Genesis 33-35 / Matthew 10:1-20
“[Moses] said, ‘Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the LORD, the LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.’” Exodus 17:16
Compared to the massive Canaanite armies or the might of the Philistines, we may not think of the Amalekites as one of Israel’s most threatening foes. Why, then, is this the enemy God declares He will be at war with for generations?
One possible reason is the Amalekites are closely related to the Israelites. The Israelites were descendants of Jacob, while the Amalekites were descendants of Esau. As the firstborn of the twins, Esau was entitled to a birthright and a special blessing from his father, Isaac, but Jacob was a trickster who cheated his brother out of both the blessing and his birthright. When Esau returned from a hunt famished, Jacob lured him into trading his birthright for a bowl of stew. Jacob then tricked his blind father into giving him the blessing that rightfully belonged to Esau.
We may find it odd that God was willing to allow His chosen line to be transferred through deceit, but Jacob eventually humbled himself before God and submitted to His authority. Esau, however, is portrayed as a tough, proud man; a hunter who thought he could provide for himself without the crutches of birthrights and blessings. As a result, a streak of self-sufficiency and antagonism towards God and His people carried over into Esau’s descendants. This makes the Amalekites not just another external enemy, but an enemy that came from within the chosen family.
A spiritual principle can be drawn from this. The biggest enemy we face in the Christian life is not out there somewhere, but starts within us. The Amalekites are a picture of what Paul calls “the flesh”; that is, our natural selves in opposition to God. Like the Amalekites, the flesh is actually an enemy within us that should be under the blessing of God, but resists. As a Christian, Christ comes to live in us by His Holy Spirit, but the desires of the flesh remain and are constantly warring with the Spirit.
The Amalekite threat did not end after the battle in which Moses held the staff of God in the air. About 400 years later, it was an Amalekite who claimed to have killed King Saul and centuries later, Herod, an Amalekite descendant, was one of the most evil kings to reign in Judah. If the devil were to die tonight, the sinful nature – the Amalekite within us – would still be alive and active. We cannot fight the battle of sin and temptation on our own, which is why we need to safeguard against the self-sufficiency of Esau and humbly submit to Christ, allowing Him to be our strength and protector from all that wages war against the Spirit.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I trust You as the source of my strength to resist the Amalekite within me, knowing You have already won the victory over temptation and sin. Thank You, Lord.