Bonhoeffer had a terrible decision to make. He was a pacifist Christian, but could choose to be in a plot to kill Hitler. Should he try to take out this man who would otherwise continue to wreak havoc on the world, murdering millions more? And what would you do if you knew someone was going to do terrible things; if you had the power to stop them – permanently – would you?
God knew the Amalekites. This wasn’t going to be a one-off battle in Exodus 17; it was Stage One of their centuries-long plan to wipe out the Israelites as God’s rescue plan for the whole world. As long as the Amalekites existed, they aimed to annihilate this nation that God had chosen to bring his blessing on the world. That is why in Exodus 17:14, Moses was instructed to write it down, and make sure Joshua, the young warrior, knew about it, that the Amalekites were to be opposed with every fibre of their beings. It was not that God had it in for these people, but that they chose to contend against God’s purposes, and had to be dealt with.
And then Moses built an altar (verses 15 and 16). “The Lord is my banner,” he called it. He wanted to draw attention to the fact that God had won the battle, although Joshua and his army had done the fighting. And God had used the prayers of Moses, as his hands had been raised up, communicating with Almighty God on that hilltop, bringing his power into the fight that was being played out in the valley beneath them.
We all have battles. Against sin and wrongdoing, against people who oppose us and our faith, against sickness, fear, and a host of other human problems. Sometimes the struggle is for survival itself. But all of those battles have to be fought on two fronts – firstly we have to pray, and pray, and keep on praying; often with others helping us to hold up our hands in prayer, supporting us. And then there is the doing. Behaving right, speaking out when we need to, doing what must be done, forgiving those we must forgive – but always in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in our own strength alone.
Battles will not fight themselves. And our prayers do make a difference. God appointed Joshua to be aware of the battle with the Amalekites, Which battles does he want you to contend?
Thanks to John Allister for his excellent insights on the Amalekites http://matthiasmedia.com/briefing/2013/08/the-amalekite-genocide