Exodus 17:14-16 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 Jehovahnissi:  For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
The word “Jehovahnissi” in the King James is the Hebrew יְהֹוָה נִסִּי Yĕhovah nicciy which translated literally means “The LORD Is My Banner”. Think about that word “Banner”. When we think of “Banners” I often think of Jerry Bridenbaugh. When we have special events like Memorial Day or the Fall Blood Drive for the Cure Jerry and his helpers hang banners all over the Church. I always like it because it seems to enhance the services. I’ve been in Church services where colorful banners are displayed representing the glory of our Lord and His Grace. When we think of banners we think of promotion or decoration.
Banners were not originally designed to decorative. Banners were used in ancient times to designate the loyalties of an armed force. Banners flew over troops as they marched into battle. They identified who was who on the battlefield, just as uniforms do so today. When someone asked “Whose Army is that?” the question was answered by the banners that were displayed.
Ken Hemphill wrote in his book The Names of God:
“A banner in ancient times was not always a flag as we think of a banner today. Often it was a bare staff with a shiny metal ornament that would glisten in the sun. In fact, the word translated banner means “to glisten”.
1 A Banner Represents A Larger Thing. When you see a banner flying over an Army of people the banner represents something greater. The United States Flag when flying does not represent just some cloth and colors, it represents a people and a Constitution. It represents this nation. Israel had a banner that they were supposed to look to as they moved and marched. Their banner was a staff held in the hand of Moses, but that staff represented so much more than just a piece of wood.
That staff represented the God Who saved Israel from slavery.
Israel had been in bondage in Egypt for over 430 years (see Exodus 12:41). What ended Israel’s bondage? God ended Israel’s bondage! God raised up a man named Moses and told him to represent YAHWEH before both Pharaoh as well as Israel. When God spoke to Moses at the burning bush in Midian the Lord told Moses:
Exodus 3:7-10 And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry … I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land … flowing with milk and honey… I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.
Moses told God “They will not believe that You have sent me.” God told Moses “What is that in your hand” to which he replied “a rod”. This “rod” would become the “rod of God”, the Banner of Israel as they followed Moses. The rod itself was just a staff – shepherd’s tool for guiding sheep.
God made this the banner of Israel, representing the greater truth that God is with His people. Before God blessed Moses staff it was just a stick. Once God blessed that staff it became the “Rod of God”.
When Moses went to do as God told him to do the Bible says:
Exodus 4:20 And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand.
That “rod” stayed in Moses’ hand when he led Israel from Egypt. When Israel got to the Red Sea the Lord told Moses:
Exodus 14:16 But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
There was no magic in the banner. The banner represented God, and lifting that banner up over the sea in obedience to God is an act of faith not in the rod but in God. God watches over His people. God loves those whom He saves, and provides for their needs. After Israel watched God destroy the armies of the enemy in the Red Sea the people sang and rejoiced, not to the Banner but to the Lord that the Banner represented.
Exodus 15:1-11 Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.  The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.  The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.  Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.  The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.  Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.  And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.  And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.  The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.  Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.  Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
It was a wonderful day! God’s people praised their Savior. But when they got to Marah and found the waters bitter there, the children of God began to complain rather than praise the Lord. The bitter waters of Marah showed the weak and bitter faith of the children of God. The Lord gave them water, and warned them that ….
Exodus 15:26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, … I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
To be blessed God’s people must keep sin out of the camp.
2 Sin Inside AND Outside The Camp Troubles And Can Defeat The People Of God. As Israel moved from place to place sin nibbled on them both inside as well as outside the camp.
a Sin INSIDE The Camp Is Represented By The Murmuring And Complaining Of The Israelites. As Israel traveled they did not march to the tune of a band, but grumbled and complained as they went. A grumbling and complaining heart is representative of spiritual immaturity.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,  Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Grumbling and complaining is NOT a fruit of the Spirit
The Bible tells us that when things are NOT going our way, we should not grumble but look to the Banner of Yahweh.
Philippians 2:14–15 (ESV) Do ALL THINGS WITHOUT grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
Grumbling and complaining causes us to get our eyes off of God, and dims our lights. God is in control of all things. He saved us from slavery to sin and death just as He saved Israel from Egypt. God loves us, and will provide our needs in due season. We are called to:
1 Peter 4:9 (ESV) Show hospitality to one another WITHOUT GRUMBLING.
To lift one another up. To encourage one another in the Lord. After all, He saved us TOGETHER. Israel did not do this. Israel did not understand the words of our Lord that “it is better to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). The Bible says:
Exodus 16:2-3 And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness:  And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.
The Israelites targeted Moses, but their complaint was not against Moses but against God. It was God that led them through the Red Sea. It was God who gave them fresh water at Marah. It is God leading Israel. Moses is merely the Banner Bearer. God leads His people. God heard their words, and immediately told Moses:
Exodus 16:4-5 Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.  And it shall come to pass, that on the sixth day they shall prepare that which they bring in; and it shall be twice as much as they gather daily.
God would feed Manna – Bread from Heaven – to His people. His people were to gather just enough for each day, and enough on the day before the Sabbath to last through the Sabbath. Moses told the people “God hears your murmuring, and your murmuring is against God”.
God hears your murmuring, and your murmuring is against God.
God hears your murmuring, and your murmuring is against God.
God hears our murmuring, and our murmuring is against God.
God hears our murmuring, and our murmuring is against God.
God hears our murmuring, and our murmuring is against God.
Then God said:
Exodus 16:12 I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel: speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God.
God fed Israel quail in the evening, and bread in the morning. And for forty years God provided Manna to His people – provisions until the day that they entered the Promised Land. God cares for His people. God cares for you!
Yet Israel would not hear. Listen Beloved, it is possible to be saved, to be blessed with Eternal Life by Jesus Christ, and yet still live a miserable life. Israel is proof of that.
Israel used their lips not for prayer and praise, but for complaint and cursing. They would not get under the Banner of YAHWEH but stayed under the banner of Egyptian idolatry and greed. God will not bless sin in the camp!
When Israel got to Rephidem they once more murmured against Moses and against God. God told Moses:
Exodus 17:5-6 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.  Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
This time the Elders or Leaders of the people saw the Banner of God strike the Rock. When it struck the Sea the Children of Israel were saved while the sinners of Egypt sank. Now it strikes the Rock and water comes out – living water – the Water of Life. What was this Rock? What did this Rock represent? We are told in the New Testament:
1 Corinthians 10:4 … (Israel) drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
When Moses took the Rod of God, the Banner of Israel, and struck that Rock the Banner represented YAHWEH the Father. The Rock represented YAHWEH the Christ, the Son of the Living God. The Father sent the Son to die for our sins.
2 Corinthians 5:15 (Jesus) died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
1 Thessalonians 5:10 (ESV) (Jesus) died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.
1 Peter 2:24 (NASB) .. and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
Jesus Christ is the Living Water of God. When you repent of sin and come unto God by Him He satisfies your thirst, blesses your life, brings you into the Family of God. Jesus promises to care for His people. Sin in the camp kept Israel from enjoying all that salvation had to offer. Sin in the camp kept them from experiencing the utter JOY OF SALVATION.
Psalms 60:4 Thou (O Lord) hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.
Song of Solomon 2:4 He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.
Oh how He loves us! Let us forsake sin and cling to Him in love!
b Sin OUTSIDE The Camp Is Represented By The Amalekites. There was a group of people who followed after Israel as they moved. Like wolves around a flock of sheep these people picked off the stragglers. These were the Amalekites – and the Amalekites represent the sin filled world. God said of Amalek …
Deuteronomy 25:17-18 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt;  How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God.
Amalek and his people had no fear of God. They attacked God’s Israel, and attack God’s Church today. Who was Amalek? He was the grandson of Esau, the elder brother of Jacob who would become Israel. Esau was greedy, self focused, and had no love of God. He sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup. He thought he could renege on his promise, but Jacob through deceit still received the birthright.
And Esau hated him for it.
Esau’s children and grandchildren came to hate Israel, and none hated Israel as badly as Esau’s grandson Amalek and his descendants. Right after God fed His Israel water from the Rock the Bible tells us that:
Exodus 17:8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
Would Israel learn the lesson of Massah Meribah? Or would Israel continue in disobedience and be destroyed by the forces of Amalek?
Exodus 17:9-10 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.  So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
Moses is standing on the hill above this great battle. What is Moses’ job? He is to hold the Banner of God – the Rod of God – high above the crowd. Israel is God’s Army, just as the Church is God’s people.
Zechariah 4:6-7 … Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts. 7 Who art thou, O great mountain?
It is not Moses that will win the battle. It is not the Rod of God that will magically win the battle. It is not the people of God that will win the battle. It is the people of God trusting in Jehovah Nissi – God Our Banner – that will win the battle.
Exodus 17:11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
When Moses held up his hand – with the Rod of God in it – Israel prevailed. When God’s people hold up the Cross of Christ and the Word of God we cannot be defeated. The Lord our Banner will rule and reign. But when Moses let down his hand, Amalek – the world – prevailed. Because the Church has so compromised the Word of God and the Gospel message the world seems to be winning. Jesus said:
Matthew 18:20 (ESV) For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
No one person can do it alone. The Banner of God requires that we together lift Him up. The Banner of God requires that we together look to Him.
Exodus 17:12-13 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.
Amalek was defeated because God’s people rallied under the Lord our Banner. The world will always be defeated when God’s people follow the Lord.
3 What Banner Are You Flying Over Your Life? Why Not Try Yahweh Nissi?
Bubba had problems, so he decided to visit a psychiatrist. He told the doctor, “I’ve got problems. Every time I go to bed I think there’s somebody under it. I get scared. I’ve tried everything. I take a flashlight to bed with me and when I panic, I shine the light under the bed and look. Nobody’s there! When I go back to bed and close my eyes, it starts all over again! I think I’m going crazy.” The psychiatrist said, “Just put yourself in my hands for one year. Come talk to me three times a week, and we should be able to get rid of those fears.” Bubba asked “How much do you charge?” The Doctor said “Eighty dollars per visit.” Bubba thought a while and said, “I’ll think about it.” Six months later the psychiatrist saw Bubba in town and asked him, “Why didn’t you ever come to see me about those fears you were having?” Bubba said “Well eighty bucks a visit three times a week for a year is an awful lot of money! So, I shared the problem with my barber, and he cured me for $10.” The perplexed psychiatrist said, “Is that so! How did your barber cure you?” Bubba smiled and said, “He told me to cut the legs off of the bed. Ain’t nobody there anymore!”
If your life is falling apart the solution is not that difficult. Cast sin out of your life as soon as you see it. Do as God says. Live your life with Him and for Him. Read His Word. Seek His face. And gather together with your fellow Christians at least weekly.
May God touch your hearts with His Word!