There are two more words left to explore here in Exodus 17. We’ve been camped in this same chapter for 14 days straight! I’m going to cut and paste long sections of Isaiah and Genesis, so we can see the full context of how these words are used.
When Joshua “overwhelms” Amalek, down there in the valley of the shadow of death, the Hebrew word used is ‘chalash’. This word is used only three times in Scripture, and when more common words could have been chosen, it’s always instructive to look at the other usages, to see what dots we are supposed to connect.
For example, in Job 14:10, ‘chalash’ is translated as ‘laid low’—referring to being buried in a grave, laying low in sheol.
In Isaiah 14:11-15, the theory that Amalek is a key type of Satanic “spirit” is confirmed—the 3rd and final use of ‘chalash’ is in verse 14, but this entire prophecy contains the true context of how “low” low can be. The direct context is the end of Babylon in the last days, after Israel (we) are settled into the Promised Land for the 1000 year reign, but it’s also about the final defeat of all evil forever.
“Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, the sound of your harps; maggots are laid as a bed beneath you, and worms are your covers. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north, I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.”
In a very stark contrast, “Gibah” is the word for ‘hill’ used in Exodus 17:9-10. It’s only used these two times in all of Exodus, so again—it’s carefully employed for a specific reason. “Gibah” is first used in the blessing of Joseph in Genesis 49:22 as “everlasting hills”. Remember that Joshua is a direct descendant of Joseph—Joseph’s body was brought with them out of Egypt and is being carried around by the Israelites at this point in the narrative!
“Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; his branches run over the wall. The archers bitterly attacked him, shot at him, and harassed him severely, yet his bow remained unmoved; his arms were made agile by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), by the God of your father who will help you, by the Almighty who will bless you with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that crouches beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of your father are mighty beyond the blessings of my parents, up to the bounties of the everlasting hills. May they be on the head of Joseph, and on the brow of him who was set apart from his brothers.”
But, watch what happens when Israel, those who are supposed to be journeying to the highest of hills, choose to step off of The Way, and so sink low into the valley. The language chosen, “write in on a tablet”, “The Way”, “repent”, “rest”, “a banner on a hill”… these are all call-backs to what we’ve been studying for the past four weeks. Isaiah was using Exodus 17 as his source text for his Prophecy.
Isaiah 30:8-17: “Now go, write it before them on a tablet, and note it on a scroll, that it may be for time to come, forever and ever: that this is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of YHWH; who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits. Get out of the way, turn aside from the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.” Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel: “Because you despise this word, and trust in oppression and perversity, and rely on them, therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach ready to fall, a bulge in a high wall, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant. and He shall break it like the breaking of the potter’s vessel, which is broken in pieces; he shall not spare. so there shall not be found among its fragments a shard to take fire from the hearth, or to take water from the cistern.” For thus says the Adonai YHWH, the Holy One of Israel: “Through repentance and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” But you would not, and you said, “No, for we will flee on horses”— Therefore you shall flee! And, “We will ride on swift horses”— Therefore those who pursue you shall be swift! One thousand shall flee at the threat of one, at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left as a pole on top of a mountain and as a banner on a hill.”
When Israel behaves like Amalek we risk sharing their same fate. Our faith is measured by our behavior, not through our knowledge of scripture, not through a “sinners prayer” said once upon a time, not on a “curve” compared to others who call themselves believers. The blessings of faithful obedience will grow into obvious and abundant fruit, but despising His Word guarantees bad fruit in our lives, plus us a place with Amalek in the end.
James 2:14, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?”
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:21-23)
Starting tomorrow, we’ll look at one of the greatest tools YHWH gives Israel to encourage, sustain, and guide us on The Way–a healthy and Holy community.