The Gospel According to Moses
DAILY DEVOTIONAL READINGS BY KIM HARRINGTON
WeekXIII: Intercession & Spiritual Warfare
Day 85: Satisfaction
Our fathers...all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.1
I wonder what that water tasted like. The Bible describes the taste of the spiritual food, manna, but it doesnít say exactly what the water was like. But you know it must have been very good or the Israelites would have murmured for sure.
In the first place it was what the Word of God calls "living water." Thatís not just a way of saying it was spiritual and godly, but it was the common Hebrew way to express that it was water from a fountain, not a cistern. A cistern holds water that was drawn from somewhere, but a fountain is putting forth fresh, living, water all the time. Living water hasnít been sitting in a tank or well someplace, breeding amoebas and bacteria. It doesnít taste stale, and it hasnít picked up the smell of the world around it. There is no dirt in it. Itís cold and refreshing, just what you need out in a desert. Like everything else God provides, the water He supplied for the Israelites was first class, not a bargain-basement arrangement, for Heís not a penny-ante God.
The spiritual drink of Christ is even better. Itís a thirsty world out there, and people are trying desperately to satisfy that thirst in any way they can. One of the most recognized songs in modern history is the Rolling Stonesí "I Canít Get No Satisfaction." With all of the pleasures of the world at his fingertips, poor old Mick Jagger still canít quench his thirst. Money and all it can buy is not the answer. Sex and parties will not do it for you. Love and marriage can become equally as empty and dissatisfying. Old Mick was really looking in the wrong direction when he started having "sympathy for the devil," for Satan will leave you thirstier than ever, no matter how hard you try to serve him.
The thirst is only quenched in Jesus. Iíve had satisfaction now for many years, and itís getting better each day. I donít have Mickís money, and Iíll never fly around with the jet-set like he does. I donít minister before crowds the size that he does, and I wouldnít know one brand of caviar from another. But Iíve got living water, the kind that really meets my needs. Iím not wandering around the desert anymore, looking for some new thrill, trying to get a little satisfaction. I havenít grown bitter and disillusioned about life and its prospects; my life has the prospect of eternity. I didnít do anything to deserve itólike Israel I was just out there murmuring about how lousy everything wasóbut God revealed Himself to me through a co-worker, and somehow I made the right decision and said "yes" to Him. Maybe somebody should witness to Mick Jagger. Heís still singing his classic rock hit, and from the heart every time.
Day 86: The Day They Broke Godís Heart
And he named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, "Is the Lord among us, or not?"
As weíve pointed out already, this story about the water from the rock is told just briefly here in Exodus where it happened, but commented on several times elsewhere in the Bible. What we havenít pointed out is that the mention is usually negativeóIsrael blew it big time at the waters of Meribah.
It was a crucial turning point in Godís relationship with them. It wasnít the sin that kept them out of the promised landóthat was at Kadesh Barnea, which weíll get to in due time. But something important happened here at Meribah. Something that really bothered the Lord, and caused Him to say in Psalm 95...
Today if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness, when your fathers tested Me. They tried me, though they had seen My work. For forty years I loathed that generation, and said they are a people who err in their heart, and they do not know my ways. Therefore I swore in My anger, truly they shall not enter into My rest. (vss 7b-11)
The writer of Hebrews quotes this passage in full in chapter three, using it to warn lukewarm and backsliding Christians to start fearing the Lord again. Itís an important statement by God, describing an important event: the day Israel broke the Lordís heart. From this time on God knew this generation was not entering Canaanís land. Oh, Iím sure that God knows everything from the beginning, and He knew the whole story long before He called them out of Egypt, yet it was this particular disclosure of their evil hearts that sealed their doom.
They had seen His miracle-working power many times already, yet they tested Him again. They showed Him that day that they really didnít want to know His ways, that their hearts were incurably in error. And that day, in His holy anger, according to Psalm 95, He swore that they would not enter the blessings He had prepared for them.
Think of it. He was like a bridegroom who had built a beautiful house for his new wife, but never got to carry her over the threshold. He had fought dearly for her, been insulted over and over, finally come out victorious over the enemy that held her, and taken her out of slavery. He loved her with a love so deep, so real, that no price or hardship, was too much. Heíd have done anything for her. But she turned out to be so ungrateful, such a miserable excuse for a bride, that she insulted him daily, turned against him for the slightest imagined offence, misunderstood his good intentions, and spat in his loving eyes again and again. He finally realized that she would never be his, and so he cut her offóin anger, yes, but even more, in hurt. Like David and Michel, he kept her the rest of her life, because He was noble and honorable, and faithful in spite of heróbut they had no relations, and she received none of the inheritance.
Itís one of the saddest stories in history, and all the more sad because itís being reenacted to this very day. Christians who have followed the Lord out of Egypt, been baptized into the newness of life, made to eat the bread of life and drink the living water, are still hardening their hearts against their Savior and breaking His heart. Donít you do it. Return this great love and walk with this wonderful Lord. Heís too precious to risk offending.
Day 87: Spiritual Warfare
Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim...So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.
One day as Israel trekked through the Sinai wilderness they were attacked by an army of Amalekites. Moses quickly dispatched Joshua and an army of Israelites to meet the enemy, while he himself went up on a nearby hill. While the two armies fought, Moses held his staff up in the air. As it turned out, it was a good thing he did that, because when his hands were raised, the Israelites prevailed against their enemy, but when he dropped his hands from fatigue, the Amalekites got the upper hand.
Was this merely a superstitious ritual, or is there actually some miraculous power resident in the staff itself? Neither. The staff was a symbol of Godís power extended towards His people, but the raising or lowering of it, in itself, was immaterial. Neither was this some kind of superstitionóthe Bible doesnít promote superstition of any variety: we walk by faith, not omens and superstitions.
The story is a lesson in intercessory prayer. Moses stretched the staff heavenward, and prayed to the God of heaven for victory over the enemy. God answered the prayer of His servant by causing the army of Israel to prevail. But, you might ask, doesnít God hear a simple prayer of faith and respond to it? why did Moses have to keep at it the entire time, and why did the Amalekites get the upper hand when he let his hands down?
Intercessory prayer is often a form of spiritual warfare, and thatís the case here in Exodus seventeen. It wasnít just a matter of getting God to answer in the affirmative, it was a matter of overcoming the spiritual powers that were resisting the answer to the prayer. Yes, demons and principalities of the dark side can resist the work of God, delay answers to prayer, keep good things from being done, and set back the work of the kingdom. Itís not that the Lord doesnít have the power to override all the works of the enemyóHe does, of courseóbut He has delegated much of the authority in the Universe: Satan has certain rights and powers, as do we. We have to exercise our authority and fight the enemy with all the weapons in our spiritual arsenal in order to see our goals in the Lord accomplished.
One of the most powerful weapons we have is intense intercessory prayer. Weíll talk a little bit more about this in the next few days, so be sure and tune in.
Day 88: Struggling in the Heavenlies
Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim...So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed.
As we pointed out yesterday, the story of Moses raising his staff before the Lord during the battle with Amalek is an illustration of spiritual warfare. There are times when the enemy arrays himself against us, and only intense spiritual warfare can break through his lines and achieve victory. On several occasions Jesus spoke of continuing in prayer: keep on asking and knocking until the answer comes; keep on pounding on your neighborís door until it finally opens and you get your request; keep on bothering the unjust judge until he administers justice. Itís not a matter of reluctance on Godís partóHe wants to answer the prayers of His childrenóbut rather, of a well-organized resistance on the enemyís part that has to be broken through.
Mosesí part in the battle against the Amalekites was a crucial one. It was his job to break through the spiritual resistance, while Joshua and the soldiers broke through the physical resistance. "We wrestle not against flesh and blood," Paul said, "but against principalities and powers and spiritual wickedness in heavenly places." In the case of Amalek there was also a flesh and blood enemy, Amalek, but the more powerful enemy was the spiritual one that Moses wrestled with on the mountaintop. Often the events taking place on earth are mere reflections of the spiritual struggles, victories, and losses going on in the heavenly realm. In Daniel chapter ten the prophet was given a glimpse into this when the Lord revealed to him the warfare going on between Michael the archangel and the prince of Persia.
The prayer battle as waged by Moses on the hill, has been compared to the air war in modern combat. Before the foot soldiers go into battle, the enemy is "softened up" by air strikes, both from offshore gunboats and aircraft strikes. In the recent conflicts with Iraq the value of the air war was quite evident. The foot war became more of a mopping up than anything else because of the effectiveness of the air war. In spiritual warfare the same can be true. If there is a powerful intercessory effort going on, the war will go better for the kingdom of God: new areas will be opened up, people will be saved and delivered, the devil and his hosts will be routed, and various pockets of resistance to the truth will be overcome more readily.
There is a great need in the church today for spiritual warriors, men and women who will, like Moses, stand on the hilltop with their hands raised towards heaven, engaging the spiritual enemy in hand-to-hand combat. There is a great and almost unexplored realm of ministry here for those who will enter and start learning of it. Maybe you are one of those called to do it. I hope so, because I, for one, could use a few prayer warriors standing with my ministry. If Godís speaking to you about this, get to work... and drop me a line sometime, too, so I can keep you informed on whatís going on down on the plain with the Amalekites.
Day 89: When Two or Three Agree Together
But Mosesí 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. The his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Moses raising his hands before the Lord on the hilltop during the battle with Amalek is an example of the effectiveness of spiritual warfare. If youíre sending out foot soldiers, whether in the natural or the spiritual realm, you should give them good air cover. In the spiritual realm this means intercessory prayer and demon-wrestling.
Another principle of spiritual warfare is also evident in this story, too, and that is the principle of agreement. Here is where the role of Aaron and Hur becomes evident. Moses couldnít have been as effective without them; the battle would not have been won if they hadnít stood with him for he was tiring and would soon have been neutralized by the enemy. But they set a rock under him, and then held up his hands, standing with him, praying with him, seeing him through until the victory was won.
The Old Testament often provides living examples of the teachings of the New Testament, and this is just such a case. Moses, Aaron, and Hur illustrate what has been called the "prayer of agreement." Jesus said, "if two of you shall agree on earth as touching anything that they shall ask, it shall be done for them..." and "whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven..." (Mt 18:19,18, KJV). Two or three people agreeing together in prayer or spiritual warfare are much more powerful than one alone. Thereís more in the Old Testament about this truth, too. Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 4:12, "if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken," (KJV). In the Law it says that when God is fighting with someone one shall chase a hundred, and two shall put ten thousand to flight, (Deut 32:30). There is a great multiplication principle when it comes to spiritual warfare.
The lesson is obvious. When Godís people get together and agree in prayer tremendous things can be accomplished. Two people donít accomplish twice as much but a hundred times as much as one. Two or three people, directed by the Holy Spirit, can make war in the spiritual realm and really help the cause of Christ on this earth. Why? Because wherever two or three are gathered together in His name, Christ is there, too. And thatís the key that will keep you from just doing flaky presumptuous things in the flesh. Make sure that what youíre agreeing together on is really birthed in the Spirit, in the interests of Christ and His kingdom, seeing things from His perspective and according to His will, and Heíll truly be with you. Then start agreeing together on these Spirit-led objectives, and there will be no limit to what may be accomplished. What are you waiting for? Call a friend and get busy!
Day 90: Doers and Fighters
So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Before we move on from our brief study of spiritual warfare, one more point needs to be made. Youíll remember that while Joshua engaged Amalek on the field of battle, Moses and Aaron and Hur stood on the hilltop, watching the battle, lifting hands towards heaven, making intercession. As long as the intercession went well so did Israel on the battlefield, and eventually because of the cooperative efforts of the three intercessors the battle was won.
But now notice who gets credit for the victory: "So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword." The soldiers of course! Who else could it have been? They did the actual fighting. Their physical lives were at stake. They were the real doers and risk-takers in the whole matter.
When youíre emphasizing prayer, intercession, and spiritual warfare, donít forget that all the above is of no avail without someone going out and "doing the stuff," as John Wimber used to put it. This important fact is all too often overlooked by modern prayer warriors, and as a result, the expected fruit fails to materialize, and faith in spiritual warfare and intercession is slowly eroded. Spiritual warfare is a two-edged sword: praying and doing. Praying without doing leads to self-centered pseudo-spirituality and vain mysticism; doing without praying can lead to works of the flesh, human achievements without the anointing of God on them.
It does no good at all to sit in your prayer closet and bind demons unless you follow up on that binding by going out and actually addressing the people or needs youíre praying about. By all means pray for someone to get saved, bind any resisting spirits when thatís applicable, but then go out and share the gospel with them! In recent years weíve seen a growing emphasis on gathering together in huge auditoriums to pray for cities and engage in spiritual warfare together, and thatís healthy and needed. But all the big-name speakers, international intercessors, church participation, and singing, worshiping, and shouting at demonic principalities will do no good at all unless you send an army of Joshuas out at the same time. Someone has to go out and do the stuff.
Jesus didnít sit in Nazareth and bind demons from his prayer closet. He prayed each morning, engaging in intense spiritual warfare among other things; then He went out among the people preaching the gospel, healing the sick, and casting out demons. Winning this battle against darkness is not a matter of vocalizing at demons from afar, but of meeting them face to face and casting them out, tearing their victims out of their grasp, and winning them to Jesus. The work of the three elders on the hill was crucial, but if Joshua and his warriors hadnít been out there doing battle the Amalekites would have overrun the camp and killed Moses and his prayer partners along with everybody else. It was Joshua who overwhelmed Amalek with the edge of the sword, and itís the Joshuas of today who are still winning the battles. Be a doer and a fighter, not just a vocalizer.
Day 91: Jethro and the Nominals
Now Jethro, the priest of Midian, Mosesí father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for Israel His people, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.
Mosesí father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian, is a curious character. There is very little said about the Midianites in the Bible, for that matter. We do know that they were descendants of none other than Abraham himself, as Midian was the fourth son of Keturah, Abrahamís second wife. Isaac had received the birthright and the majority of his fatherís inheritance; Abraham had sent all of the other sons to the east after giving them settlements of some kind. Later Midianite traders appear as the ones who took Joseph from his brothers and sold him into slavery in Egypt.
Jethro is the next Midianite we find. Heís apparently a leader among this nomadic tribe, and a priest at that. Most likely the Midianites worshipped the God of Abraham in some way or another, so it was not totally out of the question for Moses to marry one. However, they did not practice the rite of circumcision (see Ex 4:25), so they did not understand the faith covenant as they should have.
Jethro came to believe and understand more about his own God as a result of the mighty deliverance given to the Israelites from Egypt. "Blessed be the Lord who delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and the hand of Pharaoh," he told his son-in-law, "Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods." (Ex 18:10-11)
Nominal believers can often be drawn closer to God by seeing His care and power toward His people. If you constantly scold them for their lukewarmness and apathy and lack of application of the things of the Lord, youíre likely to meet a solid wall of resistance. They get their defenses up and canít be budged. If you just go along with them in their lukewarmness, as Moses did initially with his inlaws, youíll have no real effect on them, and you may be dragged down by them and spend years yourself on the backside of a spiritual wilderness. But if you can show them the hand of God in action, they may be shaken out of their slumber and start taking the Lord seriously.
The key to understanding nominal Christians is that they believe in God but not very much. Heís not really an integral part of their lives. They get to church as often as is convenient, but theyíve developed a lifestyle independent of God. And as they distance themselves from Him the reality of His existence fades, their faith wanes, and they become believers in name onlyóthatís what nominal means.
Seeing the Living God in action, however Ė healing the sick, doing miracles, coming to the aid of His true servants Ė can galvanize them into active faith. Thatís the way God operated in the days of Moses, of Christ, of Paul, and often throughout history. Thatís the way Heíd like to operate in this lukewarm day in which we live, too. All we need is some Moseses and Israelites who are willing to put him to the test and see His glory. Why donít you and I start today?
All Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Version unless marked otherwise.
Copyright © 2005 Kim Harrington, Masterbuilder Ministries. All rights reserved.