracles God performed for them, one might assume their gratitude for God would never end. Notice that these Israelites were former slaves who had been abused, beaten and oppressed throughout their entire lives. This led them to have a flawed or imperfect body and spirit. When they suddenly found themselves free from Egyptian slavery in the desert without homes and enough food supply or water, they were terrified! They also knew little of the God of Moses. They were only concerned about their present and basic needs: food, water and shelter. Furthermore, they were soon facing the attack of the Amalekites. They felt helpless and fully dependent upon God as their provider and protector. But, they were not yet used to trusting God to take care of them.

At Marah, God provided water for them twice. He made bitter water drinkable for them. In the desert He made water flow from a rock. Let's not forget the manna, the food from heaven. In all three circumstances, God proved over and over His love even when they grumbled and acted like a faithless people. God's faithfulness to them was not based upon their good behavior. Notice that the Egyptian gods expected their people to be enslaved by them and to feed them as well. But the One and only True God acted like a father to His children, rescuing them from slavery, feeding them with manna from heaven and providing them with enough water in the dessert.

In Exodus 15:22-27; 16 and 17:7, we can read of their grumbling and complaining. The Israelites began to complain and grumble soon after God had provided them with water. They began to cry out against Moses and Aaron as soon as their food supply was finished, wishing they were back in Egypt saying, "who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna." Numbers 11:5.

The Lord heard their grumbling and complaining, but cared and loved them enough to overlook their lack of faith. He provided both meat and bread for them in the form of quail and bread, "manna," from heaven. "And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel; speak to them, saying, at twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God." Exodus 16:11-12 NASB.

The "manna" came every day, except on the Sabbath, but the quail came only once. God provided for them throughout their forty years in the dessert. "The house of Israel named it manna, and it was like coriander seed, white, and its taste was like wafers with honey." Exodus 16:30-31 NASB. It fell with the dew overnight, and was gathered in the morning.

The following are the instructions for the manna:
  • They were to gather enough manna in the morning for the entire day.
  • They were to gather enough only for the people living in their tent.
  • They were not to gather extra and keep it overnight; when they tried to do this, it became spoiled and filled with maggots.
  • They were to gather double portions on the sixth day so that they could rest on the Sabbath day. They could keep it only on that the night without being spoiled.

Notice the following:
  • This manna from heaven was a daily reminder of God's love and provision for them, his people. God was teaching them to rely on Him. Likewise, they were dependent on Him alone, a loving God. This was such a distinct contrast with their former lives as slaves, in which they were dependent upon the Egyptians who were anything but merciful and loving.
  • They had come out of a world of oppression in which rest and leisure was not allowed. God Himself rested on the seventh day after He had created the heavens and the earth. God was in His kindness establishing the Sabbath and giving them, these former slaves, a taste of what is real freedom. The freedom to rest!

In Joshua 5:11-12 we read, "On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year." The Israelites celebrated the Passover just before they entered the Promised Land of Canaan. They ate unleavened bread and roasted grain the next day.   Manna stopped coming from heaven!

THE AMALEKITES (Exodus 17:8-6)
The Israelites were forced to fight against the Amalekites at Rephidim. These Amalekites might have been descendants of Esau. Esau's son Eliphaz had a concubine who bore him a son named Amalek in Genesis 36:12. This means they were related to the Israelites. Now, the Amalekites attacked from the rear, killing off the weak and helpless, "how he met you along the way and attacked among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear God."  Moses sent Joshua to fight against the Amalekites while he, Moses, stood on top of a hill holding God's staff high in his hand, where it was visible for the Israelites to see. As long as Moses kept his staff high, the Israelites would prevail, but when Moses let his hand down, the Amalekites would prevail. When Moses' hands became tired, the Israelites took a stone and placed it under him to sit on. Aaron and Hur held his hands one on one side and one on the other in order to keep his hands STEADY. They held Moses' hands all throughout the day until the sunset. In doing this Joshua and Israelites were able to defeat the Amalekites with the sword, "Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” Moses built an altar and named it The Lord is My Banner; and he said, “The Lord has sworn; the Lord will have war against Amalek from generation to generation." Exodus 17:8-16 NASB.

It is clear to me that God was trying to show the Israelites that they needed God's help since they were powerless. I think that when Moses raised his hands this shows us that Moses was calling upon God for help. We are powerless without God's help!

One interesting thing that caught my attention was the "raising of the rod and hand." Notice that in both victories, one over the Egyptians at the Red/Reed Sea and the other over the Amalekites, Moses had to raise his rod along with his hands as a real sign to them of God's mighty power over their enemies, Your right hand, O Lord, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy."   Exodus 15:16 NASB.

After the victory over the Amalekites, Moses built an altar which he called "The Lord is My Banner; and he said, “The Lord has sworn; the Lord will have war against Amalek from generation to generation."  Exodus 17:15-16 NASB.

God had sworn that since the Amalekites had attacked the Israelites, they were going to eventually be wiped off the face of the earth. Ironically, God used the Amalekites to punish Israel's rebellion before He punished the Amalekites. Isn't that a remarkable thing! God's ways are unique!

The Amalekites in the Bible:
  • Numbers 14:43-45: Here the Amalekites and Canaanites attacked Israel. They won because the Israelites were sinning against the LORD.
  • Judges 3:13: The Amalekites and the Ammonites joined with the Moabites to attack Israel. Again they won because Israel had sinned against their LORD.
  • Judges 6:3: The Amalekites and Midianites attacked Israel, ruining their crops. Again they won because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD.
  • I Samuel 15:1-9: Saul was instructed to destroy the Amalekites completely because of the many attacks against the Israelites. But unfortunately Saul sinned against the LORD losing favor with God.
  • I Samuel 27:8-9: David fought the Amalekites. He began to reduce the population of the Amalekites.
  • I Samuel 30: The Amalekites raided David’s camp kidnapping their wives and sons. David pursued the Amalekites killing all but 400 young men.
  • I Chronicles 4:43: During the time of Hezekiah, the remnant of Amalekites were completely destroyed from the face of the earth.

In our next discussion we will consider the Laws that Israel received from God at Mount Sinai.


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