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 Yahweh Nissi which translated literally means “The Eternal God Is My Banner”.
In ancient times as today, armies always went into battle following their banner or flag. You knew you were on the correct side of the battlefield when you followed your flag. When I was stationed 14 months overseas in South Korea – apart from my wife and precious children – every morning and night I stood at attention and watched our “banner”, the U.S. Flag, raised and lowered. As Airmen we were all reminded that the reason we suffered was not just for a piece of cloth. We suffered and were willing to die so that our nation could remain free. That “banner” wasn’t just a strip of tri-colored cloth to us. The banner represented something greater. The “banner” we honored represented the United States, in my opinion one of the most unique nations in all the world.
The Banner represents a larger thing. The American armies follow our flag into battle. Israel had no flag.
Israel was to follow Yahweh to victory!
The Greatest Enemy Of Israel Was Israel
At this time in history the nation of Israel has never had to fight a battle with an external enemy. God fought for Israel. Israel was a nation of slaves, held in captivity by Egypt. Israel had been in captivity for so long that it literally had no idea as to how to fight. They had no soldiers.
Israel was saved and freed from Egypt because God fought for them. Through a series of ten plagues, God forced Pharaoh to release His people. When Pharaoh led his armies to attack Israel after releasing them YAHWEH battled for His people. Israel was safe as long as she followed the Lord. But Israel kept on fighting among themselves.
They fought with Moses:
Exodus 14:11-12 … And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? 12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.
This not only hurt Moses, but I’m sure it hurt YAHWEH. The Lord in Grace released His people. He was not going to let them die now. Moses told Israel:
Exodus 14:14 YAHWEH shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.
When Israel came to Marah in the wilderness of Shur (Exodus 15:23-25) the people once more complained against Moses and God. They had no external enemies, but they were their own worst enemy. Israel wandered in to the wilderness of Sin – and in SIN they SINNED once more. Israel grumbled about the food so that God sent manna (bread from Heaven) and quail to feed His people.
In The Wilderness Of Sin, Israel Sinned
God will fight the battles of His people, but His people must honor Him. The greatest enemy we will ever fight will be ourselves. This is why the Apostle commanded:
1 Corinthians 1:9-10 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. 10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
The Psalmist told us in Psalm 133:1, “How good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”.
God’s people need to understand that
“if we love one another, God dwells in us” (1 John 4:12).
This is why we are to “live in harmony with one another” (Romans 12:16).
I have known and pastored churches that – though they have heard the message of the Gospel and know what God requires of us – have nonetheless persisted in warring among themselves. Israel, like the Church, was meant to be a unified body of believers, each working together for the glory of God.
We are to follow Yahweh Nissi!
We Must Conquer Ourselves: Rephidim Part 1
Then Israel came to Rephidim. Once more the people …
… protested instead of praying.
… criticized instead of crying out to Yahweh.
… griped instead of giving Yahweh glory.
… lamented instead of looking up.
Israel was NOT learning. Moses cries out to God:
Exodus 17:4 … What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.
It’s not getting better. It’s getting worst. So God tells Moses:
Exodus 17:5-6 … 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. 6 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.
I am told that this is an Old Testament shadow of the Cross of Christ. Moses striking the Rock is a picture of Christ being nailed to the Cross at Calvary. You see, Yahweh is standing BEFORE Moses on the Rock. Jesus said:
John 6:35 … he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
John 7:37 … If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
Revelation 21:6 … I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
When Moses did as God told him water flowed from the rock. That Rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).
Israel drank from the Rock of God at Rephidim.
When We Conquer Ourselves, God Can Lead Us
Rephidim Part 2
Israel doesn’t leave Rephidim. Suddenly we see
Exodus 17:8 Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel IN REPHIDIM.
Up to this point God has fought Israel’s battles, and put up with Israel’s internal battles. If you belong to Yahweh at some point God will try your faith. Has Israel learned from their many failures? We’ll see.
The Amalekites were the descendants of Esau, brother of Jacob. This made the Amalekites cousins of the Israelites. Moses told Israel in:
Deuteronomy 25:17-18 Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; 18 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.
The Amalekites had been attacking Israel’s rear, picking off the weak and the stragglers for some time. I wish people – particularly American Christians – would understand that our strength is in our unity. Every time members of the Church get slack in attending and worshiping together with their fellow Christians it isn’t long before they start falling back into worldliness and an old sin pattern. The devil loves to pick off stragglers. He watches, and waits.
Amalek has watched Israel battle internally, weakening herself through foolish and unneeded struggles. Amalek took out the stragglers. Now Amalek strikes!
Moses tells Joshua:
Exodus 17:9-10 … 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. 10 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.
Everyone has a duty to do. Moses was to hold up the “rod of God”. This was the same “rod” that Moses held over the Red Sea when it parted. This was the same “rod” that Moses struck the rock with a Rephidim. God has had Moses use this same “rod” over and over again. But now God is going to show Israel something very different.
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.
Moses is but a man. Have you ever tried holding your hands above your head for any length of time? How about when one of those hands holds a “rod” that weighs 3-4 pounds? You can do it for a while – but after a while the arms have to come down. Aaron and Hur saw the problem. So how did they handle it? They got involved. They didn’t grumble, didn’t complain, didn’t find fault. They found a solution.
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. 13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Joshua won the battle. No, not just Joshua. He was leading the men. Joshua and his men won the battle. But no, not just Joshua and his men. Joshua and his men, along with Aaron, Hur, and Moses. But was that all? No. God told Moses:
Exodus 17:14 … 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.
When God’s people come together in obedience to Yahweh, then Yahweh will use His people to do great things.
The Church Must Follow Yahweh Nissi!
The Bible tells us in:
Philippians 2:14-16 Do all things without murmurings and disputings: 15 That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life
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 united people of God trusting and following Yahweh Nissi – God Our Banner – who will win the battle.
May God touch our hearts with His Word and His Spirit. Oh, that we would all be a people following Yahweh Nissi, God our Banner! In Jesus’ name I pray this. Amen!