Amalek - Exodus Unity of Law and Grace - RR171AD55

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Amelek
Course: Course - Exodus; Unity of Law and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 55
Length: 0:34:00
TapeCode: RR171AD55
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Exodus Unity of Law and Grace.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission

Let us worship God. Serve the Lord with gladness, come before His presence with singing, enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. For the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endureth unto all generations. Let us pray.

Oh Lord, our God, teach us to be still and to know that thou art God, that in all things thou art at work, to bring all things into captivity to Jesus Christ who is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Make us faithful in His service, joyful in His kingdom, and ever confident in his victory. Grant us this in Christ’s name. Amen.

Our scripture is Exodus 17:8-16, and our subject: Amalek. Exodus 17:8-16, Amalek. “Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. So Joshua did as Moses had said unto him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi: For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

The five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy give us the alphabet of theology. They provide us with the essential elements of the doctrine of God, of man, of sin and salvation, and of the ways of God with men. This may be one of the reasons for their neglect. They go against the grain with most people. Men, both the godly and the ungodly, want a final order now. They hunger for instant utopia, and this has never been more true than in the era since the French Revolution, and especially in this century. Politics, then too often become an effort to gain utopia now. They want, in Thomas Boston’s great phrase, “To leap out of Delilah’s lap into Abraham’s bosom.” [00:04:33]

Together with this effort to gain utopia now goes an

Together with this effort to gain utopia now goes an inability to recognize what man is, both other men and ourselves. We believe ourselves always to be better than we are, and we often fail to admit the evil in other men. After all, we live in an age of humanism. Humanism is man’s sin, to be as God, to be his own lord. And humanism always wants to believe that man is good and if there’s a problem, it’s with God.

Perhaps all this has a great deal to do with the indifference to knowledge about Amalek. The Bible tells us we are to remember Amalek and what Amalek means. Moses, in Deuteronomy 25:17-19 reminds Israel that they must remember Amalek, and he says, “Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, that thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.” In Numbers 24:20, we see that Balaam described Amalek as “the first of the nations but his later end shall be that he perish forever.”

Now, that surprises us to have Amalek described as the first, the most important of the nations up to this point, because there was Egypt, and there were other powers, Ur of the Caldees but then, of course, we don’t’ know a great deal about some of the nations, and there is a curious neglect of any interest in Amalek. We do know that there was a time when Assyria was regarded as a myth concocted by the biblical writers, and then they located the ruins of Nineveh, and found out indeed how great an empire it was. But you don’t hear anything now about how it was once dismissed as a myth. As long ago as Alexander the Great’s day, they marched over it and thought it was just a hill. Never knew of its existence under their feet. [00:08:04]

Well, this business about Amalek being the first of

Well, this business about Amalek being the first of the nations and his destiny to perish forever troubles a great many people. Some try to read it as meaning that Amalek was the first to attack Israel, but that’s not what Moses says. The first as a Hebrew word means “primary.” It means “headship” or “top rank.” Because we do not know more about Amalek does not mean it was not important in its day. According to Velikovsky, the Amalekites were the Hyksos, known the Egyptians as the Amu, which seem as somehow to be an echo of Amalek, and Jewish records, ancient records, speak of Amalek as a people that undertook to destroy the whole world. They took a delight in evil, according to many references to them, and Moses says that they first attacked the weak, the struggling members of Israel who were slow in moving and had not yet reached the main encampment at Rephidim. Because the plagues, says Velikovsky, had weakened Egypt, Amalek rushed towards Egypt, conquered it, and occupied it for some time as the Hyksos rulers.

According to Genesis 36:12, the Amalekites were the descendents of Esau, Jacob’s brother. The Ephraimite, Joshua, the son of Nun, is also mentioned in this passage where we first encounter Amalek as Israel’s military leader. The name Joshua, we have in the New Testament, in the later form of the name, Jesus. It means “Jehovah saves.” Hur, his father, was apparently the grandfather of Bezeleul, who is mentioned in Exodus 31:2 as an artisan, and according to Josephus, Hur was the husband of Moses’ sister, Miriam. In verse 18, we are told that God required Moses to record this battle, to record this conflict with Amalek and to rehearse it in the ears of Joshua. Joshua, at the time, was occupied with getting men together for battle. After it was over, he was told by Moses what Amalek meant in the sight of God. That it means that he was not simply to remember the action, but the meaning of Amalek and God’s perpetual war against it.

We are told that Amalek took a delight in brutality and cruelty, that they routinely emasculated prisoners, that they showed a deliberate contempt for God at every turn. Men are unwilling to face the evil in all men, and at the same time unwilling to face their dependency on God. God’s requirement in this instance stresses that human action must be combined with a dependency on God. Joshua and his men fight against Amalek, Moses must raise his hands and staff in supplication and prayer to God. When his hands weakened, Israel began to lose, and the point is an obvious one. As we face our battles and problems, we must indeed take action. But we must be equally untiring in our dependence on God. The raised staff was a witness and a remembrance of God’s previous miraculous judgments, and it also invoked God’s continuing care. [00:13:22]

Verse 8, the first verse we read begins, “Then came

Verse 8, the first verse we read begins, “Then came Amalek.” The ancient rabbis said that this was an answer to what the previous verse tells us, and it calls attention to the grumbling against God by Israel, and they said, “then came Amalek” was a consequence of Israel’s grumbling about God, that God said, in effect, “If you’re going to grumble, I’ll give you something to grumble about.” The most evil power of our time. The rabbis of antiquity held that whenever Israel began to complain about God or to doubt Him, he sent them something like Amalek to humble them, so they warned that it is very unwise to complain about God.

According to Keil and Delitzsch, and I quote, “In Amalek the heathen world commenced that conflict with the people of God, which, while it aims at their destruction, can only be terminated by the complete annihilation of the ungodly powers of the world.” This conquest is a part of the Great Commission, the requirement to convert and to teach all nations. At times in history, as with Amalek, it means actual warfare.

After the battle, according to verse 15, Moses built an alter and named it Jehovahnissi, the Lord my Banner. This means the Lord himself is the standard or banner under which Israel fought. According to many scholars, verse 16 is obscure in meaning, the last verse in our text. However, according to George Rollinson, a great scholar of the last century, “The marginal reading in your Bible is the correct translation, and it reads, ‘Because the hand of Amalek is against the throne of God, of the Lord, therefore the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.’” And Rollinson went on to say, “The Hebrew can scarcely be said to be obscure. It gives plainly enough the sense which our translators have placed in the margin. Amalek, by attacking Israel, had lifted up his hand against the throne of God. Therefore, would God war against him from generation to generation.” [00:16:40]

In verse 14, we see that God commanded Moses, “Write

In verse 14, we see that God commanded Moses, “Write this for a memorial in a book,” or in the Hebrew it is literally “the book.” Thus, Moses was keeping a record at God’s requirement of all that happened, which is the record we have. He is here very specifically instructed to record Amalek’s evil and God’s hatred of Amalek. The recording of history was thus God’s mandate. This raises a very important point which we have touched upon some time back.

Apart from the biblical world of faith, the writing of history is to all practical intent non-existent. We do have a number of pagan chronicles, but there is a difference between chronicles and history. Chronicles simply record usually the time a ruler began his reign, and when it ended, and a few facts that are favorable to him. The chronicles outside of Christianity did not record their blunders and their follies. The chronicle lists names and events, and that’s all. Very often, a chronicle is no more than a series of dynastic tables. Some pagan writers, like Herodotus, are called historians, or the father of history, but their purpose differs from history, because their purpose as with Herodotus was simply to list all the curious customs and events which he had encountered. That is very different from history. Others in the past have given us a purported history, with idealized accounts invented speeches given to noble figures as though they had spoken them. Such works can be used as source works to be analyzed, but they are not themselves history. History writing gives us an account of events in terms of their meaning and purpose, and since neither the persons nor the nations involved are the goal of history in God’s sight, true history is critical in terms of an overall meaning which transcends man. Christianity and the Bible have made possible a non-Christian historiography, but the results are very trouble-some, because while they now see meaning and direction, they insist on seeing it in non-Christian terms. This is why they are often called heresies, Christian heresies. Marxist history sees the meaning of events in terms of a class struggle, but the world of borrowed meaning is a problem. Marxism presupposes the world of Darwin and evolution, and a meaning which is purely derived from within history, and such meaning always wanes in a few generations. The meaning of history cannot be sustained from within history, but only by God. [00:21:05]

So, the command to Moses is ...

So, the command to Moses is “Write this for a memorial in the book.” The Hebrew word for “memorial” can mean what the English word says, and also has the connotation of a record, a careful and a strict record. Many religions, such as Hinduism despise time and history in favor of things that are supposedly more spiritual. It should be apparent from this how different the Bible is. Exodus gives us a very different account of history. It does not spare Israel any more than it spares Egypt or Amalek. It tells the truth. God commands an historical memory, and the Bible is the great historical record. Failure to stress the historical character and interest of biblical faith is to depart from it.

God declares that there must be war with Amalek from generation to generation, which means in our time. And in our time we have powers and forces in the world that are radically anti-God, and are radically contemptuous of people and treat them as nothing, and God makes clear from this passage “I am at war with Amalek from generation to generation.” This is why the meaning of this scripture is glossed over. It doesn’t give us, in terms of humanistic presuppositions, a pretty picture of God. It doesn’t say God loves unconditionally, as some people do.

It was only yesterday afternoon that John Lofton, in Paris, Texas, (we didn’t have time to go to the Eiffel Tower) was giving us an account of a book where a man who claims to be thoroughly fundamentalist insists on God’s unconditional love. How does he square that with what God says, “The Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation?” God did not war against Amalek and then decide that humanism, and the Soviet Union, and Britain, and France, and the United States, and Japan and elsewhere is somehow different and good. But some very spiritual people are appalled by God’s attitude towards Amalek, and they regard it as an example of Old Testament primitivism. Such people are unwilling to recognize essential moral conflict because unity of all being is more important to them than truth and justice, but we are told here very clearly, “God will have war with Amalek from generation to generation,” and we are either with the Lord or with Amalek. There is no other choice. Let us pray. [00:25:30]

Oh Lord, our God thy word is truth, and we thank thee

Oh Lord, our God thy word is truth, and we thank thee that thou art at war with Amalek in our generation and to the end of time. That the Amaleks of history are under sentence of death, no matter how great they may be in the sight of men, thou wilt destroy him. Give us faith, therefore, so to walk, trusting in thy government and in thy justice, that we will ever be confident that thy righteousness shall prevail, the powers of evil shall be broken, and thy justice stand forth as the noonday sun. Our God, we thank thee in Christ’s name, amen. Are there any questions now about our lesson? Yes?

[Audience] Maybe it’s dangerous and foolish to ask why God does what he does, but I’m going to try.

[Rushdoony] Why God has what?

[Audience] Why God does what He does, but I’m going to try anyway. Why does God call people to honor his victory {?} is impossible without supernatural intervention?

[Rushdoony] Because God calls us to moral decision, and it means that we stand by by word and by action to evil, because if God disposed of evil, and went before us and did it all, there would be no necessity for us to be good. We would be content and satisfied to drift along and to be tolerant of the most incredible evils, so God requires the action of us. Any other questions or comments? Yes?

[Audience] Written history today doesn’t seem to be any more reliable than written history was back in those times because there seem to be people with vested interest who leave out the bad part and want to put in the good part that extols their virtue.

[Rushdoony] Yes, that’s very true. I went through the university and took course after course after history and maybe there was someone in the department who said Stalin was a bad man, but I never heard it. You had all kinds of profound analyses which stressed how bad the old regime was and correctives can sometimes be a bit stringent and that sort of thing. Yes? [00:29:00]

[Audience] Well, since the French Revolution, history

[Audience] Well, since the French Revolution, history has been, has declined, there are whole areas of the world now where records are destroyed, as in China, as in the Soviet Union. It will not be possible to ever make a valid history, or a detailed history of the events in Russian from 1917 down, because the records have been, and the records are being destroyed here.

[Rushdoony] Yes. All of this began with a book which is regarded as a classic; Gibbons Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and the thesis of his very detailed and painstaking writing was that Christianity was a blight on civilization, and it was to justify the Roman Empire as a great and glorious thing, a golden age which Christians destroyed, and his whole point was, of course, that the same thing is true today, that the blight on civilization is Christianity, and therefore, the Enlightenment, with its revival of classicism, is holding aloft the banner of truth and light. Of course, Gibbons still gave you enough data to contradict him. That type of writing since has ceased. You have more general statements since the suppression of a great deal of evidence. Not that Decline and Fall is not replete with a suppression of evidence, but it’s far more in the direction of a radical rewriting.

[Audience] Well, I’ve had to toil with business histories and I can tell you that not only are memories of individuals {?} but you can make an enemy for life by reminding a man of the truth of what happened.

[Rushdoony] Yes, yes. Well, today it has become routine to seal archives, and in some instances before the things are put into the custody of some library, many papers are eliminated, and one historian has called attention to the fact that a statement made which recordings still are available here and there, certain key sentences are missing from the official papers.

[Audience] Wives have {?} history in that respect, they’ve burned the papers of a great many men.

[Rushdoony] Uh huh. Any further questions? Well, if not, let us conclude with prayer.

Our Lord and our God, we rejoice in thy word, in thy government, and in thy justice. We thank thee that thou in thy sovereign grace has made us thy people, set before us the way wherein we should go and given us so great a promise in Christ. Make us faithful in our service. And now go in peace. God the father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you this day and always. Amen. [00:33:39]

End of tape.

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