Victory At Rephidim

“Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. 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. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed [lifted] 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. And Joshua discomfited [defeated] Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” (Exodus 17:8-13)

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith …” (Hebrews 12:2)

In the Bible, we are commanded to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Without Jesus actually being present with us in human form, we do this through various means, including reading and meditating on the Scriptures, prayer, singing songs of praise, and fellowship.

Certain “objects”, too, can help us to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, if we do not become idolatrous about it. For example, going for a walk and observing the flowers and trees can serve to remind us of our great Creator. There is, however, nothing “magical” about flowers and trees. They do not possess a special “power” in and of themselves. They do, however, (if we let them) point us to God — the Source of all good things (James 1:17).

Now interestingly, the rod which both Moses and Aaron carried around was likely a simple piece of wood! It was not a “magical” instrument, in and of itself. It had no special powers! It was not, for example, something that the enemy could “steal” and thereby possess special powers to be able to defeat Israel. To look at it that way would be completely erroneous. Rather, the rod that Moses carried was a normal piece of wood — surely a stick that Moses picked up along the way. It was, however, “empowered” by a very special God — the only true God, to be sure.

Now to do this “empowering”, God had to find a willing person to carry the rod that would be used to defeat the Egyptians … and anyone else who came along. To be sure, the rod which God used to bring about miraculous victories became a symbol of God’s authority and power.

When Israel was fighting against Amalek (passage at top), Moses is said to have lifted up the rod of God in his hands. When the rod was lifted up on high, Israel prevailed. When Moses dropped his hands (and thus the rod, too), Amalek prevailed.

What happened? I am inclined to think along the natural lines, and think that the rod served primarily as a device which, in this instance, had no “special powers” attached to it, apart from its ability to impart a real sense of faith and encouragement to Joshua, who — let us reason — would have looked upwards from time to time at Moses, his chief (so to speak).

Joshua, being somewhat inexperienced, would have looked upwards at Moses, as if to say, “What next, boss?” in a similar manner that any inexperienced warrior would go to his commander to get advice. In this case, Moses was at the top of the mountain, and had the best “vantage point.” (This is both figurative and real, in that he truly was at the highest level both spiritually and physically.)

Moses had one piece of advice, “Keep your eyes fixed on God. He’s the One who is going to win this one for you!” That, really, was what the lifting up of the rod was all about (in my opinion).

” … when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.” (Exodus 17:11)

In light of our context, another way to read this might simply be, “When Joshua kept his eyes fixed on the Lord, Israel prevailed: and when he took his eyes off the Lord and put them on the circumstances that were around him, Amalek prevailed.”

In light of this … whom are we focusing on in our day to day battles? Is it the Lord, or is it our circumstances? God promises victory to all who will keep their eyes focused on him!