Exodus Teaching - 06 - Then Came Amalek

Title: Exodus Teaching - 06 - Then Came Amalek
Category: Bible Studies
Subject: Exodus Study

Exodus Teaching Series #6

TITLE: Then Came Amalek

TEXT: Exodus 17:8-16


I was a young pastor in a new church. We had a practically new sanctuary and a large educational facility that was even newer. I was genuinely excited about the opportunities that awaited us. Then the attendance on the first two Sundays hit me right in the face with a sobering dose of reality! Maybe I should say the lack of attendance. Based on what I had been told, and the Sunday School enrollment, we should have had twice as many people in services as we were having. I hit the streets, knocking on doors. Over and over, I had people telling me, “We are not members of your church! We go to Riverside.” Or, First Baptist, or some other church. They never taught that in Evangelism classes in seminary!

I asked a few of our leaders about that and a deacon explained that the previous pastor had only stayed there five and a half months and he had one long “revival” in which he enrolled anyone one who visited in Sunday School. I had to visit people and cut about one-third of our Sunday School enrollment. I would visit someone and tell them where I was pastor and hear them say, “I hope you are not like one pastor they had!” And they were not talking about the same man!

I went to the radio station to preach and discovered that the owner and manager was a man I had known when I was the Youth Minister of another church. Since he felt that he knew me, I supposed the felt that he should warn me about my new church. He pointed toward the end of the street and said, “They tell me that’s a preacher’s graveyard up there.” Whoever told him that could not have been more wrong. Those gracious people were grossly misrepresented, but I didn’t know that at first.

I made arrangements to attend the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting and asked the treasurer about my convention expenses. We had an informal meeting in which deacons explained that another pastor had led them in building those new building and we were struggling to make the “Bond and Coupon Account” payments. Those men made up the money for my expenses. As a matter of fact, every pastor should have the support those men and their families gave me over the years.

I had followed what I felt sure was the Lord’s leadership to a church which I was led to believe was on fire for the Lord. We had the potential to fill those buildings with people. They never came! How many times has a pastor moved to a new church, anticipating the church he dreamed about while he was in seminary, only to find an historic cloud hanging over everything that church attempts to do? The church that seeks to win the lost and help Christians to grow in Christ-likeness may expect the devil to get in the way. In our context today’ “then came Amalek!”

In case you don’t remember Amalek, let me remind you that just as soon as the Israelites were delivered from Egypt by the mighty hand of God, right after they stopped to sing praises to the Lord, and right after they started marching toward Sinai, Amalek fell upon them. Some pastors have warned that after you have had a mountain top experience you had better watch out because the devil will certainly attack while you are celebrating. Right after my Junior year in high school I had a mountain top experience at the Southern Baptist Conference Center at Ridgecrest, North Carolina. I was so excited I could hardly wait to get home and tell my family and friends from school and from my church about it. What actually happened? I had to get on a tractor and head to the cotton field for a dose of reality! If I had known about Amalek I would have been looking for him that first day as I descended from mountain peak, not to a beautiful valley but to a hot, humid cotton field in the Mississippi Delta.

In a special message today from the Book of Exodus I want to show you that it is not uncommon for a person to march out in the power of the Lord, under His protection, and with His provisions, into the unknown only to come under what seemed like an unexpected attack from an unexpected enemy.
Then came Amalek!


A. He Had Called Abraham to Go to a Promised Land.

Abraham, the father of the Israelites, as well as many other nations (all of the same race!) was living in Ur of the Chaldees when the Lord appeared to him and told him to take all his possessions and go to a land He would give to him and his descendants. Abraham obeyed the Lord and set out on the journey. By simple faith he followed the Lord. His trust in the Lord was such that he would be known for thousands of years at the father of the faithful. Tell me, whose name is better known today than the name Abraham? Whose name is held in higher esteem than his? The name Abraham appears 272 times in the Bible. In the first book in the New Testament, the name Abraham appears in the genealogy if the Messiah.

B. He Settled Abraham in the Promised Land.

Abraham faithfully followed the Lord from his home to the Promised Land, the Land of Canaan. I believe it was Abraham’s practice to stop at various junctures and build an altar and call on the name of the Lord. However, when he arrived in the Land of Promise there was a famine in the land! People who follow the Lord never expect to find a famine in the land of promise. Abraham was no exception. Instead of building an altar and calling on the name of the Lord, Abraham fled to Egypt, only to be returned to the place of his last altar by the Lord’s intervention. The three great promises in the Abrahamic Covenant are obvious in the world today: (1) the descendants of Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob, occupy the Land of Promise today; (2) his descendants, including the Arab world, are more than one can number, and that number is growing every day; (3) His Seed (singular, meaning Jesus) is worshiped by millions of people. The Lord never made a promise He has not, or will not fulfill.

C. The Land of Canaan Would Belong to Abraham’s Descendants Some Day.

The Lord told Abraham that He would give his descendants the land of Canaan, but they would go into another country and live there for 400 years before coming back to possess the land. There is no record of Abraham’s response to that, but if he was anything like most people today he must have wondered why the Lord didn’t act to make this happen during his lifetime. However, when you think about it, it would take a significant period of time for the descendants of Abraham to grow as a nation to the point that they would be strong enough to conquer the land of the Canaanites. Actually, the one thing that stands out in Abraham’s relationship with the Lord was his faith. He simply believed God.

Abraham and his wife Sarah were blessed in their old age with a son whom they named Isaac. Isaac and his wife Rebekah had twin sons who often clashed and as far as we are told, Jacob was the one behind most of the trouble. He cheated Esau out of his blessing and his birthright, and finally had to flee to his mother’s family in Paddan-Aram to escape the wrath of Esau. Paddan-Aram means either “way of Syria” or “field of Syria”, so when you read about Syria in some translations today, you know Aram is intended. Today, as I write this message, Syria is in the middle of a bloody civil war, and even in a civil war they are still a threat to the Chosen People. In time, the Lord brought Jacob (heel grasper, or trickster) home and changed his name to Israel (meaning Prince with God). Jacob had two wives, Leah and Rachel, and twelve sons born to those wives and their servants.

One son, Joseph, had dreams that his brothers would some day bow before him. He was already his father’s favorite, and his older brothers hated him and sold him into slavery to some Midianites, who in turn sold him to one Potipahr in Egypt. Later, when there was a famine in the land of Canaan, Jacob sent is ten older sons down to Egypt where someone had carefully prepared for this famine that spread across the region. Little did they realize that they would bow before their brother Joseph, whom the Lord had raised from slavery and from prison to great power in Egypt. Joseph met his brothers, who did not know him, and tricked them into bringing his younger brother Benjamin back to see him. Pharaoh invited Joseph to bring his family and settle them in the fertile land of Goshen where they increased in number from seventy to possibly as many as two million, according to some estimates. A reason suggested for settling the Israelites in Goshen was that they wore beards and the Egyptian men were clean shaven. Regardless of that, their numbers disturbed a new pharaoh and led him to fear them so much he enslaved them and began trying to reduce their numbers through a very abusive form of slavery and then by having the male babies killed.

D. The Israelites Cried out to the Lord and He Heard Them.

The Lord had miraculously saved one male baby eighty years earlier when his parents put him in a basket and hid him in reeds in the Nile River where Pharaoh’s daughter bathed. She saw the basket and ordered her servants to bring it to her. There was a baby in the basket and suddenly a little Hebrew girl ran to the Princess and asked if she would like for her to find a Hebrew woman to nurse and care for the baby. Of course, you know the story. Moses’ mother nursed him and prepared him for his life as the son of the princess of Egypt.

Moses was as prepared for leadership as anyone we can imagine in that world. He had the best education one could find anywhere, the finest training in leadership, military strategy and tactics, commerce, and politics. Then, when he was forty years old, and certainly ready for a leadership role in Egypt, he defended a Hebrew slave by killing an Egyptian who was abusing him. When he learned that Pharaoh had found out about it, he fled to the Land of Midian where he married the daughter of Jethro and served him for another forty years.

When he was eighty years old, the Lord appeared to him, speaking to him from a burning bush that was not being consumed. Don’t be shocked by this miracle, a time of mighty miracles was just beginning. He told Moses He was sending him back to Egypt to lead the Children of Israel out of slavery, bondage, and death to a land flowing with milk and honey; the land God had promised Abraham! Abraham had been gone from the scene for a half a millennium, but Yahweh, the God who spoke to Moses from the burning bush was ever present, and he announced to Moses that He would deliver Israel by His mighty hand.

E. By His Mighty Hand, He Delivered His Chosen People.

Through a series of ten plagues, the Lord demonstrated to the people of Egypt that none of their gods could stand against Him. In fact, all of the gods of Egypt combined could not resist anything He chose to do. The final plague was the death of the first born in the land of Egypt, including the first born son of Pharaoh, who promoted himself as a god himself. The first born among the Israelites were spared when they killed a lamb without blemish and smeared some of its blood on the door posts and on the lintel of the door. My son Mark, who is an Interior Designer, heard a contractor refer to the decorative molding over the outside of windows in a church building as lintels, and privately explained to me that a lintel is a cross bar or cross piece above a door that rests upon two upright posts (or studs). They were told to eat of the Passover Lamb that night and be ready to march out of Egypt the next day.

Few stories are better known than the deliverance of the Israelites through the Red Sea by the mighty hand of God, as we are told in the Scripture. Those people had seen the ten plagues, they had escaped from the Egyptian army through the Red Sea, they had stopped to sing praises to Yahweh, and then they had seen God miraculously turn bitter water to sweet water. He had given them manna to eat, as well as quail. He had given them an abundance of water from a rock (17:1-7). They must have been in a celebratory spirit as they moved on toward Sinai. When had any one group of people ever seen anything like it? And then it happened!

II. THEN CAME AMALEK (Exodus 17:8-18).

A. The Amalakites Knew About Israel.

One wonders if the Israelites had any idea who the Amalakites were. If so, could they have imagined why the Amalakites would try to destroy them. Actually, whether the Israelites knew it or not, Amalek was declaring war against God. But, why were these Amalekites attacking Israel? Where did they come from, and what did they have against Israel? What did they know about the Israelites? They knew enough. Could they have possibly known about God’s covenant with Abraham, or that the Israelites were the people of the Promise, the Covenant People? They knew something. Before you dismiss that idea, please remember the Middle East is full of people who will tell you they are the true descendants of Abraham, and they are determined to destroy Israel today. Who were these Amalakites? According to LeBrun Matthews (Holman Bible Dictionary): The Amalakites were:

“A nomadic tribe of formidable people that first attacked the Israelites after the Exodus at Rephidim. Descendants of Amalek, the grandson of Esau (Gen. 36:12), they inhabited the desolate wasteland of the northeast Sinai peninsula and the Negeb. They were the first to attack Israel after the Exodus (Num. 24:20). Israel won the initial battle (Ex. 17:8-16), but later was driven back into the Sinai wilderness by a coalition of Amalekites and Canaanites (Num. 14:39-45). Thereafter the Amalekites waged a barbaric guerrilla war against Israel (Deut. 25:17-19). Fighting continued after Israel settled in Canaan. Because of their atrocities, God commanded Saul to exterminate the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15:2-3). Saul disobeyed, and the Amalekites were not defeated completely until late in the eighth century B.C. (1 Chron. 4:43).”
[Holman Bible Dictionary - HBD]

B. News of the Exodus Would Have Spread Across the Region.

We can be sure that, with so many small nations in the region, every king wanted to know what was going on anywhere in the region that might effect his nation. The question is, how did news travel all over the region, and how did it travel so fast? For one thing, we can be sure the various nations sent out spies. There were also the caravans which moved from one country to another. A spy might be a part of a caravan, or various kings may have paid for information. Their survival depended upon information and the caravan leaders knew that. It is the same in the Middle East today, where there is intense hatred for Israel by those who are committed to “killing all Jews and driving them into the sea.” And, no! The issue is not race! With the exception of Iran, all those people are Semitic people.

If you want to get a picture of what may have gone on back in those days, read Louis L’Amour’s novel, The Walking Drum, and you will see how important it was for a caravan traveling throughout Europe and parts of the Middle East in the Middle Ages to know something of the politics, and military might and attitude of the rulers of the nations they visited in their travels. They needed to know what danger they faced as they moved from one country to another. In fact, their survival depended upon it. Those caravans would have had a significant number of trained and armed soldiers to protect the people, animals, and trade goods. Abraham’s servants were experts in warfare as well as caravan movements.

C. Amalek Attacked Israel Without Provocation, (Ex. 17:8-16).

The Israelites had been delivered from Egypt by the Lord’s powerful right hand, they had not simply escaped. With the slave drivers and the military watching their every move, escape was out of the question. In the same way, the lost person is a slave to sin, death, and Satan. He is dead in sin, dead to the purposes of God, dead to a relationship with God, dead to a fruitful life. As Egypt was a place of death and slavery, the lost person is dead to the blessings and purpose of God, and a slave to the enemy of God. The only ones who are delivered from death and slavery are those who are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, just as those ancient Israelites were required to eat the Passover Lamb the night before the Exodus, after they had smeared the blood of the lamb on the door posts and the lentil of the door. The Passover looked back to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and it looked ahead to the Messiah. Jesus fulfilled all the hopes, prayers, and promises of Passover. Paul reminds us that “...Christ our Passover has been sacrificed...” (1 Cor 5:7) Our redemption is in Jesus Christ.

Satan does not give up his slaves easily, just as Pharaoh refused to accept defeat, and pursued the Israelites until his army was destroyed by Yahweh in the Red Sea. Those who wage war against the Jesus Christ face destruction, not in the waters of Red Sea, but in the lake of fire that burns day and night for ever (Rev. 20:10, 14, 15). The Israelites watched the bodies of the Egyptians as they were washed up upon the shores, and then faced their journey. As we continue with the story of the attack by Amalek, remember that the Amalekites moved quickly to destroy the Israelites.

The Israelites had seen the hand of God as no other nation had ever seen it. They had seen the gods of Egypt knocked down and trampled upon by the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Egyptians had given them whatever they asked for to get them to leave Egypt after the death of the first born sons throughout the land of Egypt. It bears repeating that these Israelites had crossed the Red Sea on dry land, and they had seen the Egyptian army destroyed and the Israelites had seen the bodies of the Egyptians as they washed up upon the shores of the Red Sea. They had stopped to sing praises to the Lord before beginning their three day march to Marah, where they complained against Moses and Aaron when they drank of the bitter water of Marah. God had told Moses to throw a tree into the water and it became sweet so that two million people could drink and be satisfied. Also, there must have been enough water to sustain them as they journeyed on to Elim, the first place they found good water. There were twelve wells there, and seventy palm trees (Numbers 33:9). Interestingly, one well know Bible dictionary states clearly that it’s location is unknown, but explorers Bob Cornuke and Larry Williams, finding what they are sure is the real place where the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, had no problem finding either Marah or Elim. How did they find it? By reading the biblical account of the journey of the Israelites from the Red Sea. By the way, Cornuke and Williams did find twelve springs at Elim.

The Israelites were totally unprepared for the attack by Amalek. Apparently, no such attack was expected, and if so, certainly not this soon. They had gone through the whole spectrum of emotions, fear, discouragement, hope, hopelessness, joy, and weariness. They were, without a doubt, tired from walking several days, but after the Lord provided water, they may well have been encouraged as they looked ahead to the rest of the journey. Then came Amalek! When they least expected an attack, “Then came Amalek” (KJV).

D. Let Us Look at the Attack, Exodus 17:8.

“At Rephidim, Amalek came and fought against Israel.” (HCSB)

1. The attack was unprovoked.
2. The attack was intended to defeat Israel and take the spoils of war.
3. The attack would keep them from ever possessing their possessions in Canaan.
4. The attack was a surprise.
5. The attack was overpowering.
6. The attack was intended to wipe out Israel.
7. The attack failed because Yahweh delivered Israel.

When the attack came it was unexpected, but that does not mean that Moses was so naive that he did not expect to be attacked by some nations along the way, even though the Lord led him to avoid war with certain nations. Remember that the men who were able to serve in the military were found to number 600,000. They were numbered because they knew at some point they might have to go to war.

The Amalakites viciously attacked Israel, and I cannot help but believe that these distant kinsmen of Israel knew something of the promise God had made to Abraham. They may well have harbored an intense hatred for the descendants of Jacob (Israel) who had cheated their ancestor Esau out of his birthright, regardless of how lightly Esau had taken that blessing.

After hearing my long time friend, retired Lt. General Dutch Shoffner talk about our strategy and our tactics in Viet Nam I had to ask him to explain what, from a military stand point, is the difference between strategy and tactics. He explained that, tactically they won battle after battle in Viet Nam. However, the overall strategy was faulty and decisions in Washington often undermined their efforts. So, what was the strategy of Israel as they marched from Egypt toward Sinai? What were the tactics had they adopted? We may remember that communication in those days in the wilderness was not as good as it is today. They apparently had no advanced warning that Amalek was marching against them. Of course, that does not speak of the communication between Moses and the Lord!

What was Moses’ strategy? His strategy was Yahweh! The Israelites could not defeat the Amalakites on their own. The victory had to come from the Lord. Tactically speaking, there was no conflict between the strategy of Moses and that of his servant Joshua, the commander of the Israelite forces. The amazing thing here is that Joshua had no training in warfare, and no battle experience. Today, according to retired three star General Dutch Shoffner, American generals all receive continuous training. It was not enough for him to try to explain the difference between strategy and tactics to me, he gave me a copy of the book, The Art of War, written by an ancient Chinese general. After looking through the book, I wondered if he only gave me to book to humiliate me, or if I should thank him for such a high opinion of me! I believe General Shoffner had this book taught to his officers during the Cold War when he commanded the Third Infantry Division. “Ours is the first army in history to provide training for general officers,” he told me. He has one son who is a general and another who is a full colonel today. Before his promotion, Col. Allen Shoffner served for some time as the U. S. Army’s representative to Congress. He understands war.

Joshua never had the training, nor the experience General Shoffner and his sons have had. Both General Allen Shoffner and Col. Andy Shoffner have served three deployments in recent years in our war against terrorism. Andy sent me a flag that “flew in the face of the enemy in Iraq”, a certificate of certification for the flag, an 8 X 10 picture of Andy and some of his officers, and a personal letter thanking me for praying for him. He assured me that was the only reason he survived, remembering bullets that whistled by his head, and as a bomb went off under his vehicle. The picture showed weapons that would have wiped out the Amalekites before they could draws their swords.

During the conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, high ranking military officers visited General Shoffner to ask him for help with their strategy and tactics. There is a lot more that I will not repeat, but I am indebted to him for his willingness to teach me over and over about the military. I am sure Joshua would have benefitted from his wisdom, or that of his sons. But, the Lord was in charge of this battle, and He had His Own strategy.

E. Now, Let Us Look at the Battle.

(9) Moses said to Joshua, “Select some men for us and go fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the hilltop with God’s staff in my hand.”

“Joshua did as Moses had told him, and fought against Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. (11) While Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, but whenever he put his hand down, Amalek prevailed. (12) When Moses’ hands grew heavy, they took a stone and put ⌊it⌋ under him, and he sat down on it. Then Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other so that his hands remained steady until the sun went down. (13) So Joshua defeated Amalek and his army with the sword.

“The Lord then said to Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a reminder and recite it to Joshua: I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek under heaven.”

“And Moses built an altar and named it, “The Lord Is My Banner.” (16) He said, “Indeed, ⌊my⌋ hand is ⌊lifted up⌋ toward the Lord’s throne. The Lord will be at war with Amalek from generation to generation.” (Ex 17:8-16, HCSB)

1. Amalek attacked Israel at Rephidim.
2. Israel did not have a trained army.
3. Israel did have Moses, God’s chosen leader.
4. Israel also had Joshua, the commander and future commander-in-chief.
5. Moses held up his staff, as he did at the Red Sea when the waters departed.
6. When Moses held up his staff Israel prevailed.
7. When the staff was lowered Amalek prevailed.
8. Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands and Joshua won the battle.
9. God announced that there would be war with Amalek from generation to generation.
10. God promised that he would ultimately destroy Amalek.


A. Only Christians Can Learn Some of These Lessons.

I have mentioned Major Ian Thomas who understood what it meant for God to give an army the victory over what seemed to be impossible odds. He was not only a Major in the British Army, he was governor of the Island of Malta during WW II. Malta could not produce anything the needed to survive, clothing, shoes, food, or medicine. With Italy within striking distance and Germany not too far away, they could only pray that supply ships would reach them. And pray they did! The Lord gave them the victory.

The same God delivered Israel from Egypt, not for them to wander in the wilderness for forty years, but so they would go forward and conquer the Land of Canaan. I believe the way he put it at one point was, “He brought them out to take the in.” He brought them out of Egypt to take them into the Canaan, the Land of Promise. The Lord delivered the Israelites from Egypt by His mighty hand, but He did not deliver them from Egypt for them to flounder in the wilderness for the rest of their lives. They had an appointment with the Lord at Sinai, but after that they were told to march on to Canaan where they would possess their possessions in a land flowing with milk and honey. No more manna!

When the days at Sinai were complete, the Scripture tells us,“The Lord our God spoke to us at Horeb: ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough. (7) Resume your journey...” (Deut 1:6-7).
This is what God wanted, but what Amalek was determined to prevent. Paul explains the principle in Galatians:

“I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. (17) For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. (18) But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Gal 5:16-18).

Major Thomas wrote:

“Amalek presents us with a most fascinating study, and illustrates the relentless consistency of the Holy Spirit in the language which He uses in His revelations of truth throughout the whole Bible. He may use several types or symbols to illustrate the same spiritual principle, but such types or symbols as He may choose, He will use them with complete consistency throughout the whole of Scripture.

“This is one of the most remarkable evidences of the miraculous inspiration of the Bible. You will discover that the Bible will come to life in a new way, and the Old Testament in particular will become very much richer, a Book charged with spiritual significance, if you will allow the Holy Spirit to teach you the meaning of the language that He uses.” (Thomas, Ian, THE SAVING LIFE OF CHRIST, p. 79). [Bold added by this writer]

In recent days I heard of one pastor who sees no reason to preach from the Old Testament, or even to read it and obey the commandments found in it. Then, there is the pastor who has announced that he will begin preaching only from the Old Testament. The first attitude is disturbing, and both he and his people are being deprived of eternal truth. The second sounds like a cult! How can you call yourself a Christian if you reject the Savior who is revealed in the Four Gospels? Jesus quoted often from the Old Testament Scriptures and when Paul wrote to Timothy about the inspiration of the Scripture, there is not doubt that he had the Old Testament in mind.

We must remember that as long as the Israelites were in Egypt, Amalek never attacked them. As long as Israel was in Egypt the were dead to the nations of the world, but as soon as the Israelites were free of Egyptian control the enemy attacked. Ian Thomas saw some great spiritual lessons for us in this account from Exodus. To him, Egypt represented death and compared it to the condition of a lost person who is a dead in sin, a slave to sin and to Satan. Israel could no more deliver herself from Egypt than a lost person can deliver himself or herself from spiritual death. It took a miracle from God to deliver Israel, just as it takes a miracle from God to save a lost person. Israel could take absolutely no credit for her deliverance from Egypt and you and I can take absolutely no credit for our deliverance from spiritual death and the satanic forces the would prevent out deliverance. People may mean well when they say, “I found God,” or, “I found Jesus,” but the simple truth is that no one has ever “found” God. We are drawn to God by divine revelation, as God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, reveals Himself and His provision for our salvation within us, before us, and through the inspired Word.

B. Amalek Is Subtle, Simple, and Often Successful.

Amalek never tries to pull people out of Egypt. Satan wants to see the spiritually dead person stay right where he is. However, if that person is delivered by the grace of God from slavery and death you can count on Satan to send Amalek to try to desroy him or her. An open attack is a frightful thing, but those who are wandering around in the wilderness of the flesh may go to Sunday School, sing in the choir, and minister to those who are suffering, but they may also complain, criticize, and gossip about others. I would like to think about a few ways in which Amalek may ambush Christians.

1. A pastor moves to new church and at the first business meeting discovers a person who is determined to have his way, no matter whose feelings he hurts. Then came Amalek!

2. Jim and Susie planned their wedding for months, spent fortune on it - and have the pictures to prove that theirs was the most beautiful wedding any of their friends had ever seen. Then they return from the honeymoon and the bills start coming in. They had prepared for the wedding but thought the marriage would take care of itself. He says, “If you buy that dress I am going to buy another shotgun!” Then came Amalek! When I was a youth minister I asked Dr. H. R. Herrington, my pastor, “When a couple comes to you for counseling, what is the number one problem you have to deal with in counseling with them?” It wasn’t what we studied in counseling classes! He said, “Someone has bought something and they can’t pay for it.”

3. I moved to a church in Texas when I was around 35 years old. I was excited and busy working on plans. Then came Amalek! I had a sprained foot and my secretary offered to call their foot specialist for and appointment and I asked her to go ahead and do it. Two foot specialists all but totaled me out. Before long, both feet were sprained from the supports and the bottom of my feet felt like they were on fire. It seemed that the more I prayed the worse it got. I would go to bed at night and plead with the Lord to let me see a little progress in one toe (no joke). I would quote Scripture to the Lord about the fervent prayers of a righteous man.... I would think, “I am praying as fervently as I know how!” And they got worse.

The church I had served in Bastrop heard about what had happened to me and one deacon said, “He stood by us when we were down, maybe the Lord wants us to stand by him now.” Once I got over the shock the Lord revealed to my wife and me on the same day in two different places that it was His will for us to return. Little did I realize that I would be sitting on a bar stool to preach for the next twenty-five years. Amalek kept popping up but the Lord was protecting me. Then, one Sunday I stood to preach and I have been standing ever since.

4. A new business opens in town, complete with Ads in the local paper and on local television stations. You see the vans with the name of the business on the side. They have a web site. Owners speak at social and civic clubs. Then one day you drive by and see that the business is closed. You read in the newspaper that the owners have declared bankruptcy. Then came Amalek!

5. A young family tried a new work after the plant closed and the husband lost his business. The family worked long hours and took very little time off. They were a hard working couple. Then one day someone came to the door to announce that they were putting up a foreclosure sign on their house. Then came Amalek!

6. A good friend who was pastor of one church for more than thirty years once told me that when you lose one active family you will have to reach three families to replace the one you lost. He added that the reason was that of the three new families only one would be active. Then came Amalek!


I would like to quote Major Ian Thomas once again:

“The devil does not mind whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, whether you succeed or whether you fail in the energy of the flesh, whether you are filled with self-pity or self praise, for he knows that in both cases you will be preoccupied with yourself, and not with Christ. You will be “ego-centric” and not “Deo-centric” - God centered.”

“So Satan will seek to persuade you that “walking in the Spirit” is simply the consequence of your pious endeavor not to fulfill the “lusts of the flesh,” of which he himself is the author, and thus by subtly confusing the means for the end, he will rob you of what he knows to be you only possibility of victory.” [Thomas, Ian, p. 82]

Are you following this? Good! Because there is more:

“Is that not what you have been trying to do? You have been trying not to fulfill the lusts of the flesh, in order to walk in the Spirit - fighting a battle that is already lost. What God has said to you is this, ‘Walk in the Spirit,’ in an attitude of total dependence upon Him, exposing everything to Him, ‘and you will not fulfill the lusts of the flesh’ - for you will then be enjoying through Him the victory that has already been won. To walk in the Spirit is not a reward - it is a means! It is enjoy the Saving Life of Christ.’

“As you take every step in an attitude of total dependence upon the Lord Jesus Christ who indwells you by His Spirit, He celebrates in you the victory He has already won over sin and death and Satan. As Moses held his hand high - a picture of the appropriation by faith of God-given victory - Joshua prevailed, and -

“So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-IS-MY-BANNER; for he said, "Because the LORD has sworn: the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." [Ex 17:13-16, NKJV]
“There will never come a day when God will be at peace with Amalek!”
[Thomas, Major Ian, The Saving Life of Christ, pp. 82-83]

When you least expect him Amalek will put in an appearance. He loves to show up at revivals, Vacation Bible School, and on youth trips. He loves to start a whisper campaign in the local church. He will attack the pastor, deacons, minister of music, or a nursery worker. The thing we must do is pray that the Lord will help us recognize Amalek when he shows up, whether in our home, business, social group, or at church. And he will show up! We must remember that the Lord wants to deliver lost souls from death and from slavery to sin and its consequences. He tells us that we must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to receive everlasting life. Then Amalek shows up and plants the thought, “How do you know you really were saved?” Or, “You had better be careful or you will lose your salvation.”

Satan sends Amalek to whisper that you should be in church every Sunday, unless you have something more important to do! He does not wave evil before us, he simply shows us good things, things we love, things we wouldn’t dare miss, especially if our friends are going there and doing that. Little league, soccer, hunting, fishing, shopping. Amalek does not normally encourage Christians to miss church to go to a bar or a cassino. He shows us something that seems good, and just to prove it, he will have other church members there to greet you.

Amalek is Satan’s messenger sent to distract you from worship, Bible study, prayer, witnessing, and ministering to those with special needs. He cannot send us back to Egypt, but he cans distract us and keep us out of Canaan where the Lord wants us to live, where He promises to bless us and care for us. Furthermore, if you are in the wilderness, living in the flesh, you cannot simply move into Canaan and possess your possessions at will. It takes the mighty hand of God to move you from the wilderness into Canaan. You can, however, slip back out of Canaan into the wilderness. All you have to do is take your eyes off the Lord.

How do I live as the Lord wants me to live? The Lord wants every person to believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, in order to have eternal life. The devil will whisper, “That’s too simple, there must be more to it than that.” The Lord has one message: “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Romans 10:13). When you are saved the Lord places His Holy Spirit in you to sanctify you, to guide you, encourage you, strengthen you, and convict you when you sin. The heart that is filled with the Holy Spirit has no room for the flesh, but all we have to do is take our eyes off the Lord, our mind off the Word of God, and our focus off the Holy Spirit, and we become a target for Amalek, for Satan, for the wilderness, which offers no hope, no joy, no victory.

James wrote, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you...” (James 4:8). Trust in the Lord and He will bless you and protect you. Take your eyes off the Lord and the enemy will have a field day with you. What will it be? Amalek is waiting to catch you with your guard down. The Holy Spirit is watching over you and He is more powerful than any enemy. You can trust yourself to Him.