THE NAMES OF GOD Lesson #4
Jehovah-Nissi - The Lord Our Banner Exodus 17:15
While Joshua and the army of Israel fought the Amalekites in the valley below, Moses stood on the top of Mt. Horeb, which is Mt. Sinai, with his hands stretched out before the Lord, with his rod in his hands. The symbolism in this picture is full of instruction. Moses lifted up his hands in prayer to God and held up the rod, which represented God’s omnipotent power, so that all Israel could see it standing erect, like an immovable banner upon Mt. Sinai. But when Moses hands got heavy, the rod he held sagged. When the army of Israel could not see the rod, they wavered and the Amalekites prevailed against them. Aaron and Hur found a stone and put it under Moses to support him. Then they stood by Moses and held up his hands until the going down of the sun. Thus, Israel defeated the Amalekites. We are like those Israelites. At times it seems that our spiritual warfare will surely end in defeat. Like Moses, we get weary. Our legs are feeble. Our hands begin to sag. It appears that we will surely fall to the enemy. But, just when we have no strength, Christ our High Priest, represented by Aaron, and the Spirit of God, represent by Hur, whose name means liberty, inspire us to lift up our hands in prayer to God. Fixed upon Christ, our sure Foundation Stone, we again see the Rod of God, our mighty Savior, exalted and lifted up like a banner before us. “Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith,” we prevail over our enemies. Our exalted Savior gives us assurance that, when the day of our warfare is over, we shall win the victory over our enemies. Our great Commander says to us, “Be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). And by his grace we too shall overcome the world. At the end of the day, “Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-Nissi” (v. 15), which means, “the Lord our Banner”.
THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS JEHOVAH-NISSI, THE LORD OUR BANNER. In the majesty of his person, the efficacy of his work, the merit of his blood, the perfection of his righteousness, the certainty of his triumph, and the glory of his second advent, Christ is the Banner of his Church. Under this Banner we fight and prevail. And to this Banner we rally. In ancient times the banner of a regiment was far more useful than it is today; but we are still familiar with the symbolism. What a nation’s flag is to its people, Christ is to his Church. He is Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord our Banner. The banner is lifted up and displayed as the point of union. Countrymen have many things about which they have little quarrels. But let an enemy invade the land and every patriot will rally around the flag. When the chips are down, when liberty and freedom are in danger, all are one. All have one flag as their point of union. Even so, Christ is the point of union for all believers. All rally as one around Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord our Banner. There are many things which separate God’s saints upon this earth. I am very sorry for that. But conscientious men cannot give up things which they see to be true, even for the sake of unity. To us, baptism is important. We cannot accept sprinkling and call it baptism. To us, the elements of the Lord’s Table are important. We must have unleavened bread and wine, or we cannot call it the Lord’s Table. To us, independence is important. We cannot submit to any form of ecclesiastical hierarchy. To us, Christian liberty is important. We cannot be brought again under any yoke of bondage. We cannot, in good conscience, yield to the judgments of others in any of these points. And these things distinguish us from many who truly are our brethren. But there is one rallying point around which all true Christians meet. That rallying point is the person and work of Christ, whose name is Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord our Banner. When it comes to the person and work of Christ, all true believers are one, all true believers rally around and lift up the Banner of the Cross. Those who oppose and fight against the doctrine of Christ, his eternal Deity, effectual atonement, imputed righteousness, free grace salvation, sovereign rule over all things, or almighty intercession in heaven, are our enemies. All who uphold and defend these things are our brethren. In times of war, the banner directs the battle and encourages the soldiers. Moses held up the rod like a banner before Israel. The banner both directed and encouraged the army below. Aaron and Hur took great care to see to it that the banner did not fall to the ground. If it should fall the battle would be lost. Jehovah-Nissi, Christ our Banner, is the One who directs and encourages us in our warfare here below. We have no cause of fear. Though Moses grew weary, he never shall. He who is the same, yesterday, today and forever, will never fail. Child of God, fix your eyes upon him, and you shall never fail. If you would know the best way to fight, follow his steps, imitate his every action, mold your life after his example. Look to Christ for direction (Col. 3:1-3) and encouragement (Heb. 12:1-2), and press on to victory (Phil. 3:7-14). Remember, the banner is always the chief object of attack. The enemy says, “Take the banner and victory is ours.” In our spiritual warfare, the powers of darkness are always attacking Jehovah-Nissi, Christ Jesus, the Lord our Banner. The fiend of hell always attacks, but shall never destroy or even shake our glorious Banner. Both by the teachings of false prophets and in the consciences of weak believers, satan constantly attacks and seeks to destroy our Banner in five areas: (1.) The Glory of Christ’s Person, (2.) The Efficacy of Christ’s Atonement, (3.) The Sufficiency Of Christ’s Righteousness, (4.) The Freeness Of Christ’s Saving Grace, and (5.) The Fullness Of Christ’s Pardon. Satan’s constant attacks upon our Banner are ever to be expected, because the banner is the symbol of defiance. As soon as the banner is lifted up and unfurled in the face of the enemy, it seems to say, “Come on, do the worst you can. We do not fear your power. We defy you!” When Christ is preached, we give defiance to the enemies of our Lord. We have no power over satan in ourselves. But his power has been forever destroyed by the cross of Christ. And we must defiantly hurl the Banner of his defeat in his face. The more his ministers attack the doctrine of the cross, the more defiantly we are to wave the Banner of the Cross. And, I assure you, wherever there is a man who plainly, courageously lifts up the Banner of the Cross, proclaiming free pardon to sinners through the merit of Christ’s blood and righteousness, all the powers of hell will oppose him. He will be scorned and derided by both the religious and the secular world. Yet, the Lord Jesus, Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord our Banner, will assuredly draw sinners to himself (John 12:32). The banner is also the great source of consolation to every wounded soldier. Those Israelites who laid on the battlefield in Rephidim, wounded and hurting, looked up to Mt. Sinai to see if the rod was still held high by Moses. When they saw that banner lifted high and unshaken, they knew that the cause was yet safe, and they took comfort. Though they were hurting, the cause for which they were willing to die was safe. That gave them great comfort. Even so, every believer finds his heart’s consolation in Christ Jesus. The soldiers of the cross have no greater joy than seeing the Banner under which they live and die lifted up. We rejoice in our Savior’s triumph. We fall, but Christ does not. We go down to the grave and depart in peace, knowing that the cause of Christ prospers still. The banner is the symbol of victory too. When the soldiers come home from war, having thoroughly defeated the enemy, as they march through the streets celebrating their victory, leading the procession is the flag, the banner under which and for which they have fought. That banner is now the symbol of their victory. Even so, in that last great day, when our enemies are all subdued beneath our feet, the Lord Jesus Christ shall be our Banner still. This is one name among many, by which we shall celebrate our Redeemer’s praise throughout eternity. He is and shall forever be, Jehovah-Nissi - the Lord our Banner!
CHRIST IS A BANNER TO THEM THAT FEAR HIM Read Psalm 60:4 with Exodus 17:15. Together they teach us three things about our Lord Jesus Christ, whose name is Jehovah-Nissi. First, Christ was given to us as our Banner by God our Father. He gave his dear Son to be our Banner of salvation in old eternity. From everlasting, before ever the earth was, he gave Christ to be our Mediator and Substitute, Messiah, King, Lord, and Savior. When the fullness of time was come, God gave his Son in the manger at Bethlehem to be our Banner. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Christ was given upon the cross when God our Father gave his dear Son to die in our place upon the cursed tree, “the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God.” Christ is the Banner of grace given by God the Father to his people upon this earth. The Lord Jesus Christ is given to every believer as a Banner of salvation, love, grace, mercy, and eternal life when he believes the gospel (Song 2:4). Christ is the Banner given to every gospel preacher when he is called of God to preach the gospel. All of God’s preachers have the same message. They all wave the same Banner. We are sent of God to preach Jesus Christ and him crucified. God has committed this glorious Banner to our care. We dare not lay it down for a moment (I Cor. 1:17-23; 9:16; Gal. 6:14). Second, Christ is given as a Banner to them that fear God. He is not given to all men. God has a chosen people to whom he will give his Son, over whom he shall display the Banner of his love. Those people are known in time by the character that is created in them by the grace of God. The character by which they are known is this: They fear God. Only those who fear God are allowed to carry this Banner. Only those who fear God can carry this banner. It is the fear of God in his people that gives them the courage to carry his Banner. The fear of man is cowardly; but the fear of God is the mother of courage and boldness. If you fear God, if you know, worship, and trust the living God, this Banner has been given to you. Wherever you go, take your Banner with you. Never be ashamed of your colors. Third, God has given Christ to us as a Banner to be displayed “because of the Truth.” In order to display a banner, you have to take it out of its case and unfold it. I cannot urge you strongly enough to make it your daily business to study the Scriptures. Open the Book of God. It is the case in which Jehovah-Nissi is held. If you would display him to others, you must take the Banner out of the Case yourself. Let nothing keep you from personally studying the Word of God. To display the Banner, it must be lifted up. If we would display the Banner, we must carry it into the world. But, no matter how we lift it up, no matter how diligently we carry it into the world, the Banner will never be displayed to anyone unless there is a wind to blow it. We must ever seek God the Holy Spirit, by prayer and supplication, that he may, like a heavenly wind blow across the people before whom we lift up Christ our Banner. If he will but blow with life giving power, men and women will see and rally round Jehovah-Nissi - the Lord our Banner.
WHY IS CHRIST GIVEN TO BE OUR BANNER? Isaiah gave a word of prophecy concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. “In that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign (A Standard-Bearer or A Banner) of the people; to it shall the gathering of the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious” (Isa. 11:10). Christ Jesus has been given for a Banner for this purpose, that God’s elect scattered throughout the world might be gathered unto him (see verse 12 and Gen. 49:10). We are to lift high Jehovah-Nissi, Christ our Banner, and call upon sinners to come to him,. as sheep to the shepherd (John 10::28; Song 1:7-8), as doves to their window (Isa. 40:8; Ps. 116:7), as children to their father (I John 1:1-3), and as chicks to the hen (Matt. 23:37). All who come to Christ in true repentance and faith shall find rest in him. And his rest will be glorious. We also have this word of assurance: There is a day coming in which all the hosts of God’s elect shall be gathered unto him (II Thess. 2:1). When Isaiah said, “his rest shall be glorious,” it could be translated, “His rest shall be glory.” Believers find rest in Christ in this world from all their fears; and there is a rest yet to come in glory beyond our highest imagination (Heb. 4:9). Ever fix your eyes upon Jehovah-Nissi - the Lord our Banner. Set your heart upon Christ your Banner. Be courageous. Carry your Banner with you wherever you go. And live in this confidence: JEHOVAH-NISSI - THE LORD OUR BANNER, shall be our Banner forever. Always stay close to him (Ps. 20:5).