The Christian's Battle
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the book of Exodus, chapter 17. We will read from verse 8:

Exodus 17

8Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
9And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
10So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
14And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
15And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi:
16For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

If we were studying the Word of God from the standpoint of history, we could simply say that we have read a historical acount of the first battle which the Israelites fought after they left the land of Egypt. It would be interesting from a number of different standpoints. But you will remember when we began our study of the wilderness wanderings of the children of Israel after their deliverance from Egypt, we found in chapter 10 of I Corinthians that all the things which occurred in connection with the nation of Israel and their deliverance were related to types, with spiritual lessons for us in this particular age, this particular dispensation. Paul said that these are for types for those of us upon whom the end of the age are come (I Corinthians 10:11).

We are certainly living in the end of the age, and these are more than historical events. So it would behoove us to think about this not as a purely historical truth; but if we are to understand the illustration, we will have to have all the historical facts right, as the Holy Spirit has carefully recorded them.

The Descendants of Esau

The first thing I would like for us to do is to examine the first name that is brought to our attention other than that of the Israelites–namely, Amalek. Notice verse 8:

Exodus 17

8Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.

Who is Amalek? Who are the Amalekites? Let us glance hurriedly through the Word of God for what it has to say about Amalek and his descendants. If we understand who they are and what they stand for, we will be better able to understand the lesson God has for us.

Turn, please, to the book of Genesis, chapter 36, verse 9, where we have the first mention of Amalek. The land was not known as the land of the Amalekites until long after the first mention of Amalek in the Word.

Genesis 36

9And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir:
10These are the names of Esau's sons; Eliphaz the son of Adah the wife of Esau, Reuel the son of Bashemath the wife of Esau.
11And the sons of Eliphaz were Teman, Omar, Zepho, and Gatam, and Kenaz.
12And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Esau's son; and she bare to Eliphaz Amalek: these were the sons of Adah Esau's wife.

You will notice in verse 12 the definite statement that Amalek was the son of Eliphaz and a concubine, and Amalek was the grandson of Esau. You may be saying, “What difference does that make? What does it matter?” Do you remember who Esau was? Esau was the brother of Jacob; he was another son of Isaac. Turn, please, to the book of Hebrews, chapter 12, verse 14, that you may have God's evaluation of Esau. God's evaluation of Esau and his descendants is what lends spiritual significance to the historical incident at which we are looking.

Hebrews 12

14Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
15Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
16Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
17For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Notice in verse 16 the statement that as far as God was concerned, Esau was a profane person–a person who, as the subsequent verses indicate, was more interested in fleshly things than he was in spiritual things. Keep that in mind; we will notice its significance as we go farther along in our discussion.

Enmity Between Amalekites and Israelites

I want us to notice some other facts revealed to us in the Word of God concerning the Amalekites as a type of the flesh. Notice the accuracy of the facts as God reveals them. Go with me to the book of Numbers, chapter 24, verse 20. Balaam was making a prophecy concerning Israel, all her blessings and all her enemies:

Numbers 24

20And when he looked on Amalek, he took up his parable, and said, Amalek was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever.

Were we to read this verse in its context, we would find that when Balaam said that Amalek was the first of all the nations, he did not mean that Amalek was the most important nation in the world; he meant, according to the context, that Amalek was the first nation to make war on the children of Israel.

Turn, please, to the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 25, and notice the statement that Moses made about Amalek and his attitude toward the nation of Israel; the Israelites must never forget it:

Deuteronomy 25

17Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt;
18How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God.
19Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.

In this paragraph, attention was called by Moses to the fact that Amalek, or the Amalekites, attacked the children of Israel who were weak and weary and faint–those who were trailing behind the main body of people. If you will go again to Exodus, chapter 17, you will notice one or two facts about the Amalekites:

Exodus 17

16For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

Here is a definite statement that there would be continued warfare with Amalek. It would go on from generation to generation. Notice in verse 14, however, that this war, though it would go on from generation to generation, would eventually be brought to an end:

Exodus 17

14And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.

These are basic references to Amalek and the Amalekites. There are one or two others that I would like for you to notice, but we pause here to emphasize that they are related to individuals.

Saul's Incomplete Obedience

Turn, please, to the first book of Samuel, chapter 15, verse 3, where Samuel was commissioned by God to smite the Amalekites and utterly destroy them:

I Samuel 15

3Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

We see in verse 8 that Saul did not completely obey this order from God:

I Samuel 15

8And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword.
9But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly.

This incomplete obedience of Saul resulted in some very sad things. Because Saul failed to destroy the Amalekites utterly, the Amalekites eventually brought about his own destruction. Turn, please, to the second book of Samuel and notice in chapter 1 the story of how that occurred. The story is told of a young man who came back and reported to David the manner in which Saul died. This young man told David that Saul had fallen upon his spear with the intent of committing suicide, but he had botched the job; it was not a thorough job, and he lay there bleeding to death. This young man came along and Saul begged him to kill him so that he would not fall into the hands of his enemies. The young man complied with the request. Notice in verse 8 the conversation that was carried on between Saul and the young man:

II Samuel 1

8And he said unto me, Who art thou? And I answered him, I am an Amalekite.
9He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me.
10So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he had fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord.

So Saul's failure to win the victory over the Amalekites resulted in his eventual destruction. When you have time, read the book of Esther and you will come in contact with a man by the name of Haman, who created a tremendous problem for the Jews and almost succeeded in destroying them. Haman was a direct descendent of the Agag, whom Saul had failed to slay. You see the emphasis in the Word of God on the fact that it was an absolute necessity to have victory over the Amalekites, or trouble would be the natural result.

Enmity Between the Flesh and the Spirit

What is the lesson that we should learn from these historical facts? Let us go back to chapter 17 of Exodus and notice the very first word in the paragraph. It is the word “then”: “Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.” When was it that Amalek came to fight with Israel? It was after–notice carefully what I am saying–they had been delivered from the land of Egypt, which is typical of our salvation, and after they had partaken of the water from the smitten rock, which we have learned is typical of the coming of the Holy Spirit to take up His dwelling place in the life of a believer.

Are you following me? The important lesson is simply this: Just as the Israelites had no trouble with Amalek until after they were delivered from Egypt and had drunk of the rock that followed them (I Corinthians 10:4), you and I have no trouble with the flesh until after we have been born again and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Haven't you been troubled by a great many more things since you came to know the Lord than you were before you came to know the Lord? Haven't you been faced with more temptations, more problems, more difficult times since you decided to live for the Lord than you were before? That is what Paul is talking about in Galatians, chapter 5, verse 16:

Galatians 5

16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Notice verse 17 particularly: “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” This verse is talking about a born-again believer. It is talking about a born-again Christian in whom a continual struggle is going on between the flesh on the one hand and the Spirit on the other. Why is that? Because the individual in Galatians, chapter 5, verse 17, has been born again.

Before you came to know the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you had a carnal nature; it was a fleshly nature, and you did whatever the flesh told you to do. You may not like to admit that, but it is true. You walked according to the course of this world, according to the direction of the Devil, and that was all you ever considered doing. Some of you–I think all of us, to a greater or lesser degree–were so obedient to the flesh that we were not conscious of the rulership of the flesh. Things ran smoothly; there was no struggle of any description. Then you were born again, and the moment you were born again, the Holy Spirit took up His residence within you, and the old occupant that had been there from the day you were born did not like it. The moment the Holy Spirit took up residence within you, He began to crowd the flesh into a corner, so to speak. The Holy Spirit began to struggle, immediately began to contend. In verse 17, we read the spiritual description of the struggle:

Galatians 5

17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Go back to our original story. The Israelites had no trouble with the Amalekites until after they had left Egypt and had drunk of the spiritual rock that followed them, the rock being Christ. You and I will have no trouble with the flesh until after we are born again and the Holy Spirit takes up His residence in our hearts. Then the trouble really begins. The flesh has to be dealt with, just as certainly as the Amalekites had to be dealt with.

The Way of Victory

Someone might say, “Oh, that's true, but all you have to do is to get rid of the flesh and then everything will be all right.” There are a lot of people who teach that they can get rid of the flesh. They teach that it can be done. There is only one thing wrong with that; the Bible doesn't teach that. Just as certainly as in verse 16 of chapter 17 of the book of Exodus God said that there would be war with Amalek from generation to generation, you can expect to have a struggle with the flesh from one day to the next. The only time the remembrance of Amalek was to be put out from under heaven was when all was well and settled at the end of their journey. You can be sure that the only time you will be free of the flesh is when the Lord Jesus Christ comes and we have changed this vile body for the glorious body that He has prepared for us (Philippians 3:21), or when we die and this corruption puts on incorruption (I Corinthians 10:54). Then, and only then, will the remembrance of Amalek be blotted out. Then, and only then, will the flesh be forgotten.

I want us to remember that, because there are multitudes of God's children today who are living a life of constant defeat because they have not realized who Amalek is and what God says about him in the Word. You say, “You mean you don't have to live a life of constant defeat?” No, you don't. There is a way of victory, and that way of victory is illustrated in our story. Notice verse 9 of Exodus, chapter 17:

Exodus 17

9And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.

Moses said, “There are two ways to deal with Amalek. One way, Joshua, is that you are to go out and fight Amalek with the sword. I will go up on the mountain top with the rod of God in my hand. In those two ways, we will get the victory over Amalek.” I would like to say as we draw the spiritual parallel that those are the two ways in which you and I are privileged to have victory over the flesh. If we can understand what happened, we will be able to understand its spiritual counterpart.

This is the first time the Israelites are found fighting; it is the first time they are told to fight. Remember when we read in chapter 14 of the book of Exodus, verse 14? The Egyptians were behind them, the Red Sea was before them, and the mountains on either side. They did not know what to do. Did God say, “Go out and fight.”? No, that is not what He said. He said, “Stand still; the Lord will fight for you.” Do you know why? Because their deliverance was God's business, just as our salvation is God's business.

Victory By the Sword of the Spirit

Just as God purchased and completely paid for our salvation and we cannot add one bit to it, so God delivered the children of Israel from the land of Egypt. But after their deliverance from Egypt and their encounter with Amalek, it was necessary that they do something. They could not just sit down and say, “Everything is going to be all right. God fought for us once, He will fight for us again.” That was not true. There is a time when the children of God must recognize that they are in a battle.

Turn with me, please, to the book of Ephesians, chapter 6, and notice in verse 12 a reference to what I have just said:

Ephesians 6

12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
13Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

The various portions of the armor are presented to us, but we are not interested in them at the moment, for this particular battle. But in verse 17 we have one weapon brought to our attention, and we are interested in it:

Ephesians 6

17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

Now, go back to Exodus, chapter 17, and remember that Moses said to Joshua, “Go out and fight against Amalek.” In verse 13, we find the manner in which Joshua fought against Amalek:

Exodus 17

13And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

If you and I are to gain victory over the flesh, which is ever with us, if we are to gain victory over our Amalek, it will be necessary for us to take the sword which God has given to us and discomfit Amalek with the sword. That is why, in chapter 4 of the book of James, we are told that we should resist the Devil, and he will flee from us. You say, “What has the Devil to do with the flesh?” The Devil, Beloved, would have no power over you were it not for the flesh. The Devil appeals to the flesh, and the flesh responds to the Devil, and that is what creates the problems in your life. If you will learn to discomfit Amalek with the sword, which is the Word of God, if you will learn to resist, then there can be victory.

The Importance of Prayer

But did you notice that even though Joshua was doing a good job with the sword, he was not always victorious. In verse 11, we read:

Exodus 17

11And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

We are interested in the two statements that there was a time when Israel prevailed and there was a time when Amalek prevailed. We draw the spiritual parallel: There is a time when the Spirit of God is victorious in our lives, and there is a time when the flesh is victorious in our lives. Keep in mind that the Spirit is contending with the flesh and the flesh with the Spirit.

There have been times–we have all had such times–when the Spirit of God has been victorious. When the Spirit of God is victorious, we rejoice; we are on the mountain top; we are singing praises all the time; everything is wonderful. But when the flesh is victorious, we are discouraged; we are distressed; we are down in the dumps; we feel like giving up. Yet we have used the sword; we have used the Word of God. What is the trouble?

Listen carefully to what I am saying. I say this reverently, so don't jump to conclusions. Your use of the Word of God is not enough; it is not enough within itself. It was not enough for Joshua to be in the valley with the sword. It was necessary for Moses to be on the mountaintop with the rod. What is represented by that? Before we look at the significance of the rod, let us see how Moses acted with the rod on the top of the mountain:

Exodus 17

11And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

These verses taken together indicate that Moses stood there on the mountain top with his hands stretched up towards the heavens, with the rod clutched in both hands. As long as he held up his hands like that, there was victory; Israel prevailed. But when his hands went down, Amalek prevailed.

What is the significance of those uplifted hands? Therein lies the secret of victory. Turn, please, to Psalm 28, and notice the significance of uplifted hands in the Word of God:

Psalm 28

1Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.
2Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.

What was David doing when he lifted up his hands towards God's holy oracle? He was praying, was he not? The first mention of uplifted hands in the Bible is symbolic of intercession, and were you to follow it in the Word, you would find that this is consistently so. In the last mention of uplifted hands, we find the type still true. This is in Paul's first letter to Timothy, chapter 2, verse 8:

I Timothy 2

8I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

“…lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” What are uplifted hands? Uplifted hands are symbolic of intercession. As we go back to Exodus, chapter 17, I would remind you that if we are to gain victory over the flesh, it is necessary for us to be equipped not only with the sword, but with the Word of God, whereby we must discomfit Amalek. It is necessary for us to have a ministry of intercession.

Intercession to Be Cooperative

It gets hard to pray sometimes, doesn't it? We get weary. Did you notice–I think it is significant–that there is no record that Joshua got weary wielding the sword, but Moses got weary holding up his hands? I think that is significant. If you haven't already learned, you need to learn that it is much easier to preach than it is to pray. It is much easier to witness than it is to pray. It is easier to do anything that you can name than it is to pray. That is why the Lord Jesus Christ Himself said, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). He did not say, “Men ought always to read the Bible and not to faint.”

The Lord Jesus Himself knew how weary one could become in intercession. Herein lies a very beautiful lesson: To be effective, intercession must be cooperative. It is impossible for you to do all the praying that you need for yourself; you need help.

Thank God for the heavenly help we have. It is not represented in our story, but I mention it because we are grateful for it. We are told in the Word of God that there are two helpers in our intercession. Turn with me, please, to the book of Romans, chapter 8, verse 26:

Romans 8

26Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself [ Himself ] maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

Thank God for that! The Holy Spirit is helping our intercession every moment. We don't always know what to pray for, but the Holy Spirit is making intercession. Glance at verse 34:

Romans 8

34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Isn't that wonderful? The Holy Spirit within us is praying for us; the Lord Jesus Christ above us is praying for us! How could we be any less than victorious? Thank God for these heavenly helpers!

Going back to Exodus, chapter 17, I want to call to your attention two other helpers who were not of a heavenly nature. They were human. In verse 12 we read:

Exodus 17

12But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

Aaron and Hur–this is the only time Hur is mentioned, but my, what a tremendous thing is said about him. He enabled the Israelites to be victorious, not because he prayed himself, not because he had a place of leadership, but because he got hold of the arm of Moses and held it up that victory might be accomplished.

The ministry of intercession for many of you may be just as unimportant in the eyes of the world as was the ministry of Hur, but in the sight of God it will be exactly that important. Have you ever stopped to think what would have happened if Moses' arms had not been held up? Have you ever stopped to think about it? Well, if we are to believe what is in the Word of God, the Amalekites would have prevailed; it would have been the end for the Israelites, because when his arms were down the Amalekites were victorious and when his arms were up the Israelites were victorious. If his arms had not stayed up, there could have been no victory. When all the rewards are read out in eternity, I am quite sure that Hur especially will be noticed in a special way because he held up Moses' arms.

Do you want a job–one that is effective, one that can accomplish something? Then learn to be a Hur for God; learn to hold up someone's arms in prayer and see what a tremendous thing can happen in lives as a result.

Practical Aspect of Intercession

Turn with me, please, to II Corinthians, chapter 1. I leave this one thought with you that you may see that what I am suggesting is a practical thing.

II Corinthians 1

8For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:

This sounds as if Paul had come to the end of the rope, doesn't it? It sounds, in the terms of our story, as if his arms had gotten tired. But notice what he said in verse 9:

II Corinthians 1

9But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead:
10Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us;

That is not the end of the sentence. It could be; he could have said, “God has delivered us from so great a death; He doth deliver, and we trust He will yet deliver us.” That could have been the end of the story, but it was not. Notice what he said before the sentence was finished:

II Corinthians 1

11Ye also helping together in prayer for us, that for the gift bestowed upon us by the means of many persons thanks may be given by many on our behalf.

Helping together in prayer! That is real intercession, and it is a real ministry if you are interested in carrying it on.


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