Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. When the LORD your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget! (Deuteronomy 25:17-19 NKJV)
I live in a culturally diverse area. Still it would be easy for me to read these verses and dismiss them as not being relevant to my life because I am certain that no Amalekites live in my neighborhood. But maybe I can find some if I abandon my literalist tendencies and view these verses through spiritual eyes. First, let’s review Amalekites.
The Amalekites were the descendants of Amalek. He was the grandson of Esau, Jacob’s (renamed by God, Israel) brother. The Amalekites became a semi nomadic people who had two opposing primary characteristics. First they were cruel. Warfare in the Old Testament was a very cruel thing in our modern eyes, even when Israel fought. But the Amalekites were cruel cowards. When Israel was on the Exodus from Egypt, they just trudged along in one huge group. The old, the sick and children lagged behind. In Exodus 17, the Amalekites revealed their cruel and cowardly nature when they attacked the stragglers, slaughtering the weak when no one was near to help them. God condemned them and pledged to wipe them from existence. Everywhere they appear in the biblical narrative, these same two characteristics appear. It seems they never repented.
The Amalekites first appear in one of the earliest books written, Exodus, a few times throughout the Old Testament, and they appear again in one of the last, Esther. Mordecai, a Jew who understood God’s contempt for the Amalekites, refused to bow to Haman, and Amalekite. Haman was faithful to the Amalekite tradition of being a cruel coward, and God was faithful to his pledge to His promise to give the children of Israel victory of the Amalekites. Mordecai trusted God’s power over Haman’s apparent favor with the Persian King.
In a spiritual sense, I see my flesh as a cruel and cowardly Amalekite, always seeking a weak place to sneak attack my faith walk. God’s Spirit is at war with the rebellious spirit of my flesh. God’s Spirit will never relent and encourages me to battle my flesh wherever it sneaks in and tries to attack the straggling ungodly desires of my heart that have not yet been firmly re-rooted in the Spirit of the Living Lord, Jesus. God has pledged to never abandon this battle as I am sanctified by the Spirit. From the day I was saved until the day I go to be with the Lord, the battle continues.
God could have simply destroyed the Amalekites with fire from heaven, but chose instead to challenge the Israelites to learn to recognize and destroy them wherever they appeared. God’s Spirit identifies for me the rebellions of my flesh through the witness of the Holy Spirit, and He challenges me to recognize and destroy fleshly desires….. I guess the Amalekite spirit lives closer to my home than I first thought.
I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness. (Romans 6:19).