Jehovah Nissi, The Lord our Banner

Exodus 17:11-16 As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight. Moses’ hands, however, grew tired; so they took a rock and put it under him and he sat on it. Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady until sunset. And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the sword. Then the Lord said to Moses: Write this down in a book as something to be remembered, and recite it to Joshua: I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. Moses built an altar there, which he named Yahweh-nissi; for he said, “Take up the banner of the Lord! The Lord has a war against Amalek through the ages.”

I have been learning about the Names of God in the Old Testament and using them in my daily prayer time and in adoration of His Holy Name and attributes. I have found it a beautiful way to address God in my personal time of specific need, and call out to the Name that promises to meet that need. When I am needing peace, I address Jehovah Shalom, the God who is my peace. When I am in need of healing, I ask Jehovah Rapha to attend to my pain. When in need of provision, I can call to Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides. When I am feeling lost or in need of guidance or rest, I cry out to my Shepherd, Jehovah Raah.

A couple weeks ago, I was introduced to Jehovah Nissi, The Lord, our Banner. He first appears here in Exodus 17, after a victorious battle against Amalek, the grandson of Esau (who had sold his birthright to his younger brother Jacob/Israel for a bowl of stew). St. Augustine taught that Amalek represents the city of the world, and Israel represents the City of God. The battle between the children of Israel and the Amalekites is an OT type of what we experience in our Christian life today, what we know as spiritual warfare. Today’s battle is the Lord’s keeping of His sworn vow…to have war against Amalek from generation to generation. And truly, today we are fighting in spiritual battles between between the city of the world and the city of God.

I challenge you to read the entire account for yourself, starting with verse 8, and compare it with the NT Scriptures about spiritual warfare…..but for now, I want to focus on the details of the victory that Moses experienced in the battle with Amalek, and the Name of God that appears in this account.  Have you ever tried holding your hands above your head for a long period of time? They quickly grow tired, and you can only find relief by lowering them. This happened for Moses in this account, and when his arms dropped, the enemy advanced. Moses was assisted by Aaron and Hur, in that when his arms grew tired, they held them up for him, and relieved him in his need for rest.

This is a beautiful picture of Christian Community!

In today’s spiritual battle, we find this same phenomena. We all are fighting intense battles with an unseen enemy, we lift our hands in surrender to God and focus on Him, but the battle is long, our arms grow tired, and in our humanity, we grow weary in well-doing, lose our focus, and take a break…when our hands lower, our enemy advances. How we need the support and assistance of one other! Like Aaron and Hur, we can strengthen the arms of our brothers and sisters in battle through prayer and encouragement while we wait for the promise of the complete defeat of Amalek, and continue in the war against him through the ages.

Psalm 60:4 You have given a banner to those who fear you that it may be displayed because of the truth! Selah.

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The Altar

The Kitchen has been called the heart of the home.  Family life is nurtured in the kitchen; conversations, tears and laughter coexist and comingle; food is prepared and consumed.  Generally, because of use and abuse, the kitchen is the messiest room in the house. If the kitchen represents the heart, the sink would be its altar.

The sink is where used vessels are gathered, scraped, washed clean, sorted and prepared for future use.  You can’t serve up a fresh hot meal on dirty dishes, now, can you?

In the same way, to be used effectively by God, we need to be cleansed regularly. Everyday use leaves the remains of what we had to offer on the surface of our heart.  Regret and unforgiveness will harden into bitterness if we are not careful to remove it promptly.   In the quiet of your kitchen, bring the dirty dishes of your life to the altar.  While you are scraping and scrubbing the congealed mess from the dishes, rinsing them clean, and putting things straight in your little kitchen, Let the Lord do the same thing on the altar of your heart.  With contrition, make a plan to right the wrongs that you have committed, and ask the Lord for the strength and resolve to follow through.  As you are putting away the clean dishes, and wiping up your workspace, thank the Lord for His goodness to you.  Ask Him to prepare you and enable you for the work that He has for you.

Regret, Guilt, and Shame are the ugly stepsisters of Contrition, the daughter of Truth and Pardon.  These stepsisters are hateful, ruthless, unforgiving, and usually gross exaggerators.  Don’t let them “help” in your kitchen.