Exodus 17-19

Sunday Evening Bible Study

April 6, 1997


Four over four hundred years, the descendants of Israel had been in Egypt.

But the process of deliverance is finally over, and with a strong hand, God brought them out of Egypt, and through the Red Sea, never to see the Egyptians again.

Now the process begins of bringing the nation into the Promised Land.

God doesnít just want His people free from their old bondage and slavery, He wants them in a new place, in a Promised Land.

And so begins the wilderness journey.

We saw last week that God gave them special food in the wilderness, manna.

Exodus 17

:2 chide

riyb - to strive, contend

They started fighting and arguing with Moses over the water situation.

I wonder if it ever occurred to the people to even think about asking God for help?

:6 the rock in Horeb

Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai.

The people have arrived at the place where Moses is going to receive the ten commandments (coming in chapter 20)

:6 thou shalt smite the rock

Moses is told to take his famous staff, and go up to this big rock and hit the rock with the staff, making water come out of the rock.

Sounds simple enough.

There's actually more here than meets the eye.

Paul tells us that the "rock" was Christ:

(1 Cor 10:4 KJV) And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

And here Moses is told to "smite" the rock, and water will come out.

The idea is that Jesus would be "smitten" for our sins, and produce spiritual refreshment for us.

Later, Moses will be told to "speak to" the rock, and water will come out.

After Jesus died for us, all a person has to do is believe, to "speak to" the rock, to enjoy spiritual refreshment.

The only problem is, Moses is going to disobey the Lord and smite the rock a second time, blowing the illustration.

God's not going to be very happy about that.

:7 Massah, and Meribah,

The place had two different names.

Massah = "temptation"

Meribah = "strife" or "contention"


Don't harden your heart, worship instead.

There's a special Psalm that relates to this incident.

(Psa 95 KJV) O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. {2} Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. {3} For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. {4} In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. {5} The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. {6} O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. {7} For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, {8} Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: {9} When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. {10} Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: {11} Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

Verse 8 can and should read:

(Psa 95:8 NASB) Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness;

We have a choice, hardening our hearts and testing the Lord, or yielding to Him and worshipping Him.

:8 Amalek

Amalek = "dweller in a valley"

These were wandering, nomadic people who lived in the desert south of Canaan (1Sam.15:7; 27:8), being descendants of Esau (Gen.36:12).

Some have suggested that Amalek is an excellent picture of the flesh.

They are at least not a very nice people.

Note that the Amalekites have attacked Israel first.

:9 Joshua

This is the same Joshua that will one day lead the conquest of the Promised Land.

This is just early ministry training for him.

:11 when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed

You can look at this as some sort of a magic thing.

But it's really a picture of prayer.

Paul wrote:

(1 Tim 2:8 KJV) I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

Whenever Moses lifts his hands in prayer, the battle is leaning towards the Israelites.


Our spiritual walk affects our physical life.

It seems that we spend so much time worrying about the things we can see with our eyes.

When the real battle is being won or lost in prayer.

I see it constantly in our own church.

The more we get people involved in prayer, the greater the work is.

That's why it's so important to me that we have people in our "prayer covering" ministry, praying while I'm preaching.

Paul said:

(Eph 6:12 KJV) For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

The real battle is on our knees.

:12 Moses' hands were heavy

Mathew Henry said: We do not find that Joshua's hands were heavy in fighting, but Moses' hands were heavy in praying; the more spiritual any service is, the more apt we are to fail and flag in it.

We can see this conflict in the lives of the disciples.

They didnít mind a little physical exertion at night.

Several times we see them rowing across the sea of Galilee at night. Once while Jesus was asleep in the boat during a storm.

But they had a hard time staying awake when it came to praying through the night.

While Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, they couldnít keep their eyes open.

It's not easy to fight a spiritual battle.

In many ways, it would be a lot easier working at McDonnell Douglas.

:12 Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands

Moses couldn't do it alone.

He needed help.


Support one another.

There are times when we're going to see other people faltering in the warfare.

Sit them down on the Rock.

Hold up their hands.

Encourage one another.

I need your support.

:15 Jehovahnissi

Jehovah-nissi = "Jehovah is my banner"

It's the idea the Yahweh is our "rallying point", He's the one we gather around, He's the one we fight for, He's the one who brings the victory.

:16 the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation

In a few hundred years, God is going to give a command to King Saul to wipe out the Amalekites -

(1 Sam 15:2 KJV) Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.

Saul isn't going to take God's command too seriously, and that's going to cost him his kingdom.

To obey is better than sacrifice.

Exodus 18

:1 the priest of Midian

The Midianites were descendants of Abraham, by his second wife, Keturah, whom he married after Sarah died. (Gen. 25:2)

This is now some 500 years after Abraham, but keep in mind that though these people might not exactly have a great relationship with God (in fact is kind of stinks Ė Numbers 25), they had a good start, being descended from Abraham.

:3 Gershom = "exile"

:4 Eliezer = "God is help"

:5 Jethro...came with his sons and his wife to Moses

So, apparently Moses wife and kids had been staying with Jethro during Moses trip to Egypt.

Now they're reunited.

:7 did obeisance, and kissed him

He bowed down and kissed him (NAS)

Imagine putting yourself in Moses' shoes. Think of all that God has just done through him. The miracles. God speaking to him. Leading two million people. Being on close terms with God.

Now here's his "father-in-law".


Youíre never too big to show humility and respect.

Moses shows him respect and honor.

:8 all that the LORD had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake

I love this.

Hereís Moses sitting around the campfire with his father-in-law, telling him all that God has been doing in his life.


Share your testimony.

Thatís all a testimony is, telling others what God has done for you. Thatís witnessing.

Doesn't mean we can't share our problems or try to pretend that we don't have any.

But we need to ask ourselves, "Has God, will God, continually deliver me?

PSA 34:19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous; But the \Lord\ delivers him out of them all.

:11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all gods

It would seem that Jethro was a polytheist, believing in many gods.

But now he knows the truth.

I expect to see Jethro in heaven.

Mosesí testimony has caused Jethro to believe.

:12 to eat bread with Moses' father in law before God

This is the idea of the "peace offering". A time of fellowship, enjoying the peace with God, with each other.

Eating a meal with God.

:13 the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening

This is how long the people waited in line to ask Moses something.

Kind of like the Indiana Jones line at Disneyland after it first opened.

Iím told this is what itís like waiting to talk to me after church on Sunday morning (well, almost).

:14 What is this thing that thou doest to the people?

To some of this, this might look as if old Jethro is trying to meddle in his son-in-law's affairs.

Sometimes we tend to get offended when people suggest advice to us. Notice that Moses wasn't even asking Jethro for advice.


Be teachable.

Why did Moses not get upset with his father-in-law?

I believe it was greatly because of his humility.

A humble person is willing to accept that other people might have information or advice that could benefit them. They don't believe they have all the answers.

This is having a "teachable spirit".

I think this is important not only for in-laws, but marriages, friendships, all kinds of relationships.

:16 I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws

Up to this point, there is no written law of God.

The only source for authoritative answers the people have is from Moses.

The people would come to Moses with their questions or disputes, and Moses would get his answers from God.

:19 Be thou for the people to God-ward, that thou mayest bring the causes unto God:

NIV Ė "You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him."

:22 every great matter they shall bring unto thee, but every small matter they shall judge

These judges, or "elders" would handle the regular situations, and bring just the big things to Moses for counsel.

Moses would be a kind of "Supreme Court" over Israel.

:24 Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law

I think that Moses sensed God working through Jethroís counsel.

Moses was not above taking advice.

Pr 9:9 Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. (NIV)

Pr 12:1 Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid. (NIV)

:25 Moses chose able men out of all Israel

So Moses follows the directions of Jethro, and sets up a leadership structure within the nation, to help carry the load of the people.



Itís kind of like what weíve been going through as a small but growing church.

The blessing of having a small church has been that you can actually talk to, and maybe even get to know and be known by your pastor.

But to tell you the truth, weíre a little beyond what I feel I can keep up with anymore.

Thereís times when I feel like Iím about to sink under all the concerns of the church.

So Iíve been trying to learn to spread the load out a little bit between the staff and the elders.

A few months ago, we decided in the eldersí meeting to split the church up among the elders.

Each elder is going to be responsible for praying weekly over a portion of people in the directory.

Theyíll keep the same people for four months.

Iím hoping that this might even develop that people will consider calling their elder for prayer every once in a while.

Spreading the weight around.


Exodus 19

:4 how I bare you on eagles' wings

An eagle teaches it's young to fly in a very different way.

Eagles' nests are located on very high, out of the way places.

When it's time for a flying lesson, the mother eagle will push the baby out of the nest.

The baby will start flailing at the air, trying to fly, but falling like a rock to the canyon floor.

At just the last moment, the mother will swoop down, and scoop up the baby on top of it's wings.

Then they try it all over again.

God never promises to keep us away from problems, but He always promises to rescue us in the nick of time.

In talking about how the Israelites gave us examples of how to live, and how not to live, Paul writes:

1CO 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.

An interesting way of thinking of the Red Sea.


There may be another interesting tie-in:

In the tribulation period, Israel will find itself fleeing from the wrath of the anti-christ Ö

(Rev 12:14 KJV) And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.


:5 ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people

NIV - you will be my treasured possession

We sure seem "peculiar" sometimes, but we need to remember that we are Godís treasures!

:9 that the people may hear when I speak with thee

The people were actually going to hear Godís voice give Moses the ten commandments (next chapter, Exodus 20).

:10 sanctify them to day and to morrow

They had a couple of days to get ready to meet God.

They had to meet God in their own righteousness, we get to meet God in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

:15 come not at your wives

NIV Ė "Abstain from sexual relations."

:16 there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud

Quite an awesome display of power.

You can read more about this in Hebrews 12:18-29.

:17 they stood at the nether part of the mount

At the foot of the mountain

:24 let not the priests and the people break through to come up unto the LORD

God is concerned for the safety of the people.

He can see that they are not really ready to come into His presence.

He knows that if they get too close, they will be consumed in the fire of His holiness.


Take worship seriously.

This isnít a joke.

God is holy. Youíre not (at least without Jesus youíre not).