As we have been going through Exodus, I have pointed out the stories are full of typology. By typology, we mean Biblical events that point to patterns of truth about Christ and the Christian life. Clear examples are the Passover and the Manna from heaven. The Passover Lamb, whose blood caused death to pass over the homes of Israel, is identified with Christ being the sacrifice for sin (John 1), and the manna points to Christ being the only way of life with God in this fallen world (John 6).

In this story, we see a pattern of the Christian life. Amalek attacks Israel in the wilderness. The name Amalek means “warlike.” Israel had been brought out of bondage in Egypt and is headed for the Promised Land. They do not have an easy journey. Christians are redeemed by God from their bondage to sin and the devil, are headed for the Promised Land, and have enemies they must overcome. These enemies include their own sinful nature, the world, and the devil.

We notice in the story the battle went on until the sun went down. There is no escape from the battle for the Christian. Certainly God’s providence is mysterious, like a curtain hangs over God’s work so we cannot see what he is doing. So if we are unclear about particulars in providence, we must look to the clear themes and truths of Scripture.

One of these is our sinful nature tries to resist God. When God’s grace enters our soul, we are sort of like the body with an organ transplant that tries to reject the new resident as a foreign invader. Understanding this struggle is important in any circumstance. The Lord uses difficulties to point his people to rest completely in his promise and sufficiency. 

The Christian is directed to remember the activity of the devil in their battle against their own sin. The apostle Paul told King Agrippa he was sent by Christ to turn people from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God, that they might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among the people of God by faith in Christ (Acts 26).

Paul also teaches Christians they must wrestle against the schemes of the devil, and cosmic powers over this present darkness, spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6). These are real powers, relentless in their attacks. To wrestle is exhausting work. The devil left after failing to conquer Jesus in the desert, but only to look for another opportune time.

The Christian is promised final victory (Romans 16:20), but not without a struggle. They must fight the fight of faith, to cling to the truth of Christ. Satan uses any means to attack; allurements to the sinful nature such as malice, vanity, or immorality; or persecution by men; false teaching; and of course, doubts about God’s goodness and promise.

Given that the Christian is called to this conflict, we must also learn from the passage the need to use the means God gives to his people to combat the attacks. Joshua is chosen and sent into the conflict, but we see Moses up on the hill with the staff of God in his hands. The battle goes back and forth according to Moses uplifted hands. When his hands sag, Israel starts to lose, when they are lifted up, they win.

The staff in Moses hands represents the necessary power of God in the conflict, and his upraised hands represent intercessory prayer. We underestimate the need we have for prayer, because we underestimate the power of the enemy, and overestimate our own strength. When Jesus said, “You can do nothing apart from me,” it was not hyperbole. When Paul says “pray continually”, he is pointing to an absolute dependence upon the power of the Lord in the battle against sin and the devil.

It is instructive to us that Moses the most humble man on the planet, a man who loved the Lord and sought his glory, prays in Psalm 90, “Teach us to number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom.” Humble Christians know the power of the devil, so they look to the necessary power of God.

When the battle ended, Moses built an altar to the Lord, and named it “The Lord is my banner.” In other words, it is to the Lord we will look. He is our strength. Remember in the struggle Christian friends, the Lord Jesus is continually interceding for you. Your labor and struggle is not in vain.