Exodus Devotional | Day 2: An Apparent Disadvantage
The Book of Exodus
The Greatness of God to His People in Need
A Hand Against the Throne and a Raised Staff, Day 2
“Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, saying, “A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” - (Exodus 17:8-16)
Over the last year or so, I’ve learned something in my Bible study and reading of other pastors’ and theologians (now you know I learned at least one thing in the past year!). It seems that God really likes to operate from a position of apparent disadvantage. We covered this weeks ago when I asked you to take note that God didn’t choose a great and powerful military leader from a great and powerful family to free his people. He chose a baby from a nobody household, placed him in a basket, and sent him down a crocodile infested Nile. He chose the Israelites, an enslaved people, for his own...not a mighty and powerful nation, like the Egyptians.
When Joshua (first mentioned here, in Exodus 17) is told to take the city of Jericho, God tells him to attack with a marching band. When Gideon is told to fight the enemy army of thousands, God first whittles his own army down to a mere three hundred. When Goliath of Gath, the tallest and most savage soldier who ever lived, threatened and mocked God’s people, God sent a thirteen year old shepherd boy--armed not with a sword, but a few rocks and a sling. When God decided it was time to defeat Satan and the power of sin in the world, he again sent a baby…
Here, in Exodus 17, the Israelites face the Amalekites. The enemy has been free to run its own affairs for centuries. They’ve fought and won battles. They have their own towns and cities. They have a supply chain. Yes, the Israelites have some weapons the Egyptians gave them as they left--but instead of hardened soldiers, the Israelites were more like seven year old boys, dressed up as ninjas on Halloween. All the Vegas odds would have been betting against Israel--that’s the smart bet. It’s just not the godly bet.
With an untrained army with untried commanders, Moses sits on a hilltop with his staff raised over his head. To the rest of the world in any era, this would look downright silly. Stupid, in fact. Nevertheless, the foolishness of God puts to shame the wise of the world; his weakness shames the strong (1 Corinthians 1:18-31).
If it were possible for you to get a good hamburger at McDonald’s (I know, I know...just stick with me. I’m trying to prove a point), who should get the credit? The cook in the back or the clown out front? That’s right! When we are at a disadvantage--weakened, poorer, less-equipped, outnumbered...even sick...that’s when the Lord likes to show his power. With one hand tied behind his back, weak and limited people like us become the pointy end of the stick God wields. So, let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord! (1 Corinthians 1:31)
List the ways you feel you’re at a disadvantage--I’m sure you don’t have to think too hard. It’s part of the human condition to focus on the difficult, negative things. In ways do you feel like you aren’t enough, don’t have enough, don’t know enough?
I want you to go through that list and say to each of those things: “That’s probably true. I am too weak here, too ignorant, too hurt, too poor, or too frightened.” We need to admit the truth and face the hard things, rather than pretend like those things aren’t true and don’t exist.
Now, I want you to pray and ask the Lord to show his strength and wisdom--ask the Lord to show you how he’s revealing his power in your weakness, his wealth in your poverty, his eternal life in your sickness.
Finally, I want you to just obey the Lord in the things he’s already told you to do. To go about the Christian life when faced with a frightening enemy seems foolish--but the Lord wins and we find good reason to boast.