When the Jews left Egypt God fought their battles for them. He spared the lives of the firstborn because of the blood of the Passover Lamb. He told them to be still and watch His deliverance at the Red Sea when the Jews escaped but the Egyptian army was drowned. He provided manna and water when they needed it. They were in bondage and couldn’t do anything to free themselves so He purchased their freedom with innocent blood and sealed it with power.
The same is true of us. We can’t do anything to secure our freedom from bondage to sin. The crucifixion and resurrection are His proofs of deliverance. He does it all. It is a free gift from His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). However after we have salvation we are expected to live for Him and that is a battle. Sometimes new Christians think that after salvation all will be smooth and easy, but that is not the case. That is when the battle begins (Romans 7:15-29).
The Jews found the same thing true. God fought for them against Pharaoh who tried to kill them in Egypt, but when the Amalekites tried to kill them in the desert they had to fight their own battles – with His help of course. Exodus 17:8-16 tells the story.
The Amalekites were descendants of Esau, a picture of those born after the flesh with no spiritual perception or concern (Hebrews 12:16-17). They had no fear of or respect for God (Deuteronomy 25:17-18). It is no surprise they attacked God’s people. After salvation the flesh attacks us – we are tempted to sin in thought or action (I John 1:8-10). These usually hit us in our weak spots. The Amalekites attacked the Jews where they were weak, attacking the worn out ones who were in the rear and not keeping up. Christians who are weak or weary, who are not strong and healthy and part of a group of other strong and healthy Christians, are the most vulnerable to attack as well. Be aware of where you are weak for that is where sin will attack.
Instead of God fighting for the Jews, they had to start to learn to fight for themselves. Not all were able to, so Moses asked Joshua to choose those were strong and able. These would do the fighting. Before God fought for them, now He would fight through them. Of great significance is that Joshua was the leader, the one who directed the fighting. This is the first mention of Joshua in the Bible. Joshua in Hebrew is the same a Jesus in Greek. Both mean “Jehovah is salvation.” Joshua, therefore, is a picture of Jesus. He leads us as we fight. We don’t’ battle alone but we follow Him.
But there was another element beside the healthy Jews fighting behind Joshua/Jesus, and that was Moses praying on the hill (v. 10). Aaron, his brother, and Hur, his brother-in-law, held up his hands when they got tired. When his hands were lifted in prayer the Jews would prevail, but when his hands dropped and prayer stopped, Amalek would win. We need to battle sin and the flesh behind Jesus, but we also need to pray and keep on praying for victory. Often we start well but our prayers fade and so does our success.
Notice, too, that the victory wasn’t instantaneous. There was a long battle and perseverance was necessary for them – and for us as well. In fact, the battle with the Amalekites will continue until Jesus comes back and returns things to Garden of Eden conditions, and our battle with sin will continue as long as we are on this earth as well.
To commemorate the victory God called the place Jehovah Nissi, The Lord is My Banner. The word banner refers to something lifted up, something going before, something for them to follow to victory. That is exactly what God is for us. Life will be a battle, we must be ready for that. Victory over sin can come as we fight behind Jesus, pray, and follow Jehovah Nissi, our banner.
What battles are you fighting now against the flesh, against your sin nature? Where are you most tempted to sin? If you don’t know your weakness (where the enemy attacks) you won’t be able to defend yourself and will be more vulnerable to defeat. List your weak areas. Make a plan for each one, what to do now to help to have victory when the attacks come (and they will).
BIBLE STUDY ASSIGNMENT
The name “Jehovah Nissi” means “The Lord is My Banner.” It is only used once in the Bible (Exodus 17:8-16) but ‘Nissi’ is a common word used 20 other times in the Old Testament. It is variously translated as pole, sign, banner, battle standard, sail and signal. Read an example of each below. Draw a picture of each object by the verse.
Numbers 21:8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.
Numbers 26:10 The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them along with Korah, whose followers died when the fire devoured the 250 men. And they served as a warning sign.
Isaiah 13:2 Raise a banner on a bare hilltop, shout to them; beckon to them to enter the gates of the nobles. (see also Psalm 60:4; Isaiah 5:26; 11:10-12; 18:3;30:17; 49:22; 62:10;Jeremiah 50:2; 51:12, 27)
Isaiah 31:9 Their stronghold will fall because of terror; at sight of the battle standard their commanders will panic,” declares the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, whose furnace is in Jerusalem. (see also Jeremiah 4:21)
Isaiah 33:23 Your rigging hangs loose: The mast is not held secure, the sail is not spread. Then an abundance of spoils will be divided and even the lame will carry off plunder. (see also Ezekiel 27:7)
Jeremiah 4:6 Raise the signal to go to Zion! Flee for safety without delay! For I am bringing disaster from the north, even terrible destruction.”
Think of the various words used. What is similar about each of these? Take your time and think awhile. You should be able to come up with several similarities.
Then apply these to God. Exactly how is God to us like a ‘NISSI”??? Give some specific examples of when He was this to you in your life.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)