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Exodus 17:8-13 - Homiletics

The uselessness of fighting against God.

Amalek was "the first of the nations" in audacity, in venturesomeness, perhaps in military qualities, but scarcely in prudence or longsightedness. Amalek must precipitate its quarrel with Israel, must "come to Rephidim" and offer battle, instead of letting Israel go. on its own way unmolested, and shunning a contest. They might have known that they were about to fight against God, and that to do so is useless. None can contend with him successfully. It is curious that sinners do not see this. Some of them seem to hope to escape the notice of God; others appear to doubt his power; a few seem to disbelieve in his existence. The uselessness of contending against him would be generally recognised, if men would bear in mind, as most sure—

I. THAT THERE IS A GOD , DESERVING OF THE NAME , THE MAKER AND RULER OF THE UNIVERSE . The disbelief in a Personal God underlies much of the resistance which men offer to his will on earth. They admit an impersonal something external to themselves, which they call "Nature," and speak of as having immutable "laws." These they profess to respect. But the law of righteousness, decreed by a God who is a Person, and written by him in the hearts of his human creatures, is not among these "laws of nature," they think, since in many people it is not found to exist. Neither to this law, nor to the God who made it, do they profess any allegiance. They claim the liberty to do that which is right in their own eyes. But, as surely as they are confounded, if they set themselves in opposition to a law of physical nature—walk on the sea, or handle fire, or seek to fly without wings—so surely does a Nemesis attend their efforts, if they transgress a moral law, be it the law of chastity, or of truth, or of general kindliness, or of special regard for God's day, God's house, God's ministers, God's people. The Amalekites attacked the last, and were overthrown. Final discomfiture will assuredly overtake all who attack anything that is God's or in any way set themselves in opposition to his will.

II. THAT GOD IS REALLY OMNIPOTENT . It often pleases God to allow for a time the contradiction of sinners against himself, and even to let the ungodly enjoy a long term of worldly prosperity. Some of the worst men have prospered during their whole lives, and have died at the height of earthly greatness, self-satisfied, so far as men could see, happy. Men have questioned whether God, if really onmipotent, could have allowed this, and have doubted his ability to carry on a real moral government of the entire universe. But omnipotence is included in the very idea of God; and it is quite inconceivable that any of his creatures should be really able to thwart or resist him further than he himself permits. Their very existence depends on him, and unless he sustained them in being, they would perish at each moment. He temporarily allows the opposition of other wills to his, not through any defect of power, but for his own wise purposes. Some time or other he will vindicate himself, and show forth his Almighty power, to the utter confusion of his enemies.

III. THAT GOD IS ALSO OMNISCIENT . The Psalmist tells us ( Psalms 73:11 ) of those who said—"Tush, how should God perceive? Is there knowledge in the Most High?" and, again, "God hath forgotten; he hideth away his face, and he will never see it" ( Psalms 10:11 ). These are bold utterances, such as men scarcely make nowadays; but still there are many who in their inmost heart seem to cherish the Epicurean notion, "Deos securum agere oevum," that the Divinity does not care for what men do, or that, at any rate, words or thoughts are beyond his cognisance. He, however, himself declares the contrary. "For every idle word that men shall speak they shall give account." "Thou knowest the very secrets of the heart." "All things are open and revealed unto him with whom we have to do." We cannot resist him secretly or without his knowledge. He knows all our words, and all our thoughts, as well as all our acts, "long before." We cannot take him by surprise and gain an advantage over him. There is not a word in our mouth, or a thought in our heart, but he "knows it altogether"—has always known it, and has provided accordingly. If we were "wise," if we were even moderately prudent, we should give up the idea of resisting God. Instead of "raging" and "imagining vain things"—instead of "taking counsel together against the Lord and against his Anointed"—instead of seeking to "break their bands asunder and cast away their cords from us" ( Psalms 2:1-3 ), we should submit ourselves—we should be content to "serve the Lord with fear and rejoice unto Him with reverence"—we should "kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and so we perish from the right way, if his wrath be kindled, yea, but a little"—we should "take his yoke upon us, and learn of him"—satisfied that in no other way can we prosper, in no other way can we obtain rest, or peace, or happiness.

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