Victory at Rephidim

The Bible is the revelation of Jesus Christ (John 5:39 - 40, John 5:46 - 47, John 20:30 - 31, Colossians 2:16 - 17).

A quick scan of various articles and sermons about Israel’s victory over the Amalekites at Rephidim (Exodus 17:8 - 13) reveals a disturbing pattern.

This historical narrative has been interpreted (as is often the case) with a view to ourselves and not to Jesus Christ.

A common conclusion drawn from this passage is that you need support in your ministry, especially in the hard times. Just as Aaron and Hur supported Moses when he was struggling, so we need support when we are struggling.

Now, this isn’t wrong per se, but this passage does not teach that point at all.

The Bible is not a leadership training course, it is the revelation of Jesus Christ.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at the passage:

Amalek came and attacked Israel in Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, Choose some of our men and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”

So Joshua fought against Amalek just as Moses had instructed him, and Moses and Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses would raise his hands, then Israel prevailed, but whenever he would rest his hands, then Amalek prevailed. When the hands of Moses became heavy, they took a stone and put it under him, and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side and one on the other, and so his hands were steady until the sun went down. So Joshua destroyed Amalek and his army with the sword.

Exodus 17:8 - 13

I’m excited to unpack this.

Cross and Hill

At the beginning of this narrative, Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill to watch over Joshua and the Israelites as they fought against Amalek. Moses also was carrying the staff of God (which was made from wood).

Now, where was Jesus Christ crucified? On the hill of Calvary (Golgotha)! And what was the cross he was crucified on made from? Wood!

You can see right away two parallels to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This historical narrative is weaving together a tapestry in which a picture of Jesus Christ on the cross is displayed.

Let’s continue.

Christ Crucified

In the middle of the narrative, Moses had to keep his hands raised for Israel to prevail in the battle with Amalek. If his hands lowered, Amalek began to prevail.

How was a person crucified? With their arms outstretched and hands raised! Moses’ action of raising his hands pictures Jesus Christ’s hands being nailed to the cross, outstretched and raised.

When Moses could no longer raise his hands by himself, Aaron and Hur came and supported his arms, ensuring that Israel would prevail over Amalek.

Aaron and Hur stood, one on each side of Moses, just as the two criminals were crucified next to Jesus, one on each side (Luke 23:32 - 33).

Darkness and Victory

At the end of the narrative, we have the triumphal conclusion to the battle. Moses’ arms were held steady by Aaron and Hur until the sun went down when Joshua destroyed Amalek and saved Israel.

Jesus Christ died around 3pm, but from 12pm to 3pm, darkness was over the land (Matthew 27:45 - 50). Just as Israel was not victorious over Amalek until the sun went down, Jesus Christ was not victorious over sin until darkness was over the land.

Mediator and King

Moses acted as a mediator between God and Israel so that God would save Israel from their enemy. Joshua was at the forefront of the battle, ensuring the defeat of Israel’s foe.

Jesus Christ is our mediator, interceding on our behalf before God for our sins (1 Timothy 2:5 - 6, Hebrews 7:22 - 25). He is also our king who fought against sin, death, and the devil, defeating them all in glorious victory (Revelation 19:11 - 21, Hebrews 9:23 - 28).

It’s All About Jesus

What a magnificent narrative!

It’s easy to read ourselves into the biblical text, but the Bible is so much better than that!

When we read the Bible as the revelation of Jesus Christ we see the true richness and beauty of God’s word. This is not a moral guide, a leadership course, or a self-help book. This is the revelation of Jesus Christ.

The next time you read the Bible, keep Jesus Christ at the forefront of your mind. See how the passage you are reading connects to him and the salvation he wrought for us on the cross.

Jesus Christ was crucified for you.