Young people, Amalek is coming to attack you and to destroy you utterly. Are you ready to fight? Is your sword in your hand? Are you following Jesus, your brave captain? Is Jehovah your banner?
According to the text Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. Amalek was a nation in southern Canaan made up of the descendants of Amalek, the grandson of Esau (see Gen. 14:7; Num. 13:29; Gen. 36:12). Thus Amalek was not just another heathen nation, but a people tracing their ancestry back to Esau, Isaac, and Abraham, and thus to the line of the covenant. Amalek himself did not grow up in the sphere of the covenant as did his grandfather Esau, but Amalek and the Amalekites were the apostate descendants of Esau, that reprobate man who forsook the covenant. Amalekites today are members of apostate churches who say they are Christians, but practice the religion of the world: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Amalek hates the true Christ and his church. Amalek attacked Israel with one purpose: to destroy her utterly and keep her out of the promised land.
Amalek attacked Israel when she was young. Young people, this word is for you! Israel was not an old, well-established, battle-ready nation at this time. No, Israel was still young, unorganized, and inexperienced as a nation. Israel had been delivered from Egypt through the Red Sea only a few months earlier, and had just begun her long, difficult journey through the wilderness to the promised land. Amalek attacked her precisely when she was still young and vulnerable (see Deut. 25:17–18). Likewise the Amalek of today attacks you, young people, precisely now when you are still young, still near the outset of the Christian life, still inexperienced in many of the trials of life, still spiritually vulnerable. Amalek attacks you in the workplace, neighborhood, college classroom, sports field, and elsewhere. Pay attention, young people. This word is for you!
Amalek attacks you through powerful temptations. A young Amalekite man may tempt a young Israelite woman to go out with him. He says to her, “Has anyone ever told you how beautiful you are? We could have a lot of fun together. I would love to take you out sometime. We could go dancing together or catch a flick.” He tries to draw her by his flattery, charm, and good looks. Amalek attacks. Or a young Amalekite may tempt a young Israelite to leave his Christian friends and enjoy worldly pleasures with him. He says, “Come! Let’s go to Egypt. You don’t want to wander in this wilderness. You don’t want to live such a strict lifestyle. You don’t have to deny yourself. You don’t have to avoid a good time. Come! Let’s go to Egypt. Let’s have some fun! Let’s go to the bar and get drunk. Let’s go to the theater. Let’s go to the dance club. Let’s go to the casino. Let’s go to Egypt.” Amalek attacks. Or a young Amalekite may tempt a young Israelite by saying, “You should come to my church. You don’t want to go to your church. Your church is so strict and intolerant. Your church is too harsh and old-fashioned. You have to sit through two long, boring sermons every Sunday? Come to my church. We are open-minded and tolerant. We know how to have fun. Our worship services are contemporary with a band, dramas, and skits. You will enjoy it.” Amalek attacks.
Young people, are you ready to fight back?
Israel fought back. Moses appointed Joshua to lead Israel into battle (v. 9). Joshua chose men and led them into battle against Amalek. Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of a hill where they watched the battle down below (v. 10). Moses carried the rod of God in his hand. Whenever Moses held up that rod toward heaven, Israel prevailed against Amalek. But whenever Moses let down the rod, Amalek prevailed against Israel (v. 11). Therefore Aaron and Hur took a stone and set Moses on it. Then they each took hold of one of Moses’ hands and held them up toward heaven until the setting of the sun (v. 12). Then Joshua discomfited Amalek with the edge of the sword, scattering them and forcing them to flee (v. 13). Israel won the victory by an amazing wonder of the power and grace of Jehovah.
Young people, note first that God gave Israel the victory, and God gives us the victory too. The Israelites could not win the victory of their own strength, and neither can we. But God fought for Israel, and he fights for us. Jehovah was on their side. He gave them power. He caused their swords to find their marks. He turned the tide of the battle. He made Israel to prevail. He gave the victory, moreover, through Moses and Joshua, that is, through Christ. Moses and Joshua were types of Christ—Moses up on the hill and Joshua down in the valley. Christ fought for us up on the hill of Calvary with his arms stretched out on the cross. He fought against Amalek and against the devil who works through them. He fought by shedding his blood. He fought until he won the victory. He is greater than Moses because he never grew weary, never let down his arms from the cross, and never needed help from any other. He kept both arms stretched out until the battle was won. He fought in the darkness and finally uttered the victory cry, “It is finished!” Christ also fights for us down in the valley of our lives in our battles against strong temptations. He fights by his Spirit whom he pours into our hearts. He fights by his Word that he preaches through faithful ministers. He fights by giving us the will and strength to fight against the Amalekites when they attack us.
Second, note that God gave Israel the victory through her own fighting and by faith. Israel fought against Amalek. God did not give Israel the victory apart from her fighting. Israel fought. They took up the sword and fought. Moses’ hands held up to heaven were a sign of their faith in Jehovah for the victory. You too must fight. You must take up the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17), and fight against Amalek, as Jesus fought against the devil. You must fight by saying to the young Amalekite who tempts you to date him, “It is written, Thou shalt not make marriages with unbelievers because they will turn you away from serving the LORD (Deut. 7:3-4).” It is written, “Can two walk together except they be agreed (Amos 3:3)?” It is written, “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14).” You must fight against the young Amalekite who tempts you to go into the world by saying, “It is written, have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but reprove them (Eph. 5:11).” You must fight against the young Amalekite who tempts you to abandon the true church and go to his apostate church by saying, “It is written, stand fast and hold the traditions you have been taught (2 Thess. 2:15).” It is written, “Be faithful unto death, and Christ will give you a crown of life (Rev. 2:10).” You, young people, must fight against Amalek. Are you ready to do so? Is your sword in your hand? Are your hands lifted up toward heaven in faith toward God?
Are you also helping to hold up the hands of your fellow young people? Remember Aaron and Hur. Hold up the hands of your fellow young people when you see them struggling in this battle of faith! When your friend is sorely tempted to date a young man of the world, hold up her hands! Don’t pull down her hands by telling her to go for it, but hold up her hands by urging her to say No to that young man. When your fellow young person is grievously tempted to follow Amalek into Egypt and indulge in worldly pleasures, hold up his hands! Don’t pull down his hands by indulging in those pleasures yourself, but hold up his hands by urging him to say no and to avoid those unfruitful works of darkness. When your fellow young person is powerfully tempted to leave the true church and to join a false or apostatizing church, hold up her hands! Don’t tell her that it does not matter what church she attends, but hold up her hands by urging her to be faithful to the truth of Jesus Christ and warning her against the evil of apostasy. Hold up the hands of your friends toward heaven where Christ sits at God’s right hand. Hold up their hands toward Christ who died for us and saved us from sin and hell. Hold up their hands that they might look to him in faith in all their temptations.
The victory is sure, for Jehovah is our banner. After God gave Israel the victory over Amalek, Moses erected an altar and named it “Jehovah-nissi,” that is, “Jehovah is my Banner” (v. 15). Jehovah is our banner. We fight under the banner of Jehovah himself. We fight in his cause, by the power of his Spirit, and as soldiers of the cross of his Son. Therefore the victory is sure. Amalek will not prevent us from reaching the heavenly Canaan. We are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us. Fight this battle, young people, in that confidence.