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Water and War in the Wilderness

Exodus 17



The leader is responsible for the followers to some degree.  True, each one has personal responsibility, but ultimately someone must be held responsible and accountable.  Also, he is responsible for their care and meeting their needs.


Question:  Who is the leader in Exodus 17?  Who has led Israel into the wilderness?  Is it Moses?  Or is it God?  The people keep blaming Moses for anything that goes wrong.  But Moses is just following God like they are.  He’s a human instrument, and the focal figure in their eyes, but he’s not in charge calling the shots.  God is in charge and remember, the One in charge is responsible to meet the needs of the followers.


Moses strikes the Rock, a picture of Jesus, because he is told to.  However, 40 years later at the end of their wilderness experience they again need water and they complain to him and it seems to go to his head...maybe their griping got to him...because he takes the reins from God and assumes leadership of the people for a moment, aside from God:

Numbers 20:10-11
10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? 11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.

God said, because ye have done this, you won’t enter into the Promised Land of victory.  God takes His types and symbols seriously, and Moses just ruined the beautiful type of the once smitten Savior and Rock, Jesus.  This time he was only supposed to speak to the rock.  You see, Jesus has already been smitten and died for us, and now, anyone can simply call on the name of the Lord and be saved!


But in Exodus 17 they are just starting out in the wilderness, and Moses is following God as he leads the people.  He’s just like them in nature, but in his hand is the rod of God, and as he lifts it high among the people they prevail and flourish.  He is their pastor, lifting up the words of God and leading them where he himself is being led.  So they must lift up his hands...he needs their help!


But they are not behind him; rather, they are considering executing him!

v. 4          Most preachers would say at this point:  “Folks, I feel called to pursue another ministry at this time!”  But Moses brought his burden to the Lord...he didn’t quit!


Christian, don’t quit on God when something goes wrong.  The measure of your character is what it takes to get you to quit.  The devil has a plan to get you out of church and away from God.  Will you let him have his way?


God tells Moses to do 2 things:

1.     Take up your Rod.

v. 5  This is the same rod [staff] that was given to him when he returned to Egypt to deliver God’s people.  Now it’s his badge and seal.  It represents authority and the power of Almighty God.  It symbolizes God’s Word which we are to lift high and look unto.  I hold in my hand today the Rod of God!  It represents authority and the power of Almighty God.  It’s sharper than any two edged sword.  The rod which divided the waters at the Red Sea is capable of dividing between soul and spirit...it points at each of us and gets to the heart of the matter. 


And the reason I can come today to you and preach clearly, boldly, and without apology is because what I hold in my hand is the infallible, inerrant Word of the only one true Jehovah God!  Without this I’m just giving a talk, a lecture.  Without this we’re all just taking a walk.  But with this rod in my hand I can be a leader of people as I am a follower of God, and simply lift high His Words for all of us to look to!


And YOU have the rod of God as well.  I think you should carry it with you to church and anywhere else you can.  Hold it high if you have it today.  Now only those with red [read] Bibles lift them up.  [What?  The rest of you don’t read yours?!]


The first thing God tells Moses to do is to take up the rod...


2.     Go to the Rock!

Isn’t a rock the last place you’d go to for water?  I don’t even think you can get ‘hard water’ from a rock.  You can’t get blood from turnips or OJ from a doorknob, and certainly not water from a rock.

v. 6  This isn’t any rock?

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.

Here’s a picture [slide] of what might well be the very rock Moses smote.  A lot of facts line up with this theory, but it doesn’t matter if it’s the one...but it’s very interesting to see this rock in the described location with this particular shape, and to see water worn rocks beneath it as well!


On Wed. we talked about the manna from heaven, a picture of His incarnation, coming down to earth for us.

Then we have this smitten rock, a picture of His crucifixion and death on the cross.

Then we have the water gushing out of the rock, a picture of the Holy Spirit given to all those who trust Him for salvation.


The rock is a beautiful picture of Jesus:

Psalms 78:35
And they remembered that God was their rock, and the high God their redeemer.
1 Peter 2:6
Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone,
Deuteronomy 32:4
He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
1 Samuel 2:2
There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
2 Samuel 22:2
And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
2 Samuel 22:32
For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?

Psalms calls Him the rock of salvation and the rock of refuge.

Isaiah calls Him the rock of strength and the great rock.

Jesus is a rock in a weary land.  “Rock of Ages, cleft for me!”


Thank God today that we can have our feet picked up out of the miry clay and we can have our feet set surely on the solid rock, the only foundation on which you can build a successful life, family, and church!


Ill.—she was an outcast woman, to be seen with her was socially unacceptable.  Her reputation was so bad the other ladies in town wouldn’t have anything to do with her.  So it was when no one else was around that she went to the well to get some water.  Her heart was as empty and as thirsty as those water pots she came to fill.  But on this day a man would be leaning on the rocks that surrounded that well, waiting for her, to ask her for a drink of water.  He was a Jew, and she was a Samaritan and a woman...this didn’t jive!  But He told her, Lady, if you knew who I was you’d be asking me for a drink of water, and with just a sip you’d never thirst again.  It would spring up a well in your heart unto everlasting life.  She took that drink and bubbling over ran into town proclaiming Him to be the Christ.  Just a few days later He died on the cross, smitten like the rock, and still to this day flows everlasting water from the Rock!


The fountain is brim full, the stream’s banks are running over, the levees are breaking, there is more living water flowing than the world could possibly contain, and yet in spite of all of this the souls of mankind are shriveling, dying for a drink that is all around them...they are literally swimming in it.  It’s written across the sky, the rocks cry out, and our hearts proclaim its truth with every beat.  There is a God, He is the Rock, and He has been smitten, and we must only believe and drink!


It was water in the wilderness, and next is war!


v. 8  Up until now they hadn’t needed to fight, God had done it for them.  Now He wants to graduate them to the next level and fight battles THRU them. 


God is called the Lord of hosts, or armies.  We are soldiers in the Christian militia.  We are not called to a playground but to a battlefield.  It’s not a picnic, it’s a war.  We have 3 great enemies which are the world, our own flesh, and the devil.  And Amalek in our text is a picture of the flesh.  He’s a descendant of Esau in Genesis, the carnal man.  Even though Israel was delivered from the ‘world’ when they had victory over Egypt at the Red Sea, they will still have to battle the flesh.


v. 13        ‘discomfited’, not ‘defeated’

v. 16        ‘from generation to generation’.


If you’ve been born again say Amen.  If so, you have 2 natures.  A new spirit and the old flesh, the carnal nature.  And the 2 war against one another.

Galatians 5:17
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Deut. 25 explains further that Amalek attacked from the rear, a sneak attack, focused on their weakest people, when they were tired, likely late at night.  Isn’t that just how our flesh is tempted?  In our weakest moments, sneaking up from behind, under cover of darkness!  What’s your weak area?  It just came to your mind.  Guard against it!


“Two natures beat within my breast, one is cursed, one is blessed,

One I love and one I hate, and the one I feed will dominate!”


Feed the spirit and starve the flesh, whichever grows big and strong will win the battles!


Look at how Israel won the victory over Amalek, or, the flesh:

With an intercessor on the hill and a commander in the valley.

Moses was the intercessor on the hill, a picture of Jesus, our High Priest, praying for us.

Joshua was down in the valley with his sword actually fighting the battle and leading the troops.


There were a couple of other people important to this story.

v. 12        [Aaron and Hur]

Will you hold me up in prayer?  Will you help me lift high the rod of the Word?

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