What follows is a powerful lesson from Israel’s history. The children of Israel had, by the blood of the Passover Lamb, come out of 430 years of slavery in Egypt. The Afro-American citizens of America can relate to this as no other people can. They are still slowly but surely coming out.
Hundreds of thousands of Israelites were approaching that very harsh, mountainous, wilderness area called Sinai. With that many people, there are always stragglers lagging behind, such as children, older folks, and the slower ones. Suddenly, out of the hills of the Sinai came desert terrorists known as the Amalekites. If you will, Amalek and his Ites. Amalek was the Osama Bin Laden of the Sinai. These terrorists did not attack the main body of the Israelites. They jumped on the halting, the weary, and the helpless young and old who brought up the rear. (Deuteronomy 25:18.)
The Amalekites were the first nation to attack Israel after they had come out of a long nightmare in Egypt. (Number 24:20) The Amalekites may have been the first of the “Ites,” but they certainly would not be the last. The Bible is full of “Ites.“ Israel was soon to come down with a lingering case of “Ite-ism.” Facing them would be the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, all of whom you can read about today on the Websites. Not exactly household names!
Of course, Americans until recently had not heard all that much about the Al Qaedites and the Talibanites either. Suddenly, viciously, and all without warning, America found herself in Bible times. As a friend of Israel, she attracted enemies the likes of which she had never seen before in the continental United States. The Amalekites came down upon the Israelites from the hills of the Sinai wilderness. The Al Qaedites came down upon Americans from the skies. Anti-terrorism has become today Israel’s and America’s mutual and constant vigil.
Warfare became a way of life or death for the Old Testament children of God from that time on. It is actually no different for the New Testament children of God, though we don’t war against flesh and blood, but against Satan and his demonic forces.The similarities between God’s Old Testament warriors and His New Testament warriors break down rather glaringly, for the children of Israel didn’t spend most of their warfare sitting before cable TV drinking Diet Coke.
All the more alarming for us modern warriors, because while the Israelites then fought “a devil” named Amalek, we have to daily fight “The Devil” name Satan. Of course so many parents today, even religious ones, have no concept of spiritual warfare for themselves or their children, but only think in terms of their children’s pedestrian safety, guarding them from dangerous strangers, and making sure that they stay away from sugar overload.
A SCORE TO SETTLE
These wilderness terrorists, the Amalekites, were not only nasty, but were on top of their nastiness this day, for they downright hated the Israelites with an undying passion. If you had to assign them a personal charm, attitude, and behavior rating, such as E, E, or EEE, the triple EEE rating would be the closest to the truth.
The world was now suddenly and savagely being redefined for Israel. Amalek was not just your average terrorist. The problem was that Amalek and his “Ites” had descended from Jacob’s (Israel) hairy brother Esau. To be exact, Amalek was Esau’s grandson. Grandpa Esau had been hoodwinked out of his father’s birthright and blessing by his brother Jacob (Israel). That would have great consequences for the descendants of Esau in terms of wealth and land. The descendants of Esau never forgot it, and they hated Israel (formerly Jacob).
That is why they attacked the Israelites in what appeared to be a wanton and unprovoked act of terrorism. It wasn’t unprovoked! For Amalek, it was payback to Uncle Jacob whose name had become the infamous Israel. For the late Osama Bin Laden and the Al Qaedites, 9/11 was a payback for America’s support of Israel and their bloody history with the Palestinians. Ole Osama held America responsible for the death of every Palestinian child that had perished in the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. Bin Laden viewed America as nothing more than a sword in Israel’s hands against Islam. That is why America was called by Bin Laden, “The Head Of All Evil,” which head Bin Laden dreamed about cutting off. He lost his own first!
It was really a family feud that had continued down through the generations, and in fact has never stopped. We are still living through it today in the ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelites. You would not then and you do not now ever see a Palestinian and an Israelite looking at each other with a kind smile on their lips. There has never been and never will be any love lost between the two, for that love was lost long ago in a brother’s scam.
JOSHUA’S DELTA FORCE – HARDLY
Moses, the God-ordained leader of God’s people, told his next-in-command, Joshua, to handpick a fighting force who would go out and fight these wild warriors of Amalek. (Exodus 17:9) Boy Moses, you better pick some top-of-the-line warriors, because there is no second place trophy in war, only winners and losers. They would be responsible for the protection of their wives and children, as well as the entire camp. It was a very dismal prospect, for from all appearances it was nothing short of weakness against strength, wearied former captives versus seasoned and cunning terrorists.
Like Al Qaeda, the Amalekites were a fierce people. So Moses commissioned Joshua to choose men to go and fight the Amalekites. Joshua did as he was commanded. (Exodus 17:9-10) It was a very grim picture for Joshua, for his hand-picked men were not exactly a “Special Operations Unit,” or a “Delta Force.” In fact, they were former slaves who had no fighting experience, and frankly, from a military standpoint, were bungling would-be warriors. They lacked every conceivable skill of warfare. After all, what could a company of former slaves and bricklayers do against these terrorists? They were far more adept at holding trowels than they were at wielding swords. The inequality of the encounter could not be overstated.
Moses commissioned Joshua to lead his “Elite Company” into battle. They bid farewell to their families no doubt with the same lack of skill and yet with the same great determination like the sons of the North and the South in the days of the Civil War. I have often wondered what General Joshua said to his troops in his debriefing of the situation. He didn’t have much time, for the enemy was already breathing down their necks and attacking from their rear. The enemy’s tactics tells us a whole lot about them, as they pounced like wild beasts on the infirmed, the aged, and the kids. We are dealing here with savages.
MOSES WAR STAFF
Then Moses did something remarkable, because he knew about something supernaturally invincible. Moses, along with Aaron his brother and Hur their companion, went up to the top of a hill. (Exodus 17:10) Moses was carrying in his hands something of paramount significance in Israel’s deliverance from and victory over Pharaoh and the Egyptians. It was his “War Staff.” No, no, Moses’ “War Staff“ was not Moses’ select group of Colonels and Lieutenants who had keen military minds. This was not a strategizing “War Room Staff Meeting.” There was no time even if Moses had such a company of battle-wise counselors. But then again, where would he find such military experts amongst ex-brick makers?
Okay then, what was this “Staff?” This staff was not for show. It was not just some little ritualistic, religious accoutrement or accessory. Nor was it an ancient magic wand. This was “God’s Omnipotent Power Staff” that He had commanded Moses to carry and lift up over Egypt in the execution of the plagues that God was to bring upon the Egyptian slave-master, Pharaoh, and all his slave-drivers. We read in Exodus 4:17,
“And you shall take in your hands this staff, with which you
shall perform the signs.”
That was by no means the end of it! That staff which he had carried and lifted up when the Nile River was bloodied (Exodus 7:14-25), was the same one he lifted up when the Red Sea was split in two with a highway down the middle (Exodus 17:15-22). Moses had learned the lesson of the staff over and over again. It had worked wonders, countermanded nature by turning the Nile River into Blood River, and opening up the Red Sea like a door to welcome freed Jewish captives, while it also dug a grave to swallow and drown the Egyptians.
The “Staff of the Lord” was by no means a back-page mention or footnote in God’s scrupulously detailed and complete sacred storybook of history. It wasn’t Moses’ staff or doing ever. Moses knew that it was the POWER STAFF OF GOD and not his own power staff.
Everyone seems to have their own set of misconceptions about supernatural endowments like these, but Moses had not misconceived the staff, and neither may we. We come into this world totally dependent upon the Lord, and we leave this world totally dependent upon the Lord. We entered the world completely weak in ourselves, and we leave the world totally weak in ourselves. We were born in and of ourselves totally inadequate, and we die in and of ourselves totally inadequate. Got it? Jesus said in John 15:5,
“Apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Now then, visualize Moses on that hill, as he lifts up his arms to the heavens while holding the “Lord’s Staff” in his hand. It was really quite a sight, especially if you were Joshua and his slaves turned fighters. They could see their leader Moses, lifting up his staffed arms and hands to God, silhouetted against the sky on top of that hill. It all would make quite a painting to be hung in the prayer sanctuary of the church! More on that later.
THE UPS AND DOWNS OF WARFARE
The Bible tells us that a military, none-military miracle of stupendous proportions took place. But then again, why not, it would be another “SENSATIONAL STAFF MIRACLE” from God. The Lord’s Staff was loaded with supernatural signs and wonders, for God had said to Moses,
“And you shall take the staff in your hands, with which you
shall perform the signs.”
Moses lifted up his arms to God with the “Lord’s Staff” in his hands, and he kept them up. Joshua and his novices then mightily prevailed over the Amalekites as if they were the most experienced and invincible fighting force on earth. However, when Moses tried to keep his arms up all day long as the battle continued, his arms grew weary and began to lower away from heaven and down towards earth. When that happened, the Amalekites made Joshua and his men look like the bumpkins they really were and prevailed over them.
We read in Exodus 17:11,
“So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed,
and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.”
If you will, it wasn’t really the staff at all, but the direction in which it was pointed. When it was pointed up to God, it was a potent staff, but when it was pointed at man, it was totally impotent. Let the record show God’s omnipotency and man’s impotency.
America more and more over the last several years has come to rely upon her military might, and not upon Almighty God. Moses in Exodus 17:9 said that he would hold the staff of God up to God in His hand. The name “God” in Exodus 17:9, in the Hebrew language is Elohim. To illustrate the power connected with Elohim, be mindful that this is the same Elohim that we hear about in the beginning of time when we read in Genesis 1:3,
“Then Elohim said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”
Elohim, the omnipotent Creator of all, is so powerful, that He just speaks and it is so. Later on in the first chapter of Genesis, we read that,
“He made the stars ALSO.”
Like He threw the stars in for good measure. As when you pack your suitcase, and you throw in a few extra socks as well. Get this good and firm in our heads, that while we may throw socks around, God throws stars around. We call them shooting stars. No, stars don’t shoot, but rather they are Divinely shot.
There is a phrase in the Bible which reads in Hebrews 1:10,
“Foundation of the earth.”
The word “Foundation” in the Hebrew language means “To Lay Down.” God simply laid the foundation down – no problem for Him – for Him no big deal. That is the power that “Uplifted Staff Moses” contacted in Heaven. And as Moses prayerfully positioned himself before that all powerful Elohim, the Amalekites were knocked over like dominoes. It was obvious that God was with the Israelites. “THE UPLIFTED STAFFED PRAYER POSTURE” was the great power connection. America once knew, believed, and lived that same Elohim connection. She must prayerfully connect with Him again, or she is doomed.
Aaron and Hur saw what America no longer wants to see. They recognized the God-connection, and they set weary Moses down on a rock and positioned themselves under his arms, so that they could get some leverage, and they lifted them up to heaven again.
With that position reestablished in Moses’ posture, and the staff again lifted up to God, the battle switched to Israel’s favor, and Joshua and his men once more became God’s miracle fighting force. They then routed the Amalekites as Exodus 13:13 states,
“So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the
edge of the sword.”
Of course God used Joshua’s hand-picked forces to display His power for His covenant people, but without the Lord, the enemy would have abused them.
Too bad that camera crews were not there on location to film it just like there have been in all of the major battles that America has been engaged in. But then again, if there had been film crews, the skeptics and the pretenders to faith would write the films off as Disney World fantasy technology. The infidels would be outraged that the Christians were conspiring again to make the world believe more lies, and their darkened minds again would collapse under the weight and futility of their sin-darkened thoughts. And if the loosely religious would see such a war film of supernatural proportions, they just might mumble the insincere AMENS of street bums and drunks who often “amen” for a meal and a bed.
A STICK – WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?
Moses had learned the importance of that rather ordinary looking, uplifted staff, because it was ordered by the Lord. I am sure though that at first it didn’t make that much sense to him in the natural. After all, what could that stick accomplish in the total scheme of things? Wouldn’t he have been much more useful down there with Joshua and the troops, carrying whatever weapon that he could find, and joining with the rest of them into battle? Perhaps going forth into battle in his tunic, and clobbering a few Amalekites over the head with his stick would have been far more exemplary as the “Head Of The Israeli Armed Forces.”
But you see Moses had learned that the uplifted staff was HIS POINT OF CONTACT WITH GOD. This staff was not a small deal, but in point of fact was a VERY BIG DEAL THAT HAD SEALED THE DEAL over and over again. Huge issue, in fact, the biggest! Without that staff, he and all Israel were like a civil war soldier without a rifle, an army tank without its pivoting gun turret, an airplane bomber without a bomb, an aircraft carrier without aircraft etc.
When Moses’ staffed-prayer arms were lifted up to God, God reached down to save. When Moses’ staffed-prayer arms sank away from God because of human weakness and earth’s gravitational pull, still there were no extenuating circumstances with God as He then withdrew His saving power just like that. The point being, don’t leave home without it, and don’t let it sag even so much a fraction of an inch!
No wonder in the total Bible context that we read orders from our Commander-In-Chief like we do in I Thessalonians 5:17,
“Pray without ceasing.”
No down time there! Also the well-known words of God in I Timothy 2:8,
“Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands,
without wrath and dissension.”
KEEP YOUR HANDS UP! God requires constant and heartfelt and prayerful dependence upon Him with uplifted hearts and hands. God wants a people for whom prayer is a way of life, not an uneasy interruption; a people for whom prayer is like breathing, not an awkward coughing spell. Why? Because:
“PRAYER IS THE CHRISTIAN WARRIOR’S ONLY POINT OF
CONTACT WITH GOD.”
Hands up equals sure victory over our devilish enemies! Hands down equals sure defeat to our devilish enemies! If you will:
“LIFTING UP HOLY HANDS TO GOD IS NOT ONLY THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
SUCCESS AND FAILURE, BUT ALSO BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH.”
There are so many hardened government leaders, who during public prayers cannot even shut their eyes because their godless hearts are too swollen with pride and unbelief. They are such foreigners to prayer, that they cannot even assume the respectful posture when public prayer etiquette and respect call for it. What a glaring contrast to the spirit of President George Washington when he said:
“It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God,
to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to
implore His protection and favors.”
MIGHTY MO OR ALMIGHTY GOD
Oh come now, let’s not get too carried away with all of this staff and prayer stuff. After all, you know how it goes in contests of various sorts! There is always the ebb and flow of competition, and that powerful thing called MOMENTUM – MIGHTY MO. Ole Mo is such a mysterious fella who swings back and forth like a pendulum, and surely he does have a powerful influence on the outcome of a contest. What happened was not determined by Moses’ uplifted or sagging arms and staff, but rather, Mighty Mo swung back and forth like he so often does, and toward the end of the battle once Joshua and his soldiers somehow got MIGHTY MO in their favor, they never gave it up, and they pulled off the victory. End of story!
Not so fast! We are not really grasping what is going on here. Not even close! This was not simply shifting back and forth momentum, but rather, shifting back and forth massacres. It was all or nothing. No fighting force could be all that bad one second, and all that good the next; all that powerful one minute and all that weak the next. There was no military explanation for this war-comedy. The combatants looked like the world champions of all time one moment, and then look liked the world losers of all time the next.
You talk about grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory, and then hard on that grabbing victory from the jaws of defeat. Just when they thought that they were gloriously succeeding they ingloriously failed, and vice versa. This just doesn’t make sense! You’re right, it doesn’t. We read in Exodus 17:11,
“So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and
when he let his hand down Amalek prevailed.”
The verb “Prevailed” or “Unprevailed” means that alternatively the opposing forces were made mighty men and then were made weak puppies. What in the world is going on here, for after all, one moment I look and feel like a lion and the next moment I look and feel like a lamb? Of course, for what was happening on that battlefield was not ultimately happening there at all, but rather it was all taking place on a hill overlooking the theater of war.
Who would have ever thought that what was going on up there on STAFF MOUNTAIN could so totally determine what would happen on the battlefield below? The outcome of our spiritual battles will not be determined by the horizontal but always by the vertical – not by MIGHTY MO, but by ALMIGHTY GOD. It always is that way!
It isn’t about who is the biggest and baddest battlefield bully. It isn’t about who is the best General on the Battlefield, but rather, who is King of the Mountain. And our point of constant, persistent contact with the King of Kings is on PRAYER MOUNTAIN. Or as the Psalmist says in Psalm 121:1-2,
“I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; from whence shall my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”
One of the most influential Christians who ever lived was a philosopher whom we know as St. Augustine. If you know Augustine’s story, then you also know that for many years he ran from the Christian faith. He followed after such heretical groups like the Manichaeans who twisted the truth of the Scriptures. The Manichaean religion was a corrupt synthesis of Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Islam, and Buddhism. Augustine was a living example of the fact that when you are apart from Christ and the Word of God and you’re searching for truth as all philosophers do, then you will feed on whatever suits your fancies and whatever Satan puts before you. The fact is:
“WHEN YOU REJECT GOD AND HIS WORD, IT ISN’T THAT YOU WILL BELIEVE
IN NOTHING, BUT RATHER YOU WILL BELIEVE IN ANYTHING.”
Augustine wrapped his mental paws around Manichaeanism and fed on it for some time.
Augustine’s mother, Monica, was a fervent believer who prayed constantly for her son’s salvation. She devoted her entire life to praying for Augustine’s conversion to Christ. At one point, Monica begged a holy man to speak to Augustine, and show him that his Manichaean beliefs were untrue. The holy man refused to speak to Augustine who was known to have a great intellect, and would likely try to dismantle and belittle the holy man’s arguments. The holy man assured mother Monica that he too had once been a Manichaean and that Augustine was too smart to deceive himself much longer. At this, Monica began to cry, and the holy man said to her,
“Live on as you are living. It is not possible that the son of
such tears should be lost.”
After many years of Monica lifting up the staff on PRAYER MOUNTAIN, and after her son’s severe inner struggle with demons of untruth, Augustine one day was touched by a revelation in Scripture, and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savoir. When Monica learned of her son’s salvation, she remarked that she had nothing more to live for, because the greatest desire of her heart had been fulfilled. Nine months later, mother Monica died, and her son who she had spent her life praying for him on PRAYER MOUNTAIN went on to affect the whole world for Christ.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, never come down from PRAYER MOUNTAIN as you pray and weep for your lost children, grandchildren, family and friends. Ruthie and I have a list that will never let us come down for the rest of our lives. We also have some who have marvelously come to Christ, but we must continue to lift up the staff on PRAYER MOUNTAIN for them, for they are brand new babes in Christ and so vulnerable to Amalekite attacks. Some are coming out of false religion and doctrines of demons, and while they are now flying high in Christ, they look like the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels precision flying team on their first day of practice. Lots of swarming with little precision, but as we lift up the staff for them, they will little by little and more and more come into order!
See you on the mountain as we lift up each others hearts and hands in prayer. God bless you for that is where it is all happening! Amen!