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Exodus 17:8-16

Defining Moments

  • Matthew Dodd
  • Sunday Night Messages
  • November 21, 2021

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
November 21, 2021


1. What moments have defined your life?
2. Tonight, we will discover how the Lord took a crisis during Israel’s journey through the wilderness and used it to define them and also their understanding of God.

Exodus 17:8-16


1. God was building a theocracy, one nation truly under God; led by God, devoted to God, obedient to God’s commands.

2. In essence, God used the wilderness journey to prepare Israel for life with Him in the Promised Land.

3. Each difficulty Israel encountered as they traveled through the wilderness was a divine object lesson.
a. Israel needed to learn about God’s character and wholeheartedly trust Him.
b. Israel needed to learn God’s ways and intentionally follow Him.

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

Transition – What was God teaching Israel then and us today through this attack? What was and is the meaning of this defining moment for Israel?

I. Battles Reveal Reality (8-10)

A. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood

1. Here at Rephidim the Israelites had their first actual battle.

2. Unexpectedly, Israel was attacked by the Amalekites, their relatives, descendants of Esau according to Genesis 36:12.

3. Scripture records their tactics and goal.
a. Tactic: Surprise attack 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 – From this account, we discover a common tactic used in war, one that Satan employs in spiritual warfare to defeat God’s people.

• Spiritually speaking, Satan will attempt to disorient Christians at a moment of weakness so that he may disarm and ultimately defeat them.
• The Apostle Peter understood Satan’s spiritual warfare tactics, he had experienced it firsthand when he denied the Lord three times. (Matthew 26:69-74)
• Peter sounded the alarm so that God’s people would remain sober, alert, and able to successfully resist Satan’s wicked tactics.

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 goal is to defeat God by defeating God’s plan to save us through Jesus:

• Blot out Israel to prevent the first coming of Messiah.
• Blot out Israel so there is no remnant when Messiah returns to reign on David’s throne. (2 Samuel 7)

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

APPL – When life-defining battles come, we must remember our battle is not against flesh and blood.

• Satan seeks to divide and conquer us.

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.

• We’re engaged in a critical battle now.

Transition – But I’ve got good news. . .

B. God has a plan for every battle

1. God may use different means to achieve His victory.
a. Red Sea: Pharaoh’s army drowned.
b. Jericho: March around the city and the walls came down.
c. Rephidim: Sword and staff.

2. We must 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, we must trust God through all the time, every time.

• When the battle is His, the outcome is certain.
• God’s wisdom and grace are sufficient for us to overcome all of our enemy’s attacks.

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 – Are you in a battle? Does your battle belong to the Lord?

• Job or finances?
• Marriage or family?
• Personal struggles or addictions?

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

APPL – What does Romans 8:31 mean to you?

• Will you confidently stand on what God is saying to you through this verse?
• Will you let the truth of this verse become so ingrained in your soul that it defines you and the way you live?

A.W. Tozer, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”

APPL – When God defines 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.

• When God defines 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.

• When God defines our lives, our reason for living differently.

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 – God is good and all that He does is for our good.

• We must see life through God’s love.
• We must see life through His grace.
• We must see life through God’s faithfulness.
• And we must see life through His sufficiency.

Transition – The truth is, our lives will be defined one way or another.

• The question is, “How will your life be defined?”
• Your answer to that question will be determined by your answer to this question, “Who do you want to define your life?”
• May I encourage you to. . .

II. Ask God to Define Your Life (11-16)

• What does it look like to have God define your life?
• What do you need to do to have God define your life?

A. Ask Jesus to fight your battles

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

2. Joshua is a type of 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 our foes and will ultimately bring us to our Promised Land, the eternal 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 Him.

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, not so with Jesus Christ.

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

APPL – In the midst of these unprecedented times, we can have peace because we know how the last verse of the Bible reads; our God wins!

B. Take courage, Jesus is praying for you

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 of God over the battlefield.
a. The staff represents God’s authority and power.
b. For the believer, raising the staff is a picture of humility and dependence upon God.
o Like a child reaching to a parent for help, Moses cried to the Lord, who is mighty in battle.
o As an intercessor, Moses stood in the gap for Israel, representing them before God in prayer.

3. This reveals that Moses is a type of Christ.
a. But unlike Moses, Jesus does not need the archangels, Michael and Gabriel, to steady His arms after a long day of spiritual warfare.
b. Jesus never grows weary of praying 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.

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

6. There, Moses declared “the Lord is My Banner.” (Yahweh Nissi)
a. A banner was rally point, a call 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 – The value of Yahweh Nissi, the Lord is our Banner, can be seen in the value of the US flag.

• The flag represents the power and valor of our nation, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
• When I see our flag and hear the national anthem, gratitude fills my heart and tears fill my eyes because it is a blessing to live in this great country.
• For the Christian, how much more is God our banner?
• Therefore, we owe our allegiance to Him.
• God defines us!


APPL – Joshua never forgot the battle against Amalek and his men.

• The Lord was Joshua’s banner, his allegiance to God never wavered.
• That moment defined Joshua.
• And Joshua let God define the rest of his days.

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.

APPL – Will you pray and ask the Lord, “Define my life?”

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 sword.

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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