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Exodus 17:8-16

Defining Moments

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Weekend Messages
  • January 23, 2016

Battles are defining moments. They reveal reality to us. Our struggle isn’t against flesh and blood, it’s a struggle against Satan and the evil of this world. God is here to fight our battles, and He has a battle plan in place in order to lead us to victory. In moments such as these, we need to let God define our lives and let him fight for us. Today we will discover how the Lord took a critical moment during Israel’s journey through the wilderness and used it to define them and their understanding of God. What moments in your life have defined you?

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Defining Moments

Exodus 17:8-16 


ILLUS – Defining Moments – Malina’s first day at preschool

1. What moments in your life have defined you? 

2. Today we will discover how the Lord took a critical moment during Israel’s journey through the wilderness and used it to define them and their understanding
of God.

READ Exodus 17:8-16


1. God was building a nation for Himself.

2. God was preparing Israel for life with Him in the Promised Land.

3. Each difficulty provided an object lesson for Israel during their journey through the wilderness towards the Promised Land.

a. To learn about God’s ways

b. To learn to trust God’s character and walk by faith

4. Here in Exodus 17, Israel was not confronted by Pharaoh, thirst, or hunger but by a foreign enemy, Amalek and his men!

5. What was God trying to teach Israel back then and us today through this attack?

I.     Battles Reveal Reality (8-10)

A.     Our struggle isn’t against flesh and blood (8)

1. Here at Rephidim Israel had their first actual battle.

2. Suddenly Israel was attacked by the Amalekites, the descendants of Esau (Gen. 36:12)

3. Scripture records their tactics and ultimate goal

a. Tactics: Surprise attack on the weak

Deuteronomy 25:17-18, “Remember what Amalek did to you along the way when you came out from Egypt, how he met you along the way and attacked
among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear God.”

APPL –Satan seeks to destroy the weak and weary

1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”

b. Goal: Defeat God by annihilating Israel

Psalm 83:4-5, “They have said, ‘Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.” For they have
conspired together with one mind; against You do they make a covenant.”

APPL – Satan’s ultimate goals: Defeat God and His Plan 

Blot out Israel to prevent the first coming of Messiah (Failed)

Blot out Israel so there’s no remnant when Messiah returns

ILLUS – Dr. Dwight Pentecost’s teaching on the antichrist

APPL – When life defining battles come, we must remember our battle isn’t against flesh and blood. Satan seeks to divide and conquer! 

Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces
of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” 

B.      God has a plan for every battle

1. God may use different means to achieve victory

a. Red Sea: Pharaoh’s army drowned

b. Jericho: March around the city, walls fell down

c. Rephidim: Sword and Staff

2. Never forget that God’s ways are higher than our own

a. Sometimes He prevents the battle

b. At other times He takes us away from battle

c. Often He leads us to victory through the battle

APPL – While God’s battle plan may not be predictable, it does not matter which plan God selects. When the battle is His, the outcome is sealed. His wisdom and grace are sufficient for us to overcome all of our enemy’s attacks and schemes!

Ephesians 6:16, “taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one.”

APPL – What’s your battle? Does your battle belong to the Lord? 

Job or finances

Marriage or family

Personal struggles

Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who is against us?”

APPL – What does this verse mean to you? Do you confidently stand on what God is saying to you through this verse? Has it become so ingrained in your DNA that is has defined you and the way you live? 

A.W. Tozer, “Our relationship to God is the most important thing about us.”

APPL – So, how important to you is your relationship with God? Your answer will determine whether or not God is defining your life! Your
choices reveal whether or not God is defining your life! All of our lives are being defined. Who or what is defining you?

ILLUS – What ingredients are essential for living life each day? (Malina and food options)

APPL – When God is defining our lives, we see others differently… 

2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

APPL – When our relationship to God is defining our lives, we see ourselves differently…

Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live
in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.”

APPL – When our relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, is defining our lives, our reason for living is changes…

2 Corinthians 5:9, 14, “Therefore also we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For the love of Christ
controls us,”

APPL – What’s changed? Everything! We are no longer fixated on our inadequacy or puffed up with empty vanity. When God is defining our
lives, we see life through His love, His grace, His faithfulness, His sufficiency. Our identity is in Christ, Christ alone!

II.      Let God Define Your Life (11-16)

A.     Let Jesus fight your battles (11)

1. This passage introduces us to Joshua for the first time 

2. Joshua is a type of Jesus Christ

a. “Joshua” in Hebrew means, “The Lord saves”

b. “Jesus” in Greek means, “The Lord saves”

3. Joshua defeated the Amalekites and ultimately brought Israel into the Promised Land

4. Jesus defeats all of our foes and will ultimately bring us to our Promised Land, the New Heavens and Earth

a. Jesus is our victory over the world

John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I
have overcome the world.”

b. Jesus is our victory over Satan

Colossians 2:15, “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through

c. Jesus is our victory over temptation

Hebrews 2:18, “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.”

APPL – But notice Joshua became weak and Israel began to falter when Moses became weary of holding up the staff with his arms… not so with Jesus Christ! 

Matthew 16:18, “upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will shall not overpower it.”

APPL – I’ve read the last verse of my Bible. God wins!

B.      Take courage, Jesus is praying for you (12-16) 

1. Moses brought Aaron and Hur with him to the top of the mountain to watch the battle

2. With both hands, Moses elevated the staff over the battle field

a. Staff represented God’s authority and power

b. This is a picture of humility and dependence

i. Like a child reaching to a parent for help, Moses cried to the Lord, Who is mighty in battle

ii. As an intercessor, Moses stood in the gap for Israel, representing them before God in prayer

3. Moses is a type of Christ. But unlike Moses, Jesus does not need the archangels, Michael and Gabriel, to steady His arms after a long day of prayer!
Jesus never grows wearying of interceding for us.

Hebrews 7:25, “Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession
for them.”

ILLUS – How do you feel when someone says, “I’m praying for you?” 

4. After the victory, God told Moses to write the account of this battle and victory in a book as a memorial so that Joshua and Israel would never forget
that what Amalek started God would ultimately finish! The same is true for us in Christ. What Satan started, Jesus will finish!

5. Then, Moses built an altar so that Israel may offer thanksgiving and worship to the Lord for the victory. There, Moses also declared “the Lord is My
Banner” (Yahweh Nissi)

a. A banner was rally point, a place to unite

b. A standard for gathering and receiving orders

c. A place to receive vision, healing, and hope

d. Ultimately, Moses was swearing allegiance to God

ILLUS – Yahweh Nissi, our Banner, can be seen in the importance of the US flag. It represents the power and valor of our nation…
the land of the free and the home of the brave. When our eyes see the flag and our ears hear the anthem, it brings tears to our eyes. How much more
is God our banner and our allegiance is with Him. He defines us!


Joshua 24:15, “And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the
gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we
will serve the Lord.”

Will you say to the Lord, “Define me!”


Exodus 17:8-16    NASB

8 Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. 9 So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will
station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” 10 Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron,
and Hur went up to the top of the hill. 11 So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek
prevailed. 12 But Moses’ hands were heavy. Then 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 one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. 13 So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under
heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar and named it The Lord is My Banner; 16 and he said, “The Lord has sworn; the Lord will have war against Amalek from
generation to generation.” 



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