Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Bible Doctrine Series-Jehovah-Nissi
Jehovah-Nissi—“the Lord our banner” (Exodus 17:15). The Hebrew word Nissi comes from a root meaning “something lifted up, a token to be seen far off; in particular it is a banner set up on a high place in case of invasion, showing the people where to assemble.” Jehovah Nissi is the Lord My Banner. After the children of Israel left Egypt, a new situation emerged. Pharaoh and his army had come to take them back into captivity; the Lord, however, delivered them without their having to fight. They simply passed through the Red Sea to freedom; God fought their enemies as the people remained silent. There was nothing for them to do except cross over into the wilderness. The symbolism is of a slave crossing the line of demarcation from a state of being in bondage to the state of being free. There is no work involved—we are saved by grace, not by works (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Our part is to simply believe and receive the truth of the Gospel. When a person passes from death into life, he is delivered from the domain of darkness and is transferred into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:13), but he, too, enters the wilderness spiritually. While there, he may find himself in situations where he is forced to learn to trust God to supply his physical needs and may choose to grumble and complain against God, as did the children of Israel. In the wilderness, a new crisis arose: Israel found them under attack by Amalek. This time there was not as hint of Moses telling the people to stand by and watch the salvation of the Lord; He would not fight for them as He did at the Red Sea. Instead, Moses instructed Joshua to pick some able-bodied men to defend them physically from Amalek. As Joshua fought against Amalek, Moses held up the staff of God in his hand. As he did, Israel prevailed in the battle. When Moses became tired and lowered the staff, Amalek prevailed. Victory was theirs only when the staff was raised; and the staff remained raised only when Aaron and Hur rallied round to support Moses as he held the staff. After Amalek’s defeat the Lord told Moses His plans: He would blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven. How did Moses respond to the victory that had just been won? Exodus 17:15-16 tells us “And Moses built an altar and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi: For he said, because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” The NASB tells us that Moses built an altar and called it “The Lord is My Banner.” When Moses lifted high the staff of God, Israel prevailed because God was at work in the place where they had assembled. Today that is representative of us as we engage in our battles against the world, the flesh, and the devil. As long as we remain under the upheld banner of God, we will prevail—as did Moses and the children of Israel. Being a Christian does not automatically keep us under His banner. To remain under God’s banner, we must be practicing obedience. Disobedience destroys our fellowship with God which forces us to operate in our own resources. When we do, our rebellion allows the enemy to prevail. This is clearly seen in Numbers chapters 13-14. Moses had sent 12 spies to investigate the Promised Land. Although they were highly impressed with the land itself, only two of them—Caleb and Joshua—were willing to take possession of the land. The others gave such as negative report that the whole congregation was ready to stone any would-be conquerors, including Moses and Aaron. The Lord told Moses that everyone from age 20 and older who grumbled against God would die in the wilderness because of their unbelief. The next morning, however, Moses’ listeners acknowledged they had sinned but were now ready to forcefully conquer the land. Moses assured them the Lord would not go with them; they would be going up against the enemy under their own banner and in their own strength. Instead of listening to their leader, they went into battle and were defeated. Moses reviewed all that had happened in the lives of the children of Israel since Kasdesh-barnea, and their attitudes turned to one of bereavement. There is a lesion in this for us. If we want to be victorious over the world, the flesh and the devil, we must enter the battle under God’s direction and banner. It is there we will experience supernatural power to accomplish His desires. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.