Thursday after Sexagesima
Scripture: Exodus 17:1-16 (NKJV)
1 Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, “Give us water, that we may drink.”
So Moses said to them, “Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord?”
3 And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, “Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”
4 So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!”
5 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go. 6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.”
And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
8 Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. 9 And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.” 10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. 13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
14 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.” 15 And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner; 16 for he said, “Because the Lord has sworn: the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
Amalek is the grandson of Esau, great-grandson of Isaac. The Amalekites would have been a branch of the Edomites, who are descendants of Esau. How very different are the histories of the descendants of Jacob and the descendants of Esau. One line lives in the promise of God. One line drifts away from God. But God says, “I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.” God will utterly destroy the Amalekites in genocidal wrath.
Is this our God of love? We need to come to grips with the fact that our God is a destroyer, a bringer of wrath even against the women and children, the cattle, the sheep and all life. It is proper to fear God. He has destroyed for the seemingly smallest of infractions, the wrong incense, cheating a little on one’s pledge of support. Many in our day say they cannot believe in such a God. How do we answer the charge that our God is a genocidal maniac?
“God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son.” We still worship the God of the Old Testament, but now He has turned His wrath on Himself. We have come “to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.”
We pray: Oh Lord God, heavenly Father, let us truly fear You so that we may know how blessed we are to be the recipients of Your Gospel. May we always walk in the knowledge of Your fierce wrath, and in the knowledge of our freedom from it, in the Name of Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.