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heavenly Father can be sent to destroy us. Can God be pleased to mar his own best work, the spiritual temple of the Holy Ghost? Can He who has borne with us so long, now change his purposes of love towards believing, praying, obedient children? Failures, infirmities, sins, no doubt we have had, many and great; but none, if we are the true children of God, of which we have not repented; none which we have not steadily and perseveringly striven to forsake; none which we have not oftentimes brought, in solemn heart-felt prayer, to a throne of
grace, and sought to obtain cleansing for them in the blood of Jesus. Let us, then, be of good cheer, such disciples do not perish; such characters will surround the throne; such fearful, desponding, imperfect beings as ourselves, when perfected in the Saviour, and clothed in the garments of his spotless righteousness, shall fill the courts of heaven.
CHAP. xvii. 8–16.
8. Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidin.
9. And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to-morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
10. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of tho hill.
11. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12. But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
14. And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
15. And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it JEHOVAH-nissi:
16. For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
We have now to contemplate the children of Israel in a new character, namely, that of warriors, in which, they were afterwards to be so greatly and wonderfully distinguished. Their first enemy was Amalek, the descendant, indeed the grandson of Esau. He appears to have inherited his progenitor's enmity to Israel, and to have seized this earliest opportunity of renewing the family feud. As this was Israel's first battle, it is natural to conclude, that the Almighty would employ it as an occasion for teaching them where their “great strength lay.” Accordingly, we find that Moses does not go forth himself to the conflict, but deputes Joshua to lead a chosen band against Amalek, while Moses retires to the summit of an adjoining eminence with Aaron and Hur. There, in the sight of the whole assembled thousands of Israel, as well those who went forth to the battle, as those who remained in the camp, Moses stretched forth the wonder-working rod, and lifting up his hands, (the well-known attitude of prayer,) plainly demonstrated to all, that they must expect to triumph, “not by
power, not by might, but by the Spirit of the Lord.” And lest the dullest or most indifferent
them should overlook or mistake the symbol, the varying phases of the battle took their colouring, not from the valour of the combatants in the field, but from the perseverance of the man of prayer on the hill. “It came to pass when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.” How striking and impressive a symbol! How many an Israelite, in the very heat of the conflict, finding the tide of battle turning against him, would look wistfully to the hill, and seeing the hands of their leader drooping from fatigue and knowing that his intercessions were suspended, would feel, Alas! how vain our utmost efforts; success is but from on high; if that fail, all will fail us; would that Moses may yet have strength to pray
But observe yet again the goodness of God, meeting and overcoming the infirmity of his creatures. When the hands of Moses grew heavy, so that farther help from him was almost hopeless, the Almighty permits Aaron and Hur to stay up his hands, the one on the one side, the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the
And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.” How invaluable a lesson to the hosts of Israel! Prayer, all-prevailing prayer, is presented almost bodily before them; like children, they are taught by a symbol so palpable, that none could overlook it, that in every future conflict, whether with their spiritual or natural enemies, their refuge is in prayer: that in themselves, they are poor, weak, helpless, but that in their God they are strong, rich, invincible. While, again, as Israelites, how must it have exalted their opinion of their leader Moses, to have beheld him thus deciding battles with a prayer, and, as their great progenitor, “like a prince having power with God and man, and prevailing.” Surely, after such a display of his influence with the Almighty, they would never again murmur at his commands or doubt his ability.
The Christian, however, cannot dwell upon such a passage of Holy Writ, without finding his mind continually revert to his own far more happy condition, and far more powerful Intercessor. When he reads, " And the hands of Moses were heavy,' » his heart turns with gratitude to Him, of whom it is declared, that “He ever liveth to make intercession for him, whose hands are never heavy, and whose petitions never cease. Dwelling upon the thought of such an Intercessor, the heart of the Christian feels, 'if in the midst of my darkest conflict, perhaps that which may possibly shadow my closing scene, when my own tongue shall be speechless, and my mind have lost its power, if my gracious intercessor were then to fail me, how fatal would be the result! my soul's great enemy might succeed, and I still might perish. Blessed be God for the certainty that my Intercessor is divine; were he the highest of saints, the most glorious of archangels, the first and brightest of created intelligences, still I should fear; the hour may come, the trembling heart would say, when his hands will be heavy, and his intercessions end; but now, at once
my Saviour, Intercessor, God, such an event is absolutely impossible; I will not, cannot fear it.' Never shall this blessed employment know one moment's intermission, until, in the language of our Church, it has pleased Him to accomplish the number of his elect," and to bring the last and latest of his sheep within the safe enclosure of the heavenly fold. Then, indeed, shall every intercession finish, since then there will be an end of sin, and there will be none for whom to intercede. That awful period will arrive, so strikingly alluded to by the apostle, when
" Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power. For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet. Then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.”*
CHAP. xviii. 1-12.
1. When Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard all that God had done for Moses, and for Israel his people, and that the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt;
2. Then Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moses' wife, after he had sent her back,
* 1 Cor. xv. 24, 25, 27.