The Defeat of the Amalekites

In Exodus 17, Moses brought forth water from a rock at Massah (testing) and Meribah (quarreling).   After that, Amalek came and fought with Israel at Refidim.  Scripture continues by telling us that Joshua led the Israelites into battle while Moses stood on top of the hill with the staff of God in his hand. 

At first Moses’ location may not seem too unusual considering he is an old man.  It seems only natural that the younger generation should go into battle.  The Scriptures also tell us that Aaron and Hur accompanied Moses up the hill and when Moses’ hand was raised up, Israel was winning but when he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 

This may seem to be an odd way to win a battle but our story continues to baffle us.  As time went on, it became more difficult for Moses to keep his hands raised.  Aaron and Hur took a stone and put it under Moses so he could sit on it.  Aaron and Hur stood on opposite sides of Moses to keep his hands steady until sunset.  As a result of this, Joshua was able to defeat the people of Amalek with the sword. 

After the Amalekites were defeated, the Lord told Moses to write a memorial of this event in a book.  The Lord continued by promising to utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.  Moses then built an altar and called its name, “The Lord Is My Banner” because the Lord swore to have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

As we’ve already mentioned, this appears to be a very strange historical event that resulted in victory.  Many would be quick to read past it looking for some other passage of Scripture to apply to their lives but the fact it was recorded was for a purpose.  I believe it was written to give God’s people snapshots of the future.

Ever since this battle took place, God intended for the Amalekites to be destroyed.  In Deuteronomy 25:17-19, Israel was commanded:   “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, 18 how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. 19 Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.”  NKJV

Even by Samuel’s day, King Saul said he had destroyed Amalek according to the command of the Lord but he had failed to properly obey Him by completely wiping them out.  Since Saul did not kill King Agag and the best of their animals, Samuel killed King Agag and told Saul that because of his disobedience, the Lord was going to hand him over to the Philistines (1 Sam. 15).  Despite this battle, a remnant of the Amalekites survives to this day.

We know this is true because Numbers 24:20 says, “Then he [Balaam] looked on Amalek, and he took up his oracle and said:  “Amalek was first among the nations, But shall be last until he perishes.”  NKJV

Many years after Balaam’s prophecy took place, Jesus was born and raised.  Toward the end of His ministry, the Jews hoped He would be their Messiah and King.  They wanted Him to throw off the power of the Romans but this was not God’s plan at the time.  Jesus was going to become what Moses, Aaron, and Hur pictured long ago as He died with His arms raised up on a wooden cross between two thieves.  At that time, a major spiritual battle was taking place.  Even though it was only the early afternoon, it became dark as if the sun had already gone down.   At the time of the evening sacrifice, Jesus died on the cross yet was victorious in the spiritual realm.  Jesus was quickly buried in a tomb that was cut from a rock before the first High Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread began.  Three days later, there was a great earthquake because an angel of the Lord had come down from heaven and rolled away the stone.  As the angel sat on this stone, he told the women who had come to anoint Jesus’ body to go in and see that Jesus’ body was gone because He had risen from the dead (Matt 28:1-7).

Now let’s fast forward to the future.  While Moses, Aaron, and Hur were a picture of what would eventually happen to Jesus, Joshua was a picture of what Jesus will do when He returns on the Day of the Lord.  As we look at that, it’s important to note what brings about Jesus’ return.

Psalms 83:1-8 says, “Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, And do not be still, O God! 2 For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; And those who hate You have lifted up their head. 3 They have taken crafty counsel against Your people, And consulted together against Your sheltered ones. 4 They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.” 5 For they have consulted together with one consent; They form a confederacy against You: 6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagrites; 7 Gebal, Ammon, and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; 8 Assyria also has joined with them; They have helped the children of Lot.”  NKJV

As you can see, many nations plan to come against Israel in the last days.  On the Day of the Lord, Jesus, who is called Faithful and True will return on a white horse to judge and make war against them. He will literally be the Banner of Israel as He leads His armies who will be following Him on white horses.   A sharp sword will go out of His mouth to strike the nations.   Just as Joshua (also called Yeshua) defeated the Amalekites with the sword in Moses’ day, Yeshua (also called Jesus; also means salvation) will defeat all of Israel’s enemies including the Amalekites with His sword. 

Eventually, the Great White throne judgment will take place.  Books will be opened including the Book of Life.  The dead will be judged according to what they had done.  Anyone whose name had been blotted out of the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire. 

Take the time to read Psalm 9 to see how David must have seen all of this coming long ago.  David encouraged everyone to sing praise to the Lord and to proclaim His deeds among the people.  He tells us:

  • The Avenger of Blood (Jesus, our Kinsman Redeemer) remembers Israel’s enemies.
  • The names of Israel’s enemies will be blotted out forever.
  • The Avenger of Blood will execute judgment.
  • The wicked will return to hell. 

Praise His holy name!


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