“And [Moses] called the name of the place Massah and Meribah,
because of the quarreling of the people of Israel,
and because they tested the Lord by saying,
“Is the Lord among us or not?”
Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim.”
I’ve had reason to ponder some chapters in Exodus lately. And as I’m reading about the Israelites and Amalekites and Rephidim and Massah and Meribah — none of which I can directly relate to,
I’m blown away by the truths this book has for me…
It’s more proof that the Word of God is living and active. I’m thanking Him for that this morning.
Because through the experience of His people called the Israelites thousands of years ago, He teaches me about the experience of Christians today. About my experience today.
And not about vague, intangible, pretty-much-useless-things.
These lessons are real, specific, pretty-sure-I’ll-need-them-today types of things.
You and I probably don’t have a real mortal enemy who comes to attack us, with intent to kill us. I know I don’t. I hope you don’t either! And so it’s sometimes challenging to find application for phrases like: “Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim.”
So here’s what we need to remember: our primary enemy is Satan. Any time Scripture is describing an enemy, instead of imagining an army encamped around God’s people or a deceiving relative plotting a king’s murder or a lunatic king hunting down a young man and casting spears at him…
remember your enemy.
The enemy of your soul.
The enemy of your family.
The enemy of your ministry.
The enemy of your Father’s plans for you.
The enemy of all that is good and beautiful and whole.
Our loving Father uses people like the Amalekites to warn us of our enemy’s tactics.
Just like Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim, our enemy launches some of his fiercest attacks on us when we’re already weak.
You see, immediately prior to arriving at Rephidim, God’s people had spent a long time in the wilderness, where there had been no food readily available (Exodus 16).
And when they arrived at Rephidim, they found it was a place with no water readily available (17:1-7).
Certainly Amalek knew of the lack of food and water in the places the Israelites had been. And so they did what any cunning enemy would do: they took advantage of the perceived weakness, and attacked.
They had no way of knowing that the Bread of Life had sent down manna to miraculously feed His people in the wilderness, or that the Rock of Ages had miraculously sprung forth water to hydrate them.
God provided wonderfully for His people’s sustenance. But the recounting of their journey shows that they were complainers at heart (aren’t we all?), and their journey wasn’t as comfortable as they would’ve liked.
So in spite of having their needs tenderly met by a generous God, and seeing His great grace in rescuing them from Egypt and bringing them to Himself, they felt entitled to more.
Which led to quarreling among themselves…
and questioning whether this great God who fed Him with His own hand was even with them at all.
Friends, people aren’t our enemy (Ephesians 6:12). Especially not other believers. Our real enemy just wants to weaken us by making us think so.
And when I fall for his tactic and engage people in warfare, it’s not without great risk.
Fighting with my spouse makes my home ripe for the enemy’s attack.
Fighting with family members makes my family ripe for the enemy’s attack.
Fighting with a brother or sister in Christ makes me and perhaps even my local church as a whole ripe for the enemy’s attack.
And having an unthankful heart that leads me to doubt God’s provision and grace and presence and maybe even His existence makes me ripe for the enemy’s attack.
Friends, I implore you to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10). Drink from the fount of Living Water today. Spend time feasting on the Bread of Life today. Take the Sword of the Spirit in your hand, and prepare for the enemy today (Ephesians 6:17). Choose to see grace today. Choose to shed the notion that you deserve more than a cross, because none of us does. Bask in God’s provision of enough for you today, and reject the urge to complain about not having more.
Do these as though your life and your family and your ministry and your Father’s future plans for you and all that is beautiful, good, and whole in your life depend on it.
Because they do.
Written by Jennifer Clarke