After leaving Marah where God revealed Himself as the Healer of His people (Jehovah-Rophe), the people had a period of rest but they soon forgot what God had performed for them when they came into hunger and thirst. God came to their rescue. As their Provider, He had given them manna and quail from heaven (Ex. 15:6-15 and Ex. 16:8, 11-15). When they needed drink, he brought them to a rock where they experienced another miracle of provision – water in abundance (Ex. 17:9). Shortly after that, they were faced with the Amalekites! After all they had been through with their Delivering God, they seemed to have learned and they responded in a calm and organized way under the leadership of their much admired Joshua. This is the first war that Israel is to experience, and they are ill trained for such a venture against a highly experienced army. The two leaders have a plan. Joshua takes his army and marches against the Amalekites, and Moses takes his place as an intercessor for the army. As long as Moses holds up his arms, Israel prevails; when his arms drop, Amalek prevails. Aaron and Hur came to Moses’ aid as they seat Moses on a stone and assist in holding up his hands. God comes to the aid of Israel again and shows Himself as Jehovah-Nissi, my Banner. He is the victorious conqueror!
This is the Bible account in Ex. 17:11-16:
And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. 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.
Moses says in verse 9; “…I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.” Modern day banners are generally cloth flags, but perhaps that “banner” was more of a pole with an insignia. Either type banner might be carried by a conqueror to signify his victory just as a nation’s flag might be hoisted as a sign of victory. However, in this instance, Moses is carrying the rod (victory’s sign) before the actual victory is achieved! How humiliating to Israel and their God if Moses had had to lower the sign in defeat. No! God will see them through to victory! They were looking to Him! He is Jehovah-nissi! In the book of Deuteronomy, Jehovah-nissi made them a promise,”The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee;” (33:27).
A perusal of the wars which were fought by the Israelites in the Old Testament would show that they were the underdog, much like David was to Goliath. God went with them; He helped them, but He generally did not do it for them! However, there was one time did He tell them to “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” (Ex. 14:13). So don’t make formulas for God. Keep tuned to His instructions! God sanctioned war, He told them to go out to battle. The entire 20th chapter of Deuteronomy is devoted to military laws. However, He never let them go in their own strength. He wanted to be their banner. Ps. 33:16, “There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength” is a caution against a “nation whose God is the Lord” (33:12) looking to their own might for victory.
The principle set forth in the battle against the Amalekites is the same for spiritual battles. Spiritual battles must be fought under the banner of Jehovah-Nissi (1 Chr. 4:43).
A Christian should not attempt to fight spiritual battles in his own strength alone. He should arm himself in the armor of God as described in Eph. 6.11-17. In that way one is “strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.” Then Jesus Christ is the banner, the “ensign of the people” (Is. 11:10). Jesus said of Himself in John 16:33, “I have overcome the world.” Is. 55:4 refers to the Messiah as the leader and commander. And Romans 8:31, 37 says “. . .If God be for us, who can be against us?. . .we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
Take a look at the demoniac in the tombs (Luke 8:26-40). Can one be more at war than that man? But look what happened when he met Jesus who was Jehovah-nissi for him! This writer shares this story in poem form; it declares Jesus the Victor over all bondage of sin!
Luke tells that in the country of the Gadarenes,
there in the tombs
was a man with an unclean spirit,
who had his dwelling among the dead.
And, always, night and day, he was in the mountains,
in the tombs, crying and cutting himself with stones
No man could bind him – no, not with chains –
For they had been plucked asunder by him
and his fetters snapped in bits –
neither could any man tame him.
Altho he could not be bound by chains,
he was bound within.
He said, “My name is Legion, for we are many.”
The captives are still Legion
Bound with despair
Filled with guilt
Raging with hatred, violence, and lust
Abusing themselves and their families
Hiding in fear of being found out
Cursing those who would bring deliverance
The chains of bondage prevail
Covetousness and materialism
Jealousy – envy
Drugs and alcohol
Phobias – Fears
Hatred and strife
The effects are rampant
And – at last – Eternal Damnation!
The answer is singular –
JESUS CHRIST! JEHOVAH-NISSI!
One who said, “Cast your cares on me”
One who was beaten for our healing
One whose blood paid for our redemption
One before whom all devils tremble
One whose name brings deliverance.
The man, once called Legion, met Jesus, the One
whom God sent to heal the brokenhearted
Preach deliverance to the captive,
recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty them that are bruised.
No longer Legion – clothed and in his right mind –
he went home and began to publish
what great things Jesus had done for him.
The captive had been set free – Amen, Amen.