Jehovah Nissi - The Lord is my Banner
Another look at the Names of God in the Old Testament
Read Exodus 17:8 - 16
In 1999, I was standing on the shore of the sea of Galilee, in Israel, with friends from this church, joining with Messianic Christians, our arms in the air, and singing joyfully:-
“We want to see Jesus lifted high,
a banner that flies across this land,
that all men might see the truth and know
He is the way to heaven.”
Remember that song? It was a memorable moment.
A banner tells us who we are fighting for, whose victory we seek, or which cause we are supporting.
JEHOVAH NISSI, or “The Lord is my banner,” or “The Lord my Victory,” is the Name of God revealed to us in Exodus 17:15.
In the Old Testament, God’s Name is revealed for a specific need or occasion; a divine intervention is required and God reveals Himself through a name that speaks directly that particular situation.
The people of Israel have reached the Promised Land, but they are not settled. They are being attacked by the Amalekites, who were distant relatives of theirs, descended from Esau, rather than from Jacob, his brother. God had brought his people to this land, but had told them to drive out the inhabitants, including these ‘sons of Amalek,’ who were not following the one, true God, and so would lead the Israelites into following pagan gods.
So when the Amalekites attack, Moses sends Joshua and his men out to fight, while he stands on a hill, watching, with his staff held high; - the Staff of God, that had brought the plagues, in Egypt, and which he had held out to part the Red Sea while the Israelites crossed over. While he holds his staff up, the Israelites are winning, but when his arms droop, the enemy advances. So, Aaron and Hur find a stone for him to sit on, and they support his arms until victory is achieved.
When the battle is finally won, and the remaining Amalekites have fled, Moses acknowledges God’s work in winning the battle, by building an altar to mark where it took place, and he dedicates it in the Name of God who achieved victory for them.
“Then Moses built an altar there, and named it JEHOVAH NISSI, which means, ‘The-Lord-is-my-Banner.” (v. 15)
God often seems to require our co-operation and partnership with Him to achieve what He has promised us. I am sure He can do anything, and could win the battle without us, but He graciously allows us to partner with Him in reaching our goals. He also puts friends, or prayer partners, like Aaron and Hur, alongside us, to support us in whatever ‘battle’ we are in.
What about us? We know we are in a battle, not just against the virus, where we may be starting to see the end in sight; but the New Testament tells us we are also in a battle for our souls, good against evil, even though Jesus has won the victory on the Cross for us. We have a choice, as the Israelites had. They could have relied only on Joshua and his men, or they could also hold up the staff of God, as He had told them to, and ask Him to fight with them and for them.
We too need to involve God in our daily life, acknowledging that we need His help, and the help of our friends and family in our battle against evil. We have also been given spiritual armour to wield in the battle against spiritual enemies; one part of the armour is the shield of FAITH, to hold up against the enemy’s lies, much as Moses held up his staff. We remember God’s promises and trust in Him.
Our weapon is the SWORD OF THE SPIRIT, which is God’s Word in the Bible, where we find that ‘the Lord is our Victory,’ under whose Banner, we fight. So, we don’t fight alone; we look to God first, and we ask for, and accept, the support of praying friends, our brothers and sisters in the church, as we walk confidently into whatever our life may bring.
The verse in the song that I started with goes on like this:
‘’Step by step we’re moving forward,
Little by little we’re taking ground.
Every prayer a powerful weapon;
Strongholds come tumbling down and down and down and down . . . “
So, let us join in the battle, under Jehovah Nissi, the Lord our Victory, and let us see Jesus lifted high like a banner in our land again.