In our study of Exodus chapter seventeen, we look at doubt, its consequences, and how it is defeated in the life of God's people.
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The whole community of the people of Isra'el left the Seen Desert, traveling in stages, as ADONAI had ordered, and camped at Refidim; but there was no water for the people to drink.
Israel was being led by God to different places in the desert and they camped at a place called Refidim. In modern Hebrew, refidim is used to speak of upholstery or making something hard easy. In this place, there was once again no water for the people.
The people quarreled with Moshe, demanding, "Give us water to drink!" But Moshe replied, "Why pick a fight with me? Why are you testing ADONAI?" However, the people were thirsty for water there and grumbled against Moshe, "For what did you bring us up from Egypt? To kill us, our children and our livestock with thirst?"
In chapter fifteen, we saw how God provided water for His people when they had none but here we see that they did not remember His provision or seek God's purpose in their current situation. Instead of answering God's call to prayer, the people quarreled with Moshe but we see that Moshe recognized that they were looking to him instead of God to be their provider and he quickly pointed them back to God. In the Hebrew text, the people said to Moshe "what is this" and that is the same thing that Esav said concerning his birthright (see Genesis 25:32). Also in the Hebrew text, it has me and my instead of the us and our as translated here and this is very important to understand. This using me and my speaks of their attitude of selfishness and it is the same spirit that Esav had as he was not concerned about the things of God but only about himself.
Moshe cried out to ADONAI, "What am I to do with these people? They're ready to stone me!" ADONAI answered Moshe, "Go on ahead of the people, and bring with you the leaders of Isra'el. Take your staff in your hand, the one you used to strike the river; and go. I will stand in front of you there on the rock in Horev. You are to strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so the people can drink." Moshe did this in the sight of the leaders of Isra'el. The place was named Massah and M'rivah because of the quarreling of the people of Isra'el and because they tested ADONAI by asking, "Is ADONAI with us or not?"
Moshe literally screamed at God out of frustration as he knew that the people were ready to kill him and he asked God what to do. To me, it is reassuring that, instead of putting Moshe in his place, God simply provided the answer for the frustration that Moshe felt. In God's answer, we also see a picture of Yeshua and His death on the cross. God told Moshe to go ahead of the people with the elders and that He would be waiting for Moshe on the "rock in Horev" which is a reference to Mt. Sinai. Moshe struck the rock and water flowed from it and we are reminded that, in the desert, water is life. We see that Moshe walked to God and the rock refers to Yeshua with the striking speaking of Yeshua taking the punishment for our sins. In all of this, we also see that the people doubted the faithfulness of God as they asked whether He was even with them or not.
Then 'Amalek came and fought with Isra'el at Refidim. Moshe said to Y'hoshua, "Choose men for us, go out, and fight with 'Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with God's staff in my hand." Y'hoshua did as Moshe had told him and fought with 'Amalek. Then Moshe, Aharon and Hur went up to the top of the hill. When Moshe raised his hand, Isra'el prevailed; but when he let it down, 'Amalek prevailed. However, Moshe's hands grew heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aharon and Hur held up his hands, the one on the one side and the other on the other; so that his hands stayed steady until sunset. Thus Y'hoshua defeated 'Amalek, putting their people to the sword.
The result of the doubt of the people about God's faithfulness is that it invited the enemy to do battle with them and so Amalek and his armies came to meet Israel at Refidim. Moshe appointed Y'hoshua as the commander of the army but we see that they did not immediately go into battle but waited until tomorrow. This speaks of preparation and spiritually preparation is associated with prayer. Moshe, Aharon, and Hur went up to stand on the hill and, when Moshe raised his arms and the staff of God, the army of God was strengthened but when he let his arms fall they were weakened. This speaks of worship and, when Moshe was too tired to do so on his own, the others brought him the rock to sit on and they held up his arms. All of this speaks of the fact that our victory is in resting in Yeshua and, when we lack the strength for what is in front of us, The Holy spirit is there to gives us the strength that we need. At the end of the day, we see Y'hoshua in victory and the enemy defeated.
ADONAI said to Moshe, "Write this in a book to be remembered, and tell it to Y'hoshua: I will completely blot out any memory of 'Amalek from under heaven." Moshe built an altar, called it ADONAINissi, and said, "Because their hand was against the throne of Yah, ADONAI will fight 'Amalek generation after generation."
God told Moshe to include this account in the Torah and also to tell Y'hoshua what had went on upon that hill and this helps us to see the importance of these events. Moshe again worshipped God by building an altar which he named the Lord is my banner. Finally, we see that this battle between faith and doubt will continue from generation to generation until Yeshua returns.