-Deuteronomy is Moses’ last instructions to the Israelite people. So he begins, “Remember!” What was it they were to commit to memory?
Deuteronomy 25:17-18 “Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, 18 how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God.
-Amalek was a nationless conglomeration of nomads who lived in a loose-knit society in the Sinai peninsula. And they were a parasite! Theirs was a culture of laziness that shunned honest work in favor of raiding and plundering.
-They lived off the fruit of other people’s labor, stealing from those who’d managed by much sweat to seek a living out of the hard earth. They were robbers and brigands who raided the numerous caravans that traveled the roads from Asia to Egypt and attacked the border towns of the nations around them, then ran away before any real opposition could be raised against them.
-The closest thing we have today to the Amalekites that we can relate to is to think of them as a urban gang.
-They lived in the Sinai peninsula, or what is known as the Negev. This was the area Israel had to pass through in their journey from Egypt to Mt. Sinai.
-The Amalekites saw this as an unbelievable opportunity! A bunch of slaves who have no idea how to defend themselves, they’re loaded down with the wealth of Egypt; remember that the Egyptians had heaped silver and gold on them on Passover night.
-So the Amalekites began to attack Israel; not in a frontal assault; they attacked the stragglers and weary who’d fallen behind when the people were moving.
-The battle was fierce, but Israel eventually won, her victory secured by the prayers of Moses who was assisted by Aaron and Hur. But Amalek was not destroyed. They simply retreated to their hiding places in the wilderness where they nursed their wounds and renewed their numbers – waiting for another opportunity to once again harass Israel.
– Moses knew the Amalekites would be a perennial thorn in Israel’s side and that if something was not done to end it, she could well prove to be Israel’s undoing.
-So he said to them . . .
Deuteronomy 25:19 Therefore it shall be, when the Lord our God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.
-The nation has an assignment. Once they’ve settled in the Promised Land, enjoying the Lord’s blessing, they were to finish what they’d begun at Rephidim; they were to stage a campaign of erasing the outlaw Amalekites.
-This was necessary because it was Amalek’s unalterable nature to harass Israel. As long as even one Amalekite lived, Israel’s entire safety would be in jeopardy.
-I realize that sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s literally true. In the book of Esther we read of a man named Haman who persuaded the King of Persia to pass an edict allowing for the people of the empire to attack and kill any and all Jews.
-Haman, it turns out, was an Amalekite! One man came that close to being the cause of the death of every Jew in the Persian Empire.
-Moses understood the danger the Amalekites posed and urged Israel to not forget their need to move against them in a determined action to end their threat.
-So, what happened?
-During the time of the Judges, Amalek recovered enough strength to once again begin nibbling at the edges of Israel. They became bolder and bolder until Samuel, the last Judge, handed the first king of Israel, Saul, the task of carrying out Moses’ assignment to wipe out Amalek.
-But Saul didn’t follow orders. Samuel had made it clear they were to destroy everything even down to the last toothpick; but Saul decided to allow his army to keep what spoils they wanted and as a trophy of his victory, he kept Agag, the King of the Amalekites alive.
-Samuel was furious at Saul’s blatant disobedience, Israel was still in danger and only time would tell how the Amalekites would once again return to imperil the nation.
– Saul learned the hard way how far-reaching the consequences of his disobedience would reach; because of his rebellion against God in this thing with the Amalekites, God rejected him as king and gave the throne to David.
– Saul, now bereft of the anointing and protection of God suffered a humiliating defeat in battle with the Philistines.
-In his last minutes on Mt. Gilboa, wounded by arrows, his beloved son Jonathan lying dead at his feet, Saul wanted to commit suicide lest he fall into the enemy’s hands and suffer the humiliation of capture. He figured it would be better to die in battle than be taken prisoner.
-When his armor bearer wouldn’t oblige, he found another willing hand . . .
In 2 Samuel 1 we read,
2 . . . it happened that a man came from Saul’s camp with his clothes torn and dust on his head. So it was, when he came to David, that he fell to the ground and prostrated himself. 3 And David said to him, “Where have you come from?” So he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.” 4 Then David said to him, “How did the matter go? Please tell me.” And he answered, “The people have fled from the battle, many of the people are fallen and dead, and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead also.” 5 So David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and Jonathan his son are dead?” 6 Then the young man who told him said, “As I happened by chance to be on Mount Gilboa, there was Saul, leaning on his spear; and indeed the chariots and horsemen followed hard after him. 7 Now when he looked behind him, he saw me and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ 8 And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ So I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ 9 He said to me again, ‘Please stand over me and kill me, for anguish has come upon me, but my life still remains in me.’ 10 So I stood over him and killed him,
-Because Saul did not make an end of the Amalekites, an Amalekite made an end of Saul.
-Because Israel did not obey God and make an end of Amalek, in Esther’s day, Amalek came a hair’s breadth from being the end of Israel.
-These stories are not only recountings of actual historical events, they’re also clear examples for us of our spiritual walk. As 1 Corinthians 10 makes clear, the experiences of Israel from the Exodus to the Promised Land paint a picture of our spiritual journey.
-So what does Amalek represent? What parallel is there between the Amalekites and our experience?
-Amalek speaks of those little sins that nibble round the edge of our lives. They aren’t the big sins that we gain quick victory over when we first come to Christ, they’re the lesser things, the smaller temptations that don’t seem all that bad in comparison to the major sins God delivers us from.
-For the guy who’s been delivered from drugs and alcohol, lust doesn’t seem like such a big deal; after all, he rationalizes, he’s a guy, and guys are wired that way, everybody does it. Maybe one day, he’ll take more concerted action against lust, but for now, it seems like no big deal.
-For the woman who’s been delivered from immorality, envy seems so petty; and besides, it’s so easily hidden. She thinks, “So I find myself envying others ever now and then. So what? At least I’m not promiscuous anymore. I’m not perfect and no one can expect me to be. I know I shouldn’t be jealous but I’ll worry about dealing with that later.”
-These temptations are like a persistent gnat that buzzes round your head and won’t leave you alone. At first you hardly pay it any mind. Then you half-heartedly bat at it. Eventually, it pesters you enough that you stop & make a determined effort to swat it and you think, “Good, Got it! Gone.”
-That’s what Joshua and Israel thought they’d done to Amalek at Rephidim in the Exodus; but Amalek wasn’t destroyed, just defeated.
-Listen to me, there’s something you need to know about your spiritual adversary, satan: He doesn’t give up! Just because he’s experienced a defeat, he doesn’t throw in the towel.
-No, he’s clever; subtle. He retreats just as Amalek did, because Amalek is a picture of this strategy of the devil – that’s the whole point here folks.
-Amalek retreated, forfeiting the battle at Rephidim, but not yielding the war with Israel. Israel made the mistake of thinking one battle was the war, and confident in their victory, they weren’t prepared when Amalek regrouped and renewed their assault.
-In the same way, the enemy of your soul will back off for a time, using peace as a tool to seduce you to inattention; and when you’re unprepared, he’ll renew his assault.
-Suddenly you’ll find that gnat back again, only this time it’s bigger and more persistent.
-What a potent picture of our adversary and this strategy he uses, not to assault us with a full-frontal spiritual attack, but with seemingly little temptations that just nibble round the edges of our moral lives.
-We don’t really pay them all that much attention because to be frank, they don’t seem that, well, big of a deal. So what if we shade the truth every once in a while; everyone does it. So what if we cheat here and there, who doesn’t?
-Sure pride, envy, lust, coveting, being critical or fearful, aren’t right; but at least they’re not hurting anyone, right?
-Christians, we need to realize if we don’t move with direct intent to end these things, these little things, they will end up being the very things that destroy us. They are spiritual mosquitoes that carry death.
-Eventually the Holy Spirit convicts us about our need to deal with these little sins and we repent and take action to end them. But the appeal comes to compromise, to end the obvious ways the sin manifests itself, but to allow it to live on in one corner of our inner life; drawing occasional comfort from it.
-The woman whose sin of envy manifested itself in gossip stops spreading stories about others, but she carries on an inner conversation of character assassination within her own heart.
-The man whose lust was manifested in using pornography stops his use of such material but retreats to an inner fantasy that continues to pollute his mind.
-All who do such need to learn the lesson Saul teaches – be sure your sin will find you out. The sin you think is so well hidden and that you can coddle and draw comfort from, even now the devil is working to expose in a very public way.
-Like Saul wanted to use the Amalekite king as a trophy of his victory, Satan wants to turn you into a trophy of his!
-Do what Samuel did with Agag that day – end it, here, now! Put the Sword of the Spirit to that thing that’s been nibbling at the edge of your soul, that thing that’s been plundering your joy and peace in the Lord.
-Moses gave Israel a simple & clear assignment. Wipe out Amalek. Israel faltered in carrying to completion what Moses said, and as a result, because Israel didn’t end the Amalekites, the Amalekites nearly ended Israel.
-Saul, who compromised with the Amalekites and let some escape paid the ultimate price and died at the hands of one.
-It’s the nature of sin to grow and gain power, Amalek teaches us that truth.
-That sin that seems like little more than a tiny pest today, if not ended now will turn into a full-grown warrior with a sword in hand and a point in your very soul.