God’s Provision And Protection Of Israel


Exodus 17

A. Water from the rock.

1. The congregation of Israel contends with Moses, Exodus 17:1-4.

a. ‘As the Lord commanded’, but there was no water for the people to drink. At this point, Israel was completely in the will of God, yet there was no water to drink! Just because we are having problems, it doesn’t mean we are out of the will of God.

i. No water for the people to drink, this is not an imaginary problem, the people are right to be concerned. But the people then contended with Moses, showing they responded to the problem in the flesh.

b. Though the people focused their complaint against Moses, Moses understood that their problem was against the Lord. Why do you tempt the Lord?

i. When we have a problem, instead of thinking ‘I’m in a desert, it’s not surprising there isn’t much water here. I need to look to God to meet this need,’ we do what Israel did, we look for someone to blame. But that solved nothing!

c. The lack of water isn’t Moses’ fault, yet as the leader of Israel, he must lead them to the answer. Moses cried out to the Lord.

i. Moses knew the people were being unfair. What shall I do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me! but he still had to lead while under the pressure of unfair attack, and he did the right thing in turning to God.

2. God tells Moses how water will be provided, Exodus 17:5-6.

a. ‘Go on before the people.’ Moses still had to lead, even in a difficult situation. A leader under attack may find it easy to shrink back from leadership, but God still wants leaders to lead!

b. ‘Take with you some of the elders’. At the same time, Moses needed to lead in concert with the men of wisdom the Lord had given Israel.

c. ‘Take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river.’ God had Moses use what had been successful before, this no doubt gave confidence to Moses, to use what had been proven useful.

i. Certainly, Moses couldn’t pick up that rod without remembering the power of God, the confidence he received by picking up the rod was a confidence in God, not himself.

d. ‘Behold, I will stand before you there’. Most importantly, God would be with Moses through this difficult challenge of his leadership Now Moses could lead boldly!

e. ‘Water will come out of it’. The plan made no sense, but Moses had to operate in obedience to God. The wisdom of the plan could only be seen in its ultimate success.

i. God required faith in Moses the leader, to do such a thing in front of the nation and the elders meant Moses had to have a lot of trust in God, think how foolish he would look if it failed!

3. After God provides water, Moses names the place as a rebuke to the children of Israel, Exodus 17:7.

a. Naturally speaking, this rock may have held an artesian spring which God caused to burst forth when Moses struck the rock. To give drink to that many people would have required the Niagara Falls.

b. God remembered the way Israel tested Him at Massah and Meribah, recalling it in Deuteronomy 6:16 ‘Do not put the LORD your God to the test as you did at Massah.’ See also Deuteronomy 9:22 / Deuteronomy 33:8.

c. What made this incident so important to God? Because they tempted the Lord by saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’ In a time of difficulty, the children of Israel, directly or indirectly, doubted the loving presence and care of God among them

d. Later, when Israel remembered God’s provision in the wilderness at the Feast of Tabernacles, they had a specific ceremony where they recalled this miracle of water from a rock. In that exact context, Jesus said, ‘On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ John 7:37-38

i. The living water Jesus spoke of was the Holy Spirit, John 7:39.

It is no less miraculous for God to bring the love and power of the Holy Spirit out of our hearts than it is to bring water out of a rock, our hearts can be just as hard!

ii. Jesus was struck with Moses’ rod, the curse of the law, and from Him flows water to satisfy our spiritual thirst.

Let the water and the blood, From Thy riven side which flowed, Be of sin the double cure, Save me from its wrath and power.

B. God brings victory to Israel over the Amalekites.

1. Amalek battles Israel, the power of Moses’ prayer, Exodus 17:8-11.

a. This was an unprovoked attack by Amalek against Israel, Moses calls Joshua to lead the armies of Israel into battle.

i. This is the first mention of Joshua, we find him doing what he does until the time Moses passes from the scene, Joshua is serving Moses Joshua did as Moses said to him.

b. The method of attack used by Amalek was despicable, Deuteronomy 25:17-18.

c. Moses supports the work, behind the scenes, in prayer, the fate of Israel in battle depends on Moses’ intercession.

i. Held up his hand describes the Israelite posture of prayer, as we might bow our heads and fold our hands, when Moses prayed, Israel won, when he stopped praying, Amalek prevailed.

ii. How could this be? How could life or death for Israel depend on the prayers of one man? God wants us to pray with this kind of passion, believing that life and death, perhaps eternally, may depend on our prayer.

iii. In his early days, Moses thought the only way to win a battle was to fight. Now he will let Joshua fight, while he does the more important work, pray for the victory.

2. Moses’ hands are strengthened in prayer, Exodus 17:12-13.

a. Aaron and Hur come alongside Moses and literally hold his hands up in prayer, they help him and partner with him in intercession.

b. Though this was Moses’ work to do, it was more than he could do, the battle of prayer could not be won by him alone. He needed others to come alongside and strengthen him in prayer.

i. Prayer is sometimes easy, other times it is hard work. This is why Paul describes the ministry of Epaphras as always labouring fervently for you in prayers, Colossians 4:12.

And why Paul says we must continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving, Colossians 4:2.

c. Because of this work of prayer, Israel was victorious over Amalek, we are left with no other option than to say if Moses, Aaron, and Hur had not done the work in prayer, the battle would not have been won, and history would have been changed.

i. How much victory is lacking because God’s people will not pray?

d. When Jesus accomplished the greatest victory over Satan, His hands were stretched out.

3. A never-ending battle with Amalek, Exodus 17:14-16.

a. Because of God’s strong command to battle against Amalek until they are completely conquered, many see the Amalekites as a picture of our flesh, which constantly battles against the spirit and must be struggled against until completely conquered, Galatians 5:17.

b. Though Moses knew his prayer was important, he wasn’t foolish enough to think that he had won the battle, in worship, he builds an altar and praises the name of ‘Yahweh-Nissi, that is to say, The Lord is My Banner.

i. Nissi refers to a flag or a banner, this is the idea of God, victorious in battle. The same word is used of the serpent on the pole in Numbers 21:8-9.

ii. Psalm 60:4 ‘But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow.’ Isaiah 11:10.

c. Israel was disobedient to the command to constantly war against Amalek in the days of Saul, this was the primary act of disobedience that cost Saul the throne, 1 Samuel 15:2-9 / 1 Samuel 28:18.



"For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."