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YHWH Nissi (Jehovah Nissi): The LORD is My Banner

YHWH Nissi: The LORD is My Banner (17:15)

And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD Is My Banner,
(Exodus 17:15 ESV)

Derivations

  • YHWH: from the Hebrew word “havah”, meaning “to be” or “being”. Closely associated with the Hebrew word “chavah”, meaning “to live” or “life”
  • Nissi: from the Hebrew word nēs, meaning a flag, sail, by implication a flagstaff ; generally a signal; figurative a token :- banner, pole, sail, (en-)sign, standard.

The LORD is My Banner

This is a story of bad news and good news, much like the history of the Israelites. As in our last study on Jehovah Raphah, The LORD Who Heals, we need to look at the back story of the situation.

  • Miraculously, at Marah, they were given sweet water to drink (Exodus 15:25)
  • They were led to a resting place at Elim (Exodus 15:27)
  • Journeyed into the Wilderness of Sin, somewhere between Elim and Sinai (Exodus 16:1)
  • Roughly 45 days after leaving Egypt triumphantly, and witnessing at least three recorded miracles, they grumbled against Moses and Aaron about being hungry (Exodus 16:2-3)
  • The LORD their God (YHWH their Elohim) provided (Exodus 16:11-20)
  • They left the Wilderness of Sin, but not their sinful nature (Exodus 17:1)
  • Camped at Rephidim, and found no water, so they complained again (Exodus 17:1-2)
  • The LORD provided water at Horeb, using Moses’ staff (Exodus 5-6)

The Bad News: Sin has consequences

  • The Amalekites attacked Israel in the wilderness
    • Amalek was a grandson of Esau, who despised spiritual things and sold his birthright
      (Genesis 36:12)
    • He was the first enemy of the redeemed Israel, God’s chosen people (Numbers 24:20)
    • His people became a thorn in the flesh for the Israelites
      (Exodus 17:16, Deuteronomy 25:17-18)
    • The Amalekites were the immediate cause of Saul’s rejection as king of Israel
      (1 Samuel 15:17-33)
    • An Amalekite killed Saul – or at least claimed to (2 Samuel 1:1-10)
    • Haman was an Amalekite, or Agagite (Esther 3:1, 8:3)
  • Snakes attacked the Israelites (Numbers 21:4-8)
    • Coming from a victory, the Israelites complained, again (Numbers 21:1-5)
    • Many died from the bites of the snake (Numbers 21:6)

The Good News: The LORD is My Banner gives victory over sin

  • Faith engenders obedience which brings victory
    • Joshua (literally Jehovah saved) obeyed (Exodus 17:10) and won (Exodus 17:13)
    • Moses lifted up the banner, Elohim’s staff (Exodus 17:9, 11), and Joshua won
    • Aaron and Hur supported Moses’ hands (Exodus 17:12), and Joshua won
  • Faith engenders obedience which brings healing
    • Moses obeyed God, made the bronze snake and mounted it on a pole – same Hebrew word as banner (Numbers 21:8-9a)
    • Whoever obeyed and looked on the bronze snake recovered and lived (Numbers 21:9b)
  • Faith engenders obedience which brings eternal life (John 3:14)

Looking back to see ahead

  • Jehovah Jireh provided the lamb
  • Jehovah Raphah provides the healing
  • Jehovah Nissi provides the victory

Praying to God by Name

From “Praying the Names of God” by Ann Spangler

Reflect On:    Exodus 17:8-15

Praise God:        Because there is no greater power in heaven or on earth.
Offer Thanks:     For God’s power at work in your life.
Confess:             Your tendency to try to fight your own battles in your own strength.
Ask God:           To increase your faith in his desire to use his power on your behalf.

Reflect On:    Numbers 21:4-9

Praise God:        For the gift of his Son.
Offer Thanks:     That God provided a remedy for our sin.
Confess:             Any complaints or bitterness you may have harbored toward God.
Ask God:           To increase your faith in his goodness and his love.

Reflect On:    Isaiah 49:22-25

Praise God:        For his power to save the children in your life.
Offer Thanks:     For God’s promise of help.
Confess:             Any lack of faith, fueled by disappointment.
Ask God:           To arouse your fighting spirit on behalf of your children.

A Hymn (loosely) based on Jehovah Nissi

JEHOVAH-NISSI
The LORD My Banner

By whom was David taught,
To aim the dreadful blow,
When he Goliath fought,
And laid the Gittite low
No sword nor spear the stripling took,
But chose a pebble from the brook.

‘Twas Israel’s GOD and king,
Who sent him to the fight;
Who gave him strength to sling,
And skill to aim aright.
Ye feeble saints your strength endures,
Because young David’s GOD is yours.

Who ordered Gideon forth,
To storm th’ invaders’ camp,
With arms of little worth,
A pitcher and a lamp?
The trumpets made his coming known,
And all the host was overthrown.

Oh! I have seen the day,
When with a single word,
GOD helping me to say,
My trust is in the LORD;
My soul has quell’d a thousand foes,
Fearless of all that could oppose.

But unbelief, self-will,
Self-righteousness and pride,
How often do they steal
My weapon from my side?
Yet David’s LORD, and Gideon’s friend,
Will help his servant to the end.

William Cowper
From Olney Hymns, published in 1779
Taken from “William Cowper’s Olney Hymns”, p 30