Thursday, October 21, 2010

OTC Day 32: Exodus 17-18

Life is a struggle. Sin strangles us. Disappointment crushes us. People let us down. Sometimes it’s hard to just put one foot in front of the other.

How do we respond? Usually, we respond by trying to solve it on our own. We watch Rocky, Gladiator, or Braveheart, get all pumped up and try to do it ourselves. Another response is to curl in a fetal position and wait for Jesus to come back. Neither one is the right call.

God gives victory, but we have to fight.

God visibly teaches this to Moses and Israel. They are attacked by the Amalekites. God doesn’t intervene and strike the Amalekites dead. Instead, the Israelites have to fight. They don’t fight alone though - God is fighting for them and through them. God’s involvement is obvious because when Moses raises the staff of God, they win. When he lowers the staff, they lose. There is a difference between fighting with God on your side and fighting on your own.

This passage is not about finding a “magic stick.” Instead, it’s about recognizing God and His presence in our lives. When faced with trouble, He doesn’t expect us to wave some wood in the air. He does expect us to acknowledge Him in everything that we do.

We accomplish that through prayer. Paul says, ““I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone . . . I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer . . . “ (1 Timothy 2:1; 8). When we pray, we surrender to God and ask Him to fight for us.

We need God but we also need others. The Israelites would have never won if Moses stood alone. He got tired and gave out. Aaron and Hur were an essential part of the victory. Many of us fall because there is no one with us. We fight alone and no one is there when we need help.

One reason we fight alone is that we think people will let us down. They will! We all fail one another sometimes, but we can’t give up. When Jethro tells Moses that he needs others to help, Moses has to choose from the people who were just complaining against him! There are no perfect people, but if you try to face life on your own, you will struggle. Jethro echoes God’s words about Adam – “It is not good for man to be alone”. (Genesis 2: 18) We need God at our side, but we need other people there too.

1. What does this passage teach about the authority of Moses and God? About stress? Obedience? Trust?

2. What were the key elements to Jethro’s plan (vs. 17-23)? What would have appealed to Moses, and to the people, about delegated leadership? What would have been hard for either one to swallow about this idea?

3. What are the long-term benefits of organizing the church into small groups the way Moses did? What are the pitfalls of doing it that way?

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