Sermon #4 Series: The Names of God
Title: JEHOVAH-NISSI--THE LORD OUR BANNER
Text: Exodus 17:15
Subject: Christ the Banner of His People
Date: Tuesday Evening, October 10, 1987
Tape #: H-87
Amalek led a confederation against Moses and the children of Israel in Rephidim. Like all the trials and deliverances of the nation of Israel, this battle with Amalek is typical of the battles which God’s Church, the true Israel of God, must endure in this world. The world, the flesh and the devil constantly war against us. We constantly have fightings without and fightings within. And our warfare will not be over until we have dropped this robe of flesh and entered into our heavenly rest above.
While Joshua and the army of Israel were fighting the Amalekites in the valley below, Moses was standing on the top of Mt. Horeb, 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 that rod, standing erect, like an immovable banner upon Mt. Sinai. But after a while Moses hands got heavy. The rod he held sagged. And, when the army of Israel could not see the rod, they wavered, and the Amalekites prevailed against them. So 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. When the day was over, Joshua and the army of Israel had defeated the Amalekites.
We are like those Israelites. At times it seems that our spiritual warfare will surely end in defeat. The allurements of the world, the temptations of Satan, the opposition of wicked men and the lusts of our flesh appear to be too great for us. 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 and 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. And 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). That is my subject for tonight. Here is another name by which our God and Savior has made himself known to us. By this name we worship him. And by this name we shall triumph over all our enemies.
Proposition: Our Savior’s name is JEHOVAH-NISSI--THE LORD OUR BANNER.
I will give you my outline, so that you may more easily follow my thoughts. May the Lord graciously enable me to lift high the Banner he has given and give us hearts to rally round and follow JEHOVAH-NISSI--THE LORD OUR BANNER.
1. The Lord Jesus Christ is our Banner (Ex. 17:15).
2. Christ is a Banner given to them that fear him (Ps. 60:4).
3. Why is Christ given to be our Banner (Isa. 11:10)?
I. FIRST, I WANT TO SHOW YOU THAT THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IS OUR BANNER.
The Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, is Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord our Banner. In the majesty of his person, in the efficacy of his work, in the merit of his blood, in the perfection of his righteousness, in the certainty of his triumph, and in the glory of his advent, Christ is the Banner of his Church. Under this Banner we fight. Under this Banner we prevail. And to this Banner we rally.
In ancient times the banner of a regiment was far more useful than it is today. But are we still familiar with the symbolism. We all stand to salute, at the raising of the stars and stripes. In those old war movies we see on television, we still get a lump in our throat when we see the battle weary, wounded soldiers planting “Old Glory” on a hill that has been taken in the name of liberty. Every red-blooded American has a sense of patriotic pride when he sees the flag of his country waving in the air as a symbol of liberty. What the stars and stripes are to this country, the Lord Jesus Christ is to his Church and Kingdom. He is Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord our Banner! Let me show you what this means.
A. The Banner is lifted up and displayed as the point of union.
Countrymen have many things about which they have little quarrels. Northerners and Southerners, Easterners and Westerners do have their differences. And they do not mind telling you plainly what they are. Texas has its flag. Kentucky has its flag. New York has its flag. And North Carolina has its flag. But let an enemy invade any state in the Union, and every American will rally around one flag. When the chips are down, when liberty and freedom are in danger, we are all Americans. We all have one flag as our point of union.
You know where I am going. My brethren, Christ is the point of union for all believers. The soldiers of the cross 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. And 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, his effectual atonement, his imputed righteousness, his free grace salvation, his sovereign rule of all things and his almighty intercession in heaven, are our enemies. All who uphold and defend these things are our brethren. The enemies of the cross are our enemies. The friends of the cross are our friends. Let us never mistake our friends for our enemies, or our enemies for our friends.
B. In times of war, the Banner directs the battle and encourages the soldiers.
Moses upon Sinai 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.
1. Look to Christ for direction (Col. 3:1-3).
2. Look to Christ for encouragement (Heb. 12:1-2).
3. Look to Christ and press on to victory (Phil. 3:7-14).
C. Remember, you who are soldiers of the cross, the Banner is always the chief object of attack.
The moment the adversary sees the banner waving, he sets out to knock it down. Every cannon of the enemy, every soldier of the enemies army is turned in one direction. 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. C.H. Spurgeon said, “When divine justice came forth against Christ on Calvary, it made five rents in the great banner, and those five rents, all glorious, are in that banner still. Since that day, many a shot has sought to riddle it, but not one has been able to touch it. Borne aloft, first by one hand and then by another, the mighty God of Jacob being the strength of the standard-bearers, that flag has bidden defiance to the leaguered hosts of the world, the flesh and the devil; but never has it been trailed in the mire, and never once carried in jeering triumph by the adversary. Blessed are the rents in the banner, for they are the symbol of our victory. Those five wounds in the Person of the Savior are the gates of Heaven to us. But, thank God, there are no more wounds to be endured; the Person of our Lord is safe forever. ‘A bone of him shall not be broken.’ His gospel, too, is yet unwounded, and his mystical body is uninjured.” 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. If he can, in our minds, succeed in any of these areas, he has defeated us.
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
5. The Fullness Of Christ’s Pardon
And Satan’s constant attacks upon our Banner are ever to be expected, because...
D. 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!” And when Christ is preached, we give defiance to the enemies of our Lord. Martin Luther used to hurl the Banner in a bold spirit. Whenever he got news of some new papal order against him, he would say, “Come, let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm and spite the devil.”
Let us ever lift up the standard of the cross in the face of the enemy, defiantly charging the gates of hell itself! This is not arrogance or presumption. We have no power over Stan in ourselves. But his power has been forever destroyed by the cross of Christ. And we defiantly hurl the Banner of his defeat in his face. The more his ministers attack the doctrine of the cross, the more defiantly we will wave the Banner of the Cross. And I assure you that 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, two thing will happen...
1. All the powers of hell will oppose him. He will be scorned and derided by both the religious and the secular world.
2. The Lord Jesus, Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord our Banner, will draw sinners to himself (John 12:32).
E. 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, would look 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 give their blood was safe, and that gave them consolation.
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, for which they live and suffer and even die, lifted up. How we rejoice in our Savior’s triumph! We fall, but Christ does not. We come down to the grave and depart in peace, knowing that the cause of Christ prospers still.
Illustration: Spurgeon’s consolation after the tragedy at Exeter Hall-Christ is Exalted! (Phil. 2:9-11).
F. 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, what is it that leads the procession? It is the flag, the banner under which and for which they have fought. Now that banner is 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!
II. SECONDLY, I WANT YOU TO SEE THAT CHRIST IS A BANNER TO THEM THAT FEAR HIM.
In Psalm 60:4 we read “Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth.” Read in connection with our text, this verse of Scripture tells us three things about our Lord Jesus Christ, whose name is Jehovah-Nissi.
A. Christ was given to us as our Banner by God Himself.
God our Father gave his dear Son to be our Banner of salvation in old eternity. From everlasting, before ever the earth was, the triune God agreed in love to give Christ, our Mediator and Substitute, to be our 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.” “Though hast given a Banner.” The Banner is Christ himself. And this Banner is given, as a free grace gift to men, by God the Father.
1. 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.
Once be brought me into his banqueting house, his banner over me was love, and he has been my banner and my glory ever since.
2. 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).
Illustration: “Stay right here!”
B. 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. And 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. And only those who fear God can carry this banner.
1. God gives the Banner to them that fear him, because the fear he has created in them will give them the courage to carry his Banner in the midst of his enemies.
2. And 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.
3. If you fear God, if you know, worship and trust the living God, this banner has been given to you!
I am speaking to everyone of you, young and old, men and women, every blood bough sinner here. If you are a believer, a child of God, Jehovah-Nissi is the Lord your Banner. I do not know in what capacity you are to carry it. But I do know this: there is a place in which you are to carry the Banner. Wherever you go, take your Banner with you. Never be ashamed of you colors!
Illustration: “Yes, I am an American!”
C. 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, children of God, to make it your daily business to study the Scriptures. Open this blessed Book. 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, even if you have to let other things go or steal time from your sleep.
1. To display the Banner, it must be lifted up.
2. If we would display the Banner, we must carry it into the world.
3. 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.
III. THIRDLY, I WANT YOU TO TURN TO ISAIAH 11:10, SO THAT I CAN SHOW YOU THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION: WHY IS CHRIST GIVEN TO BE OUR BANNER?
In this verse Isaiah gives 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.” 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).
A. I lift high Jehovah-Nissi, Christ our Banner, and call upon you to come to him.
1. As sheep to the shepherd (John 10:28; Song 1:7-8)
2. As doves to their window (Isa. 40:8); Ps. 116:7)
3. As children to their father (I John 1:1-3)
4. As chickens to the hen (Matt. 23:37)
If you come to Christ now, in true repentance and faith, you shall find rest in him. And his rest will be glorious! I also have this word of assurance...
B. There is a day coming in which you and I, along with all the hosts of God’s elect, shall be gathered unto him (II Thess. 2:1).
Where Isaiah said, “his rest shall be glorious,” it could be translated “His rest shall be glory!” blessed be God, we have found rest in Christ, rest from all our fears. But there is a rest yet to come in glory beyond our highest imagination (Heb. 4:9).
Children of God, 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! Ever keep close to him (Ps. 20:5).