John A. MacMillan

B. Childress
Feb 04 2012

In the arid desert nothing is so vital as a supply of water.  Sore conflicts frequently take place between the wandering
tribes over the possession of a well or spring (see Genesis 26:18ff).  It is not surprising, therefore, that the right of the
people of Israel to the living streams of Rephidim was speedily contested.  The fierce tribesmen of Amalek sought to
drive them away, that they themselves might enjoy the abundance of this new oasis.  Skilled warriors, trained in desert
fighting, they were far more than a match for the recently liberated slaves of Pharaoh.  Yet, untried as the Israelites
were in warfare (Exodus 13:17), they must lay hold of spear and buckler and defend their heaven-bestowed blessings.  
The battle in itself was a hopeless one for Israel.  Wherever divine interference lessened, as the weary hands of Moses
drooped, "Amalek prevailed."  There was no natural ability in Israel to conquer; their victory came alone through the
power of that Spiritual Rock that followed them.

One of the hard lessons that must be learned by every seeker after the deeper life in Christ is that each new
appropriation of heavenly grace and knowledge brings him often into a more subtle conflict.  In the early stages of the
Christian life, when abounding peace and joy have come in to fill the heart and the gladness of the Lord brightens all
about him, his feet are "like hinds' feet," and he feels as if he were permanently established upon the spiritual "high
places" (Habakkuk 3:19).  But, ere long, he finds himself treading the Valley of Humiliation, where Apollyon must be
faced, and passing thence to the dread experiences of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, where the evil ones press
hard, temptation assails with crushing force and faith's contest with discouragement seems often a losing one.

Our Unseen Foes

As still further advancement in the knowledge of the Lord is given through the opening of the eyes of his understanding
and he finds that he had been "blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3)
there comes the startling realization that the very heavenly places into which he has been introduced are the habitat of
the powers of darkness.  His acceptance of his seat with Christ Jesus (2:6), "far above all principality, and power, and
might, and dominion" (1:21), provides him with authority and power for full victory so long as he maintains his place,
wearing the defensive armor and wielding the offensive weapons.  But, unless at this stage of progress, there is
received clear instruction as to the divine provision for overcoming, he is liable to spend many months or even years of
fruitless struggle and defeat.

Nor can any believer escape this conflict so long as he resolutely presses forward in the pursuit of true holiness and
effective ministry.  It is part of the training of the Lord's overcoming people.  In the kingdom age, Christ has planned that
they shall reign with Him from the heavenly places over the earth.  It is consequently not strange that the principalities
and powers who are to be dispossessed of the seats of authority now occupied by themselves should savagely resist
their own displacement.  These spiritual enemies oppose every forward step of the overcomer; they will seek to confuse
his mind, sometimes drawing him into error or into extravagance in doctrine.  They may even attack him in body, in
circumstances or through his family or friends.

This has been their method in every age, as illustrated in the march of the hosts of Israel toward the Promised Land.  
Among the children of Israel the powers of darkness subtly introduced "many foolish and hurtful lusts"; they sought to
seduce them by the incoming of idolatry and fornication from the nations around; they incited them to murmuring and
distrust of the providence of Jehovah; or they openly and fiercely attacked them, as through the Amalekites.  In the
same manner today, by both inward and outward means, "the wiles of the devil" are directed to the rendering fruitless of
the life and service of the individual Christian and of the aggressive Church.

Many an earnest pastor weeps before the Lord because of coldness or disunion in his congregation.  The successful
evangelist is disturbed by some deadening influence creeping into the atmosphere of his meetings, by which his liberty
of spirit is hampered, and by which souls are hindered from coming to the Savior.  In many cases prayer does not seem
to touch the difficulty, even when long continued.  Nay, even prayer itself seems to be lifeless and God afar off.  At times
the enemy strikes back swiftly when some special effort is aimed against him.  Workers break down, sickness weakens
the frame, spiritual purpose slackens, and discouragement throws a pall of darkness that depresses every effort for the
Lord.  Such experiences are far from uncommon, as many will testify.

The Authority of the Rod

What is the significance of the rod as it appears in the ministry of Moses?  The usual interpretation is that it symbolizes
prayer.  But there is no mention of prayer in the incident before us and in a somewhat similar case (Exodus 14:15ff), the
lawgiver is sharply told that the time is past for calling on God and that definite action is needed.  There is a richer and
more powerful meaning:
the rod symbolizes the authority of God committed to human hands.  By it the holder is made a
co-ruler with his Lord, sharing His throne-power and reigning with Him.

It is a vision that staggers the faith of many.  But it is a scriptural revelation of divine truth that is repeated in many
places and in many forms.  The overcoming saint is made a king and priest unto God (Revelation 1:6), that he may
reign on the earth (5:10).  He is given authority over the nations (2:26ff), cooperating with the risen Christ.  He sits with
the exalted Lord in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:20), which is the center of the authority of the universe.  In this
position of privilege he is enthroned with Christ "far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and
every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come" (1:21).

This is meant to be a present experience of faith, though its full development will be reached in the age which is before
us.  Let us not dishonor the Word of God that reveals these things by the unbelieving attitude that it means less than it
has clearly stated.

All through the day "until the going down of the sun" (Exodus 17:12), Moses held out the rod over the valley in which
Israel strove with Amalek.  Was he praying?  There is little doubt that his heart was lifted to God in unceasing
supplication for the untrained soldiers of his people.  But his holding out of the rod was a demonstration of the authority
committed to him over the unseen forces which drove forward the Amalekites and which operate behind every battle
(see Daniel 10:13, 20).  Not in the visible but in the invisible lies the secret of success or failure.  Over the spirit foes of
Israel, which sought to thwart the purpose of God and to hold back His people from the land of their inheritance, Moses
exercised the authority vested in him as the representative of Jehovah.  By his sustained resistance to these mighty
principalities and powers, their ability to aid the Amalekites was nullified.  And, as the sun went down, the beaten
tribesmen suddenly withdrew.

The principle holds in every conflict between the people of God and their enemies.  Where redeemed man is
concerned, the Father calls him into ministry of authority with His Son, the rightful Ruler of Earth.  In the Old Testament
some remarkable instances occur, such as that of Joshua at Ajalon (Joshua 10:12) or that of Elijah (I Kings 17:1) where
the prophet boldly declared that "there shall not be dew nor rain these years,
but according to my word."  In those past
ages, however, the authority was limited to a few select souls upon whom the Spirit came for special ministries.  But the
New Testament saints of the heavenly places include all who are raised up with Christ and who have accepted the
death of the cross and the burial of the tomb, that they may attain unto the resurrection of which Paul speaks
(Philippians 3:11).  For them there is a fellowship with the risen Christ in a larger sense than others know.  To them the
powers of darkness yield wherever their authority is exerted.

The Hand upon the Throne

"Jehovah hath sworn," reads the Revised Version.  "Jehovah will have war with Amalek from generation to generation"
(Exodus 17:16).  The first clause is not correctly translated.  "A hand is lifted up upon the throne of Jehovah," the
Hebrew reads.  The lifting up of the hand is a form of affirmation or oath, and from this comes the rendering, Jehovah
hath sworn."  The meaning is to be found in the action of Moses.  Lifting up his hand holding the rod, he took authority
in the name of Jehovah over the foes of God's people.  In his capacity as the representative of Jehovah he was exerting
the authority of the throne when he lifted up his hand.  It was a declaration of divine judgment to be executed upon
Amalek and upon the demon powers who energized those cruel warriors in their enmity against Israel.

So, today, every consecrated hand that lifts the rod of the authority of the Lord against the unseen powers of darkness
is directing the throne power of Christ against Satan and his hosts in a battle that will last until "the going down of the
sun," that is, until life's day is ended.  Paul prayed (Ephesians 1:17) that "the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the
knowledge of him [Christ]" might be granted to the saints to whom he wrote.  Thus would the eyes of their understanding
be opened to see their full relationship to the risen and exalted Christ.


THE AUTHORITY OF THE BELIEVER, by John A. MacMillan, Copyright 2007, WingSpread Publishers.