Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Refidim. Moshe said to Y’hoshua, “Choose men for us, go out, and fight with ‘Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with God’s staff in my hand.”-Exodus 17:8-9
From verse 8, out of the blue, we are told the Israelites were suddenly attacked by a group of people called Amalek.
Who is Amalek?
Amalek are the descendants of Esau and thus are closely related to Israel.
They became enemies of Israel due to the split between the twin brothers Jacob and Esau.
Remember Jacob’s name was changed to Israel and is the father of the 12 tribes of Israel.
And recall how Jacob duped Esau out of his firstborn blessing and all of the wealth and power that came with it.
Many modern Arabs today are descendants from the family of Amalek.
So it makes sense that Amalek were the first people to attack Israel.
In verse 17, we have God uttering the following concerning Amalek:
“Write this in a book to be remembered, and tell it to Y’hoshua:
I will completely blot out any memory of ‘Amalek from under heaven.”
Why such a scathing condemnation?
Well, later we are told in Deuteronomy 25 that Amalek concentrated their attack on the rear of the long column of Israel which consisted of mainly the feeble and elderly folk.
This was a horrendous and satanic crime against Israel, especially considering that Israel had in no way threatened Amalek.
Now while Amalek is a real and tangible people group, they also represent a type that is established here in Chapter 17.
Consider that Amalek were the first people to attack Israel after being saved from Egypt.
The spiritual principle brought to the fore here is this:
Amalek represents those gentiles who come against Israel.
Amalek is that force which seeks to oppose God’s people and God’s purposes for His people.
And we are told that until the end of time, these two forces will be at war with each other.
Later the first King of Israel named Saul will be ordered by God to completely destroy Amalek for what they did to Israel here.
Unfortunately, Saul failed to completely obliterate all of Amalek.
A couple of centuries later, we are told the evil Haman who plotted to have the Jews exterminated in Persia was also a descendant of Amalek.
Now what’s interesting is that this confrontation with Amalek is a battle that God wanted Israel to fight.
How do we know this?
Prior to this first battle with a hostile neighbor, God had arranged for Israel to avoid conflict by insisting they travel along the desert wilderness route instead of taking the direct route to Canaan which is the major highway between Egypt and Canaan known as the Way of the Philistines.
But not this time.
God wanted Israel to meet Amalek, oppose them and ultimately defeat them.
There are two takeaways I get from this.
First, God wants us to oppose and defeat the satanic spirit of Amalek as it exists in the world today.
Remember I just said that Amalek represents those gentiles who would oppose Israel or God’s plan for Israel.
We are not to unite with, bow down to, or in anyway have anything to do with the spirit of Amalek in the world today, which is really just the spirit of satan.
So how are we to be victorious over this spirit of Amalek in the world today?
Well, this leads me to my second takeaway and is connected with Moses’s staff being referred to here as a “banner” to God.
Understand, that in ancient times, one’s staff was a symbol of one’s authority and power.
So Moses’s staff represented his authority to the people.
However, when Moses raised his staff to the heavens as we are told he did in this battle with Amalek, he was surrendering his human authority and power over to God.
The final point is this and herein lies the secret to victory.
When we refuse to yield our personal authority over our lives to the Lord, then we are NOT usable by God.
It doesn’t matter how strong, intelligent or wealthy one is, if one doesn’t completely surrender him or herself over to the Lord, God cannot use that person.
However, when one makes a decision to turn the authority of their lives over to God, that’s when miracles begin to happen.
Under Moses’s authority, the staff he held in his hand was just a dead piece of wood.
However, under God’s authority, it turned the Nile into blood, split the Red Sea, and as we see here, defeated Amalek.
This is the secret to victory in the believer’s life.