【Bible Study】Exodus 17: God Is My Banner, God Is My Victory

Pastor Samuel Sharing

Brother William Sharing

Bible Study: Exodus


Good morning, everyone. Today we are going to look at Exodus Chapter 17. This is one of the exciting chapters and the main topic, what Moses was trying to tell us through the chapter, is God the Lord is our banner. You know, "the Lord is our banner" doesn't seem to be that direct. I will say that God is our victory. Banner is the flag so I would say God is my victory. This is a lot more straightforward.

This story actually is moving forward now compared to the previous chapter. In the last chapter, the Israelites were talking about food. If you don't have the food, then your life would be threatened. This time, when the Israelites did not have water to drink, do you know what happened?

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. (Exodus 17:1 )

In the desert, they were moving from place to place and they would ask: "What are we doing? Come on, why are we moving from place to place? This place is not so different from the other places. Why do we keep moving? Each one of us is carrying a big burden of 40 KG."They didn't have trucks to help them carry the luggage; they didn't have many tools with them to ease the difficulties in the journey. Yet they had to travel from place to place as the Lord commanded. People would start to say "What to do?"When they were told: "Let's go". They had to go! "Let's stop!"They had to stop! "Let's pitch a tent!" They had to do so.

Sometimes they might come to places where there was water and food in place, but God told them to move. When they moved to the place called Rephidim, where there was no water, they were told to stay there. The Israelites started to question why they were commanded to stay there as there was no water in this place. People were thirsty. They had run out of water not for one hour or two hours, but for one or two days. Do you know the feeling of no water in your throat? It may feel like smoking! There could be smoke coming out of their throat. No water to drink! If you and I faced the same situation, what would you do?

God was training Israelites

They didn't understand what the Lord was doing. They also didn't understand what Moses was doing. They thought they were led to die. Do you don't know what they cared about? "We are moving from place to place. There was water in the previous place but now there is no water in this place. How stupid you are! Hey, come on Moses."Do you understand? If you say you do, I will salute you. Because I don't understand what the Israelites were thinking.

Why is that so? Why were they moving to the desert? From one place to another and somehow moving to a place where there was no water?

Let me tell you why. There were about 3 million people in the group. That was a huge group of people. When there was no water, people would gang up and they would start to shout. You know, the Bible says they wanted to stone Moses.

Then Moses cried out to the LORD, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.” (Exodus 17:4 )

Can you imagine? Someone said his throat was burning with smoke coming out of it. I also have a problem understanding, to be honest, and if I'm not leading the Bible study, I would say it is quite challenging to find out the real meaning.

Because I am the one who is leading the Bible study, I got to tell you the real meaning. To be honest, this is the training. This is the training to train the people to overcome the stupid feeling, the carnal feeling.

The Carnal Feeling Is Our Enemy

Our enemy is our flesh! Our enemy is our carnal inner drive! Yes, you do have that feeling, but do you live on it? Do you live on the water? Do you live on food? Do you live for food? Do you live for the water? If you don't, then what do you live for?

In the previous chapter, we were talking about what we live for. We are fed by God. Now I tell you why God is doing the training. In this training, could Israelites do something different rather than wanting to stone Moses? They wanted to stone Moses.

You can paint a picture like this: There were thousands upon thousands of people, each one carrying a big stone the size of a brick. Some of them used to be slaves in Egypt. They might not have the brain to trust the Lord, but they did have the muscle to carry a stone. Some of them even had big tattoos on their muscles. As you can imagine, there are a lot of muscles in big fights. There were thousands of these people.

Can you imagine the kind of situation where Moses was standing down there and thousands of people were surrounding him each one carrying a stone? Oh my God! That was so scary if you were to be Moses. Probably you would be really scared of the people.

This was the situation where everyone's throat was burning and demanded where the water was. This probably was not the first time, as previously they ran out of water for one hour before they started to tell Moses that they were running out of water. They ran out of water for another hour, for one day, and then another day, and then told Moses that they had been running out of water for one day already, then two days. "I have a baby and he needs milk. The baby is crying. Can you hear that or not?"Oh my God, that's a horrible situation, but this is a real situation.

You and I sometimes face a situation like this and somehow God leads us into a place where there is no water supply. That could cause different reactions. What is your reaction? Can you imagine your reaction? Training is training. If you join the Army, you will go through tough training. Every Army has tough training. Do you want to lose your life on a battlefield? If you don't, you'd better train yourself in the training field. Either you are trained in your training field or you are not trained but die on the battlefield. And this is life.

But remember, God is my banner! God is my victory! In the previous chapter, God used his mighty hand to lead us out of Egypt and defeated the Pharaoh and the Egyptians, the mightiest army in the world at that time. God opened the Red Sea and allowed the Israelites to march over the Red Sea like walking over the dry land. This is the power of God!

Crying out to God is the way to overcome the carnal feeling

In the previous chapters, the Israelites people had experienced the power of God so many times. Then what is your choice this time? Do you want to start to grumble? Do you want to be murmuring again? Do you want to complain again? Or do you want to take up the challenge? This time, you can say: "God, I want to take up the challenge. Yes, my throat is burning; Moses' throat is burning; Joshua's throat is burning. But we can take on challenges."

Let me tell you now: the more carnal you are, the stronger the feelings are. When I set people free, they often have that kind of feeling: They become so thirsty that they want to drink water. Then do you know what I tell them? I tell them: "The thirsty feeling does not come from your own, it comes from the devil." When we pray, before the devil leaves, they generate all kinds of feelings in the human body.

Sometimes the feeling of the body represents the feeling of the spirit in us. This strong feeling is so thirsty and I tell them not to take any water. Some people question what I am doing. Because they are so thirsty. I say this is the spirit who is burned by the spirit of God. So I refuse to give the water. In the end, the devil will have been cast out and the feeling of thirst will be gone. This is so amazing.

From time to time, I know the feeling generated in our carnal, in our flesh, is very often the feeling from the spiritual world, which is so strong.

This is the kind of Israelites that they did not know they could actually cry out to the Lord. But they did not want to cry out to the Lord, they wanted to stone Moses instead. Do you know what I call this kind of person? This is the typical kind of people who will fight within the family, fight against God, and fight against the one who loves them. They are very powerful. They are so strong and they have no fear. They are so daring. But that is only when they are at home.

The moment when they are sent out to get a job, they are scared and can't even speak. In the outside world, they cannot make money, cannot do well at work, but behave like a king when they are at home. They are called the king of the household. There is a very special idiom in Chinese for this kind of person. We have all kinds of descriptions of these people: Lousy, non-performer in the workplace but become a very powerful figure at home because they can fight against the people who love them. This is the typical kind of people.

What I am saying is the feeling inside us is so real and there is a struggle in us that the devil knows. But are you going to overcome them? Let me tell you when you pray to the mighty God, the feeling will be put under the control of the Holy Spirit. The same thing, when we run out of water, the feeling of thirst is not going to be so strong.

Trust in the Lord to overcome our carnality

A lot of people tell me: "Pastor, I cannot control it. I cannot control it. I just can't. I just can't control it." Yes, You can control it! If you cannot control it then good luck to you. If you trust in the Lord, then you can put that feeling under control because that feeling is called carnal. That feeling is carnality.

So as a human being, do you want to live well? If you want to live well, then there is only one option: stay in the victory and control your emotions, control your feelings; put your emotions under control, put your feelings in control. Yes, your throat may feel like burning, but you can put this feeling under control because you are the mighty soldier in the Army of God.

The more you are fighting inside you, the more your carnal self is fighting against your spiritual self. There are two powers in you: either the carnality overcomes your spirit, or your spirit overcomes the carnality. It will yield two different kinds of results. One kind of result is you will gain access to the promise of God simply because you trust in the Lord and you overcome your carnality, which is your enemy. All the laziness, the depression, the kind of uncomfortable feelings, the feeling of thirst, the feeling of hunger, the feeling of shortage...All these are carnality.

But the question is: Do you want to live well? Yes, you want to live well. I trust that. I think you have a good judgment there. **If you want to live well, then the first thing you need to do is to overcome the carnality. ** Everybody has a natural reaction. Everybody has the same feeling. Everybody has that kind of inner dryness. Everybody has exactly the same thing that comes on the flesh. And some people say: "Oh, Pastor, I'm in doubt as my sex organ reacts." Everybody has that. If you don't then you probably need to see a doctor. I'm talking about carnality: everybody has the same feeling. Everyone has that inner dryness that will get hurt.

Sometimes you have the inner feelings of depression. Sometimes you are disappointed and sometimes you are excited. All these are feelings. I have exactly the same thing. I am a normal person, I'm not abnormal. I have disappointment, I have depression, and sometimes I have laziness. Sometimes I feel so down that I don't want to do anything. Sometimes I even have tears.

When I was casting out the devil, he said: "You don't love others, and you have that feeling right?" The devil was telling me that. And everybody looked at me: "The pastor doesn't have that feeling at all, the pastor is so strong, so spiritual, they don't even have that." No, you are wrong. Do you know how I'm going to respond to the devil? I told the devil: "Yes, I have the feeling. Yes, I am so disgusted to serve these kinds of people. I really don't like to do this. Yes, I do have that feeling. You are right. But I am an overcomer. I will put that underneath under my control. God is my banner, God is my victory, I will trust in the Lord."

Yet the feeling is so real. But God is so real as well. Do you have that feeling? I'm sure you have all kinds of feelings because you are a person who lives according to your own flesh, the same as me. But I can make a choice. I will trust in the Lord. If I cannot control it, having a long face all day because of disappointment, I would sit down there and look very quiet. But I don't want that kind of feeling to control me. I will put them under control.

Are you a person who trusts in the Lord? If you are a person who trusts in the Lord, you have to know that the feeling will not disappear. The feeling is still there, exactly the same feeling as the other Israelites. Moses had exactly the same feeling. But Moses looked up to God, to the mighty power of Almighty God. The moment you trust in the Lord, you will be able to overcome.

Let me try this. You can try this together with me. The moment you have the feeling, don't go with the feeling. For example, thirsty. "I did not drink water for a day. That's why I'm so thirsty."No, no, no. Jesus, in the desert, was fasting for 40 days with no food and no drink. Man does not live on bread alone but lives on every word coming from the mouth of God. Are you with me? Do you trust that? Do you trust your feelings or do you trust God? This is the typical training God wants to give us.

Put your feelings under control

Put your feelings under control. When I look at people that I have ministered to, one after another, I found that there is only one problem. The problem is that their feelings are controlling them. Do you control your feelings or do your feelings control you? If you're a young man, if the feelings keep on controlling you, I don't think you will do well. For example, in your primary school days, you don't want to do school, you don't want to study, and you just go by your own feelings. Do you want to do well? Every time you want to study, you open the fridge, take some food, and after taking the food, you look at the textbook. Then you go to the fridge again. And after coming back from the fridge, you look at your textbook and finish your food. The page is still on the same page. This goes on year after year. Every time you look at your classmate, they do well, but you are doing lousy, and you will look lousy among other people.

The feeling is so strong that you say: "Pastor, I cannot control myself." You have not been controlling yourself for years; you have not been controlling your feeling for years. Probably you are 20, 30, or 40 years old. But are you able to control your feelings? And this is the carnality, and these are the feelings you must put under control. Indeed, this is the God who will help us. This is the God who will help us to control our feelings. Otherwise, you will not live well. You will ruin yourself and ruin your life. You may come to the age of 80 and the feeling of your whole life can be summarized in one word: Defeated. You need God, and I need God. God is my banner. God is my victory. God is my helper. God is my power. God is my strength.

If you are one of these people, I guarantee you that if today you are a teenager, a young adult, if you start to learn how to put your feelings under control, you will be a different person. I tell you, you will stand in the victory because you recognize God, the Lord. My God is my banner, my victory, and the overcomer. My strength comes from God and he will help me to put my carnality under control. That is my choice. I want to put it under control, and God will help me.

Controlling your feelings is a spiritual problem

It's a spiritual thing. It's a spiritual problem. The Israelites did not want to control the feelings, but they wanted to throw the feelings onto Moses, and throw the blame onto Moses. But Moses, this guy is amazing. He turned to the Lord and cried out to the Lord. "What am I going to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me!"

The battle between the flesh and the spirit is so real. Are you an overcomer after the training God is giving us? Are you an overcomer? Are you one who can put your feelings under control? Moses and Joshua were also out of the water, but they didn't have the same feelings. What I am saying is that they did have the feelings, but they could put the feelings under control. They didn't want to stone Moses.

So now, you and I face this situation every now and then in life, but can you overcome that? That will determine which direction you are going: Are you going to live well? Are you going to live badly? That is the marking point. God is trying to train us how to put our feelings and our flesh under control so that we can march into the promised land. They're the enemies occupying the promised land. If you are not put under training, how would you fight on the battlefield? The battlefield is real. Sometimes you are out of the water, sometimes out the food, and sometimes it will be under 30 degrees. That kind of temperature, that kind of weather and you have to hide down there because you cannot move because you are a soldier and you want to fight the battle right.

It's the same thing in the spiritual realm. You're going to fight against the devil. If you don't have that kind of determination, the devil will grab you there. He will grab you and will give you stronger feelings of thirst, hunger, depression, oppression, and all the things. Are you with me? If you want to live well, trust me. Trust what I say. You can be an overcomer, and God is your banner.

Train your character and build a church with character

After that, Moses took the staff and struck it on the rock. Water came out. Do you think it is too difficult for God to make the water coming up from the rock? No, it is just training. Come on, it's just training and you are taking it so too seriously, right? You are too serious about your feelings. A water supply is not too difficult for God to give you. But what kind of person are you? Are you going to please God, or are you going to be the person who brings the wrath of God onto you? This group of people is useless since they all died in the desert.

This is just the first year of coming out of Egypt. They are only under basic training. The basic training is about food, water, about all kinds of supplies. But no one in that group, except for Moses and Joshua, etc, could pass the training. If you cannot pass the training, if you cannot pass the tests, the challenges, you are not worthy to be a fighter. You are not worthy to fight the battle to gain access to the promised land.

This is about character. I always believed that education is supposed to train one's character. I strongly believe that education is not about knowledge, not just imparting knowledge. Education is about training the character of victory, the character of an overcomer. How long do you want to succeed? You can succeed for a long time actually.

Today, look at the church I founded. Some pastor was telling me in the past years: "If you build a church, the church actually represents what kind of person you are." If I am a person like this, I will build a church like this. If I am a person who is very soft, easy to compromise, and going with my carnal feeling, I will build a Church that will go by my kind of feeling. They are easy to compromise, and they have a fear of the crowd. No, I'm not. In this church, I'm going to bring the presence of God. That is exactly what you see today. Today the result is really encouraging. In the past years, there were so many years of struggle. Every time, I was at the point of almost giving up. But what am I telling myself? I will press on for another day. I will press on for another day. If I can press on for a day, I will be able to press on for two days.

Once one of my church members came to me. He is a soft, easy-going person. He was applying for a job as a quality officer. He went for the interview. The interviewer asked: "Can you introduce yourself?"He said: "I'm an easy-going person."Then immediately, he failed the interview, because the job of a quality officer requires someone who dares to offend people. Are you with me?

When he came back, he asked me: "Pastor, I don't understand. I just talked one sentence, then they said: 'You don't have to talk anymore.'"I said: "Oh, yeah, what did you say to them?"He said: "I said I'm an easy-going person."That is the problem. He became a laughing stock. After he stepped out of the interview room, I'm sure that the interviewers would all laugh at this person. He didn't even know the basic job requirements!

The Army of God Requires Only Overcomers

The Army of God requires only overcomers, only those people who have the character. Do you want to live well? Do you want to have the presence of God? Do you want to gain access to the promise of God? Do you want to march into the promised land? The place where honey and milk flew? Then you need to be a tough guy.

I prefer to be a tough guy. I prefer to be a tough person. If you want to do so, you better be prepared, right? Some newcomers say they want to join our church: "Pastor, I'm prepared. I know you have very demanding requirements."Yeah, you have prepared. Well, that's good. I welcome you. But you know what, all our church members are preparing themselves. You better be psychologically prepared. The training here could be very tough. You all agree with me. A typical church member in our church needs to go through tough training, but that training will train your character. I'm sure in the workplace it will demonstrate that you are an overcomer.

God is my banner. Can you all say together with me? God is my banner, God is my victory. I have proved that. Don't trust your feelings, but trust in God. There's no water? It's no big deal. No food? It's no big deal. No job? It's no big deal. Train your character. Train your character! You got to know that God prefers people who have the character of an overcomer, who are like Abraham, like Isaac, like Jacob. Jacob is a powerful person. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph all are powerful people. They all are overcomers. No one after being sold as a slave and later on becoming a prisoner could become a Prime Minister. Very powerful person. They are so powerful. It's about the character.

Now this spiritual war is happening inside us and together it is also happening outside us. The spiritual war inside us, that inner struggle, the carnality, and your spirituality are fighting against each other inside you. "Who is going to win"depends on who you choose to trust. After this, the Israelites got water. But do you think they became overcomers? No. I'm so sad to say that. They had seen God's demonstration of His power so many times and yet they do not trust in the Lord. They do not trust in God and they do according to their feelings. They trust in their own carnality. They still trust their own feeling. When their throat got thirsty, they were defeated; when their stomach got hungry, they were defeated; when their mood was no good, they were defeated. Useless people.

Someone may object: "How can you say we are useless?"No, I'm not saying you are useless. The people who are controlled by their feeling are useless. No army wants this kind of people. If the army is full of this kind of people, the army will not be able to win the war at all. If you cannot win the battle in the spiritual world, you are not able to gain access to the promise of God.

Victory on the spiritual battlefield determines victory on the real battlefield

Sure enough, there is a battle inside and there is also a battle outside. There are a group of people called the Amalekites coming to attack the Israelites. Joshua was leading the Israelites to fight against the Amalekites.

Do you know what happened? Moses was standing on the mountain and lifting up his arms. Then Joshua would win. If Moses could keep his hands up there, the Israelites would be winning. But when he lowered his arms, the Amalekites were winning. Do you know what happened? Winning in the spiritual field will determine winning on the real battlefield. So God is my victory. God is my banner.

Every time when Moses lifted up his hand, in the spiritual realm the spirit of God will fight for us. Are you with me? So inside us we just lift up our arms, our hands, then we can bring up the banner of God. God is my victory and God will make you victorious. Winning is so easy. Come on! It's not difficult. It is not something difficult. It's so easy to make it a practical exercise. If you want to try that. You can try.

Someone comes to me and says: "Oh Pastor, I cannot control myself!" Can you control yourself for one minute? Oh yes. If you can control yourself for one minute, then you can control for two minutes. You can just add another minute, can you? Yes, I can. If you can do it for two minutes, you can do it for ten minutes, right? If you can do it for ten minutes, you can do it for an hour. If you can do it for an hour, you can do it for a day. If you can do it for a day, you can do it for a week. It just keeps on. Keep on marching forward and putting your feelings under control.

Lift up your hands, then in the spiritual realm, God will fight for you. The hands of Moses being lifted up represents whether you lift up the name of Jesus Christ. If you lift up the name of Jesus Christ, all the spirits in the spiritual realm will tremble. That's why I can cast out so many demons and the worms of hell. If you have a sleeping problem, then that's a spiritual problem. If you have a stomach problem, there is a spirit in the stomach. Just cast out the demon. "Preach the Gospel, cast out the demon, and heal the sick" is the gospel we preach. It is also the gospel Jesus was preaching, the gospel Apostle Paul was preaching.

Yes, you and I still live in the flesh, but you and I can put our flesh under control. The feeling will come back once in the while. But every time the feelings come back, they will be put under control because we lift up the name of Jesus Christ. The devil will tremble every time they hear the name of Jesus Christ. But you need to have the character. You need to have the character.

This Is A War Between Carnality and Spirituality

So Moses was fighting against the Amalekites. This chapter is pretty short, but the biggest problem is the Amalekites. Do you know where the Amalekites originated from? They were the descendants of Esau. Actually, the ancestor of the Israelites, Jacob, and the ancestor of the Amalekites, Esau, were twin brothers. That's amazing. The twin brothers were fighting against each other and that's the issue between the twin brothers. When these twin brothers were in the womb of Rebecca, God told Rebecca:

Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23)

Why is it so? Esau represents carnality. Esau was cursed and he was living under curses. His descendants, the Amalekites, are the kind of people God will be at war against from generation to generation. God is not going to be pleased by the Amalekites. God will be only pleased by Israel, that is, Jacob. The name of God is called the God of Jacob, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, but never God of the Amalekites. No! God will not be please by carnality. You can say: "Oh, I am so weak. Yes, I'm a carnal man. Who is not going to be like that? Everyone has that kind of feeling!"Yes, everyone has a kind of feeling, but not all are submitting themselves to the feeling. They are going to put the feeling under control. They are the overcomers because they trust in the Lord. That is Jacob.

Do you trust that the Lord will be your banner? If you trust the Lord is your banner, trust that the Lord is your victory, if you really trust Him, you will surely put your carnality under control. That's why the Book of Romans is actually talking about the necessity to put our flesh under control with the help of the Holy Spirit. The major job of the Holy Spirit is to nail down our flesh and nail down our carnality. That's why you and I got to pray in tongues and get the Holy Spirit to move in us. I'm going to tell you that it is really worth the effort.

If you're trusting God, the Lord we serve, you would surely be a man with a character. You will be a man with perseverance. You will be a man who has the capability to gain access to the promise of God. God is your banner. Can you hear that? The Amalekites are defeated. Your flesh is defeated, your carnality is going to be nailed down, and your feelings will be put under control. Yes, we may start small but we will grow. Grow with the hunger for Holy Spirit, more and more. God will restore His glorious image on us. God created us according to His own image, and that image is going to be rebuilt among us. But what is your choice? Do you trust that God is your banner and God is your victory? I would hope to see from today onwards all of us start to experience that God is my banner and God is my victory. Every time I rely on the name of Jesus Christ, my flesh and my carnality will be put under control. Aman!

May the Lord bless you.

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