God is Jehovah Nissi -The LORD Our Banner

“Moses built an altar and named it The LORD is My Banner.” (Exodus 17:15)

As armies marched across the lands before them can be seen their banner. A banner is a signature of who they are and who they represent. Some banners my cause more fear in the opposing forces that others depending on the fierceness of their fighting men, the wisdom of their leader, or their faithfulness to their cause. The banners of men come and go as their civilizations rise and fall throughout history. Many banners of old rest in museums across the nations as a remembrance of times and battles of long ago. But there is but one banner that shall endure for ever and ever more and that is the first banner and the last, the Lord God Al-mighty.

A banner is not only used as a remembrance but as a standard that all should bow before or be defeated under. A banner is also a symbol of victory that waves in the wind that all may know upon whose ground they tread. In the end the ultimate victory will depend upon whose banner one marches under and as Joshua we should choose to march beneath the banner of the Lord. “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

We see in Exodus that Moses built an altar and named it “The Lord is my Banner.” The Israelite people had just won a victory against the Amalekites and Moses built this altar that the people would remember how the Lord had delivered them this day. Moses had just lead the people out of Egypt and now they were in the wilderness working their way to the Promised Land. But the Amalekites were in the land and they came against the Israelites to do battle with them.

The Amalekites were a nomadic people who inhabited the lands of ancient Israel. They are the descendants of Amalek who is in the family of Esau. Esau had settled in the Negev in the area of Kadesh. (Genesis 14:7) The Amalekite people were a constant thorn in the side of the Israelite people and often through history they fought against each other.

Now the Israelite people were back in the land and the Amalekite people came out to battle them. Moses told Joshua to gather the Israelite army and go and meet the Amalekites at Rephudim. As the battle began Moses, Aaron and Hur went up to the mountain and looked down at the warring armies as they fought. Moses had taken the rod of the Lord with him and as the fight raged Moses lifted his hands and the armies of Israel prevailed. But a Moses tired his hands became heavy and he let them down. As Moses’ hands relaxed the Amalekites began to prevail. Arron and Hur came and lifted Moses’ hands back up and the Israelites again began to win the battle. Joshua overcame the Amalekites and Israel had the victory and the Amalekites retreated.

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” (Exodus 17:14) Which Moses did and then built an altar to the Lord and named it “The Lord is My Banner.”

The word banner in Hebrew means my banner or is symbolic for an altar in the desert. The Amalekites had attacked the Israelites soon after they had left Egypt, a time when they were weak and unarmed. Yet, the Lord gave them the victory because they were His chosen people and they were following Him. Because the Lord had given them the victory over their enemy Moses built the altar to commemorate what the Lord had done. Moses named the altar as their banner to signify the power and strength of their Lord God who gave them the victory.

The Amalekites were for many years to come a constant threat to the Israelites but also a symbol of the constant battle we fight against our own thorns in the side. As we travel along in our Christian walk we too have constant temptations, constant old habits that plaque us, and weak spots that the devil will exploit. We are in constant battle with our fleshy side that desires the pleasures of this world and the spiritual side which desires the richness of our heavenly home. It is a battle of our spirit against our flesh, a battel that every Christian must fight. “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” (Galatians 5:17)

I sometimes see that the evil in this world is not my greatest enemy as I can see it and reject it. But I find that a lot of time that which I dislike the most and quickly critique in the world about me is also prevalent within me. I find that most of my battling is not against outside influences but what is deep within. I find myself at war with myself even as I try to remove myself from my core attention. Therefore I find myself to be the greatest hindrance to living a righteous life. I welcome the conviction of the Holy Spirit but then grieve His Spirit by not following His guidance. The war was won at Calvary but the battle rages on in the inner person. Who but the power of the Lord could set me free from this internal conflict? “I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:21-24)

Jesus stands ready to carry the burdens of our life for the glory of His Father. He has promised that if we lay our burdens, bring Him our battles and He will bear them. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28) As Moses and the Israelites we need to carry the banner of the Lord before us into the victory that He will give us. Moses set up a monument in remembrance of the power of God. The best banner I can think of as a banner of the Lord is prayer. Our banner of prayer should go before us into battle that He will give us the victory for His glory. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesians that at all times we should be in prayer with our petitions to the Lord “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.” (Ephesians 6:18) This only makes good sense, as we worship and serve the power of the universe, our God and Father. We should, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

First Baptist Church of Durant, February 26, 2016

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