"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Sunday, April 18, 2021

EXODUS – GOD’s MIRACULOUS DELIVERANCE of ISRAEL FROM EGYPT – Chapter SEVENTEEN

Contributing commentaries by pastors Sonny Islas, Albert Lopez and James Fire

EXODUS 17: “PROVISION from the ROCK” – by James Fire, Facebook video

INTRODUCTION: The expression, “You can’t get blood from a stone” means that you can’t expect the impossible. Wherever that expression came from, they obviously don’t know the GOD of the Bible!

We know of One Who declared Himself to be the ROCK (MATT 16:18) and He certainly shed all of His blood for sinful humanity in an act of loving propitiation, paying the price for all of our sins (something that would be considered impossible in the imaginations of mere men!)!
In this chapter we see “the rock” twice, and in two different capacities: one as a provision for water, and the other as a provision of foundational victory. In both cases, this rock appeared faithfully, exactly when needed, and never once disappointed the children of Israel.
It’s the same for us: the Rock provides us with living waters that fail not (ISAIAH 58:11):

JOHN 7:37
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.

JOHN 4:14
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
The Rock also provides our spiritual victory against all the power of the enemy:

MATTHEW 16:18
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it
.

So let’s get into this chapter and experience the grace and truth, the power and glory of the LORD our ROCK! May we learn valuable lessons of truth! 
EXODUS 17:1-2
And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the Lord, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the Lord?
.

It was only a couple of chapters ago when the people of Israel were in the wilderness of Shur and without drinkable water, and they murmured against Moses (EXOD 15:24).

Here they are, without any water at all, whereas before, there was water, but it was undrinkable (so now they’re facing a more severe trial, but rather than leaning on prior experience of the LORD’s provision, they bicker and complain), and this time, they aren’t merely murmuring, which is bad enough: murmuring is a sin (is it a coincidence that they just came from “the wilderness of Sin”??) and it’s what led to many of the Israelites being destroyed (1 COR 10:10). Their murmuring against Moses was really murmuring against GOD because it was GOD working through His vessel, Moses, and they were rebuked for this (EXOD 16:7-8).

Here in Chapter 17, they aren’t merely murmuring, but now they’re “chiding” with Moses. This word implies “a quarrelling, a strife, a contest of wills, a protest, to have a controversy, a rebuke”. This is what the people were doing with Moses, and indirectly they’re laying this controversy upon the LORD Himself. 

GOD would have been justified in calling it quits right there and then, because GOD is truth – He cannot lie, and so when He makes a promise, we can be assured of the truth of that promise. It’s an insult and injury to the tender heart of GOD when we doubt GOD, doubt His Word, His Truth, His promises! He Who is the Truth cannot lie and to not believe what He says to us in His Word, in a real sense, is calling Him a liar.

GOD says that all of His promises are absolutely affirmed and true (2 COR 1:20). As we know, heaven and earth will pass away but His Word, the Word of our LORD Jesus will never pass away; MATT 24:35 (We have no reason to doubt what He tells us; it’s rock solid truth, unshakeable and resolute, more than the ground under our feet and the skies above us!).
What desert where there is a lack of water, what situation where we are lacking serious need, that we can’t rely upon the LORD and His Word to address and answer those needs?

PHIL 4:19
But my GOD shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus
.

Notice the word “all” – in His time, not ours, He will provide, just as Abraham stated on Mount Moriah when he was about to offer up Isaac, and the LORD not only provided a goat to sacrifice, but also a revelation of the LAMB to come Who takes away the sin of the world!!” Jehovah-Jireh!

ROMANS 8:32
He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?
Our GOD is a generous GOD; He who spared not His own Son is ever willing to bring us other blessings besides! Had He only given us salvation through Christ that would have been far, far more than enough. And yet every good gift we receive, we receive from our Abba Father Who dotes on us tenderly (JAMES 1:17).Amen?

EXODUS 17:3-4
3 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? 4 And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me
.

I sometimes wonder – are these the same people that saw the hand of GOD, displaying His power in laying judgment on Egypt with those ten plagues against the so-called ‘gods’ of Egypt? Are these the same people that saw the parting of the Red Sea?
How can they have such short memories? Why didn’t they realize that He Who was faithful in times just prior will prove Himself faithful in any and all the trials they face and will face in the future?

Let’s turn to ROMANS 5:1-5 (we’ve read this many times before, but we need constant reminder of its truth):
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with GOD through our LORD Jesus Christ: by Whom also we have access by faith into his grace wherein we stand and rejoice in the hope of the glory of GOD. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation [develops] patience; and patience, experience; and experience hope, and hope doesn’t [disappoint], because the love of GOD is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit Who is given to us.

Moses is at a loss as to how to deal with these people, these whiners and complainers and doubters. So what does he do? Does he quarrel back at them? Does he assert his authority? – after all, GOD did appoint him as the LORD’s spokesman! 

No – this humble man of GOD goes to the LORD and implores Him to take action.
Saints, let’s remember this whenever we are caught up in a controversy, when we are at odds with someone, or they with us.
May we come before the LORD with our petitions and seek His face for the answer, and not resort to argument and quarreling that only creates strife, resentment, bitterness and enflames pride (2 COR 13:11; COL 1:2; ROM 14:19).

We see here that GOD answers Moses' petition and brings provision; all without any argument or strife on Moses’ part.

EXODUS 17:5-6
5 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. 6 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
.

Notice that GOD instructs Moses to collect the elders among the people, and not everyone generally. Just as the LORD often brought Peter, James and John with Him as special witnesses, we see here that these elders will witness close-up the LORD’s provision!

Moses brings his rod, the symbol of GOD’s authority and guidance with him, with which he made the river Nile turn to blood and thus undrinkable according to the Word of the LORD (EXOD 7:17) and here he’s told to smite the Rock to bring forth water that is refreshing and will quench the thirst of these desert travelers!

We recognize that the One Who gave authority to Moses to speak on the LORD’s behalf is Himself the One Who carries the rod – the rod of iron – with which He, the LORD Jesus Christ shall rule the nations, and smite those who refuse to worship Him, just as He smote the Egyptians who refused to worship Him, preferring their own false gods.

We also understand that the LORD Jesus Christ will give this rod of iron to the church, those saints who have overcome the world (REV 12:5; 2:27). Just as the rod is a symbol for authority, iron is a symbol for judgment and justice: strong, unyielding, unbendable, unchanging!

Moses is instructed to strike this rock in Horeb, this place that is Sinai where the Law was given. Horeb means “burnt” and it’s likely that it lived up to it’s name because the glory of GOD’s holy fire was seen there by Israel and caused them to greatly fear! For it was there that they heard the very voice of GOD!

In this same place, the rod of GOD struck the Rock, and as Paul tells us, this rock that followed Israel in the wilderness was Christ, that is, the representation of Christ, Who actually led the people of Israel:

1 CORINTHIANS 10:4
And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ
.

Of course we recognize that in striking the Rock with the rod of Moses, that this is a picture of GOD’s judgment coming down upon the Rock, the LORD Jesus Christ. Just as by Moses, the people of Israel were saved (once again!) from their perils; in this case, dying of thirst in the desert, likewise in this world of barren spiritual deserts among empty, parched souls, our eternal death was assured. 

If not for the judgment of GOD our Father coming down and hammering the soul of His only beloved Son, Christ Jesus our Righteousness we would have perished in this world and suffer the perfectly Holy Judgment of GOD ourselves!
Thank You LORD for Your grace and mercies! Thank You for Your Sacrifice so that we are now at peace with GOD, no longer enemies:

ROMANS 8:1-3
There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, GOD sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh
(that is, in the body that Christ took upon Himself “a body have you prepared for me; HEB 10:5). See also 2 COR 5:21.

So our sin was condemned in the body of the incarnate Christ, so that we are now no longer condemned ourselves! Instead we are blessed with the righteousness of Christ placed upon us!!

EXODUS 17:7
7 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?

Massah means a testing or a proving, after a judicial sort; like a judge reviewing a case to prove the innocence or guilt of a person. This was the place where GOD tested the faith of the Israelites; like the writing on the wall in Babylon, which the prophet Daniel interpreted for Belshazzar, king of Babylon (DAN 5), son of Nebuchadnezzar, these Hebrews in the desert proved ‘wanting’ that is, lacking that which GOD would have approved of, and in this case, believing and saving faith. Rather than exercising faith, they provoked GOD with their quarreling, and so the name of this place was also Meribah, meaning quarreling, provocation, strife.

HEBREWS 3:7-10,17
7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted me, proved me and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation and said, They do always err in their heart and they have not known my ways
.
17 But with whom was He grieved forty years? Was it not with that that had sinned whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom He swore that they should not enter into His rest but to them that believed not. So, we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

The Israelites had no cause to question whether or not the LORD was with them; they had seen for themselves not only GOD’s power, but even His presence (remember the pillar of fire by night and the pillar of cloud by day – even caring for His people by providing shade in the cloud from the hot desert sun and warmth and light in the fire from cold, dark desert nights.
This was a tragic and inexcusable lack of faith on their part. They were delivered by the superpower of the world – and here they are griping about a lack of water, doubting the One Who commands the waves of the seas!
And what about us? How we can fret and worry and doubt about earthly needs – when we have seen, with the eyes of faith, the supreme sacrificial love and spiritual offering of Christ on our behalf?

So we shift our attention from this failure to the next test that GOD took them through: a battle with the warrior culture of the Amalekites, who were the descendants of Esau’s grandson, Amalek. 

Think about this – Abraham’s and Sarah’s really bad mistake in not trusting GOD for the promised son, took matters into their own hands; and Esau was born as a result. Generations later, his descendants would become a huge thorn in Israel’s side, and a constant, long lasting threat to Israel.

In DEUTERONOMY 25:17-19 GOD instructed the nation to blot out the very remembrance of the Amalekites along with every man, woman, and child of this fierce nomadic tribe that all the other tribes of Canaan lived in dread and fear of.
The sin of Abraham and Sarah in not trusting GOD for the promised son, didn’t stop with them, or with their son Esau and his carnal doings – it grew larger and worse with these Amalekites that committed far more ruin and devastation than Esau ever could. That’s the way of sin – it’s a destructive fire that if not quenched, will grow to an uncontrollable, raging inferno (PROV 6:27).

Just as GOD commanded Israel to wipe out, not just the men, but the women and children too, likewise we are to destroy sin from its existence in our lives, no matter how small and seemingly innocent it may look. 
A lion cub will look cute, but feed it, watch it grow and it becomes a roaring devouring monster, like Satan – like sin itself! So kill the cub so it can’t grow up and kill you!

ROMANS 8:13
For if you live according to the flesh, you shall die: but if through the Spirit you mortify the deeds of the body
[the sinful nature] you shall live!

It was only after the Hebrews were refreshed from the water provided by GOD through the Rock, that they were ready for the next trial – which the men that Joshua chose from among the people -
 didn’t fail, by the way. If ever we hope for spiritual victory, we need to partake deeply of the living waters found in Christ alone!

EXODUS 17:8-10
8 Then came Amalek and fought with Israel in Rephidim. 9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. 10 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
.

These nomads were interested in protecting this territory, but what they didn’t realize was that Israel was just passing through – they had no interest in Rephidim at all, but these aggressive warriors didn’t wait to ask questions, and the LORD GOD was prepared to judge these war-like people, the descendants of Esau anyway.

Moses instructs Joshua what to do and what he will do: while Joshua with his chosen men goes out to fight the battle, Moses will ascend up to the top of a hill with the rod of the LORD GOD in his hand. 

This shows that no one fights the battle alone; in the war that GOD has enlisted us in, against the kingdom of darkness, we all work together in different ministries and in different functions.
Some are called to the front lines, to deal with the enemy face to face in combat. There are those in Pro-life ministries that confront people who demand the right to murder their child so that they don’t have to face any consequences for their fornication. 

There are those who address lost souls with the Gospel and have to deal with the ridicule, the mocking, the arguments from atheists, Humanists even law enforcement and many others. Others do battle in the courts, opposing those who would want to rob us of our Constitutional freedoms. But behind all of these various battlefields, there are the ones who secretly wage war unseen, unnoticed – but nonetheless are vital for spiritual victory.

I’m talking about those prayer warriors, intercessors, who while others are out engaged in the battle, they attend the throne of GOD and seek His sovereign and holy will and intervention in the struggle against evil and wickedness.

Notice where Moses, Aaron and Hur are: on the top of a hill – a place of ascension, where the view of the battle below is seen from the heights above.
Prayer gives us this perspective. When we pray and cry out to GOD we see things from His perspective, From the heights of a bended knee, the challenges we face won’t seem so intimidating, because we have a great and Almighty GOD Who is for us!

Once again, the rod of the LORD GOD is employed – GOD’s authority over all. Understanding that the LORD grants His church this authority – that is, the very name of the LORD Jesus Christ – will ensure that any trial we face, any battle we engage in, will result in victory.
That victory isn’t gained by invoking the name of Christ only, but also in living in the nature, the character, the holiness of Christ, by the power of the Spirit of GOD!

EXODUS 17:11-12
11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun
.

The authority of GOD was ever present because the rod that Moses held up never left the scene; so why did Amalek prevail at turning points in the battle? Because Moses became fatigued and couldn’t keep the rod up in his tiring arms.
So what did they do?

They placed a large stone, large enough for Moses to sit down on, under him. Aaron the High priest and Hur of the tribe of Judah (quite possibly the husband of Miriam the sister of Moses and Aaron) gave him aid by supporting his tiring arms, so they remained upward at all times until the battle was won!

EXODUS 17:13
13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword
.

Moses the Lawgiver enabled Joshua to win the victory by his obedience to GOD; likewise the LORD Jesus of the same tribe as Hur, the tribe of Judah, proved Himself holy and sinless according to the Law, and because of this, He was the spotless LAMB of GOD Who took away the sin of the world.

GALATIANS 4:4-5
But when the fullness of the time was come, GOD sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption of sons
.

Just as the Hebrew children were not fighting this battle alone, but with Joshua at their side, we also are working in the Kingdom of GOD, fulfilling our ministries, obeying the LORD in every calling He has for us but with the LORD Jesus working with us (MARK 16:20).
Aaron the High priest also fulfilled his priestly duties by interceding for Moses, assisting, along with Hur, this man of GOD to remain strong for the purpose of winning this battle.

Moses was under the authority of GOD, represented by the rod he held overhead; He was secure in the salvation of GOD, as well as walking in obedience to GOD by being firmly placed upon the Rock (MATT 7:24). He was surrounded by the saints who were engaged in the work alongside him. Saints, these are the requirements for victory in the church today. 

The church is not under the authority of secular government, but under the authority of GOD and His Word of Truth. GOD Himself directs us in certain matters to be subject to the government under specific circumstances (ROM 13:1; TITUS 3:1), but not where such government denies the Word of GOD (ACTS 4:18-20).

The church does not find salvation in government, or from secular sources, from science or philosophy, or self but solely in the Rock, the LORD Jesus Christ. There is no such thing as “another Gospel” and any who believe “another Gospel” other than the one recorded for us in the pages of Scripture is damned – accursed it says in GAL 1:8-9).

EXODUS 17:14
14 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
.

It’s important that we remember these experiences with the LORD and His people; the verse quoted earlier stated that experience brings hope: because as we remember what the LORD did for us in the past, it gives us hope of His continued faithfulness in the future.
I recall when I was praying about moving to Arizona from New York State, and I kept a journal of all the verses the LORD gave me, along with how He moved in various circumstances – because I knew there would be times when I wondered if I’d made a mistake and doubted whether or not I really heard from the LORD. So by reviewing those journal notes, I would be reminded of what the LORD said, and what He did.

This was not only an encouragement to me, but also to the saints that I shared this with; likewise Joshua would be encouraged by this memorial as a shared experience in which they both witnessed the power of GOD on behalf of His people Israel.

Just as the LORD put an end (eventually) to these Amalekites, these long contested enemies of Israel, the LORD grants us victories over our enemies – those various sins and strongholds that never seem to go away! And we are encouraged to remember how the LORD brought us victory over these things. 

Joshua is going to need this memorial when Moses’ life is ended and he becomes the leader of Israel, faced with innumerable enemies in the land of Canaan.

EXODUS 17:15-16
15 And Moses built an altar and called the name of it Jehovahnissi: 16 For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation
.

The last time we saw an altar erected by a saint in the Old Testament was by Jacob in Elbethel (meaning "the GOD of the House of GOD"). It was at that time that the LORD reminded him that his name “shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name and a nation and a company of nations shall come from you.” (GEN 35:7,10-11). 

Now Moses has built an altar and named it Jehovah-nissi which means “Yahweh is my banner” or even “The LORD is my refuge”.
Banners are those flags representing a nation in battle: during the Civil War we had the Northern and Southern armies, with their flags respectively – the stars and stripes for the north, the red and blue flag for the south.
Banners are overhead, and we are under them. In this same way, “Jehovah-nissi” declares that we are under the authority of, under the care of, under the protection and power of Yahweh.

Remember what the centurion said to the LORD Jesus? The Centurion’s servant was sick and in need of healing. This soldier out of compassion sought the LORD for healing, but when the LORD Jesus offered to come to his house and heal his servant, what did the Centurion say?

MATTHEW 8:8-10
The Centurion answered and said, Lord I am not worthy that you should come under my roof: but speak the word only and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go and he goes, and to another come, and he comes; and to my servant, Do this, and he does it.
10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found such great faith, no not in Israel
,…

It was because this Centurion was under the authority of the Roman Government, that he had the power to order his subordinates and servants as he did.
Because the LORD Jesus was under the authority of the Father, He was empowered by the Spirit to do all that He did.

Because Joshua and the armies of Israel were under the rod of Moses – the authority of GOD, they won victory over the Amalekites.
Because we are under the authority of Christ, we have the power to live an overcoming life of victory.

We rally around the LORD GOD our Refuge, our Protector and Provider, our Deliverer, our Victor the way an army rallies around their flag, their banner. May we stay under the authority of GOD, by following the LORD Jesus, His Word by the power of the Spirit. In Jesus Name, amen!

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