By Any Other Name - Jehovah Nissi
Did anyone watch the Summer Olympics this year?
My oldest daughter, Shannon, is a varsity swimmer, and my younger daughters have both swam competitively, so I'm pretty into swimming. So I had a good time watching Michael Phelps this year. The best part, for me, of the Olympics is the whole medal award deal. They get the three top atheletes on the three tiered pedestal, and play the national anthem of the winner. And while they are doing that, they hoist the flags.
Flags and banners are important to people. When the atheletes come marching into the stadium, they are preceeded by their flags. Units in parades almost always have flags and banners in front. When armies marched in days of old, there were always flags marking each unit. We've all seen the movies where the kings and knights rode off to battle, flags fluttering in the breeze. When ships go to war, they "hoist the colors" so that the enemy will know who they are fighting. When a victorious army takes over the enemy camp, the first thing they do is hoist the flag. One of the most iconic images in American history is Joe Rosenthal's picture of U.S. Marines raising the flag on Mt. Suribachi after the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Banners symbolize victory. They symbolize strength and power. They also symbolize things that are worthy to be remembered. In the time of Moses, altars were often built as rememberances as well, to mark the spot where something important happened. So it was when the Israelites defeated Amalek in Exodus 17. Israel would prevail in battle as long as Moses prayed and held his arms up, and when he grew weary, Aaron and Hur held up his arms.
When the battle was over, the Lord told Moses to write down the story, and read it in the hearing of Joshua. And so Moses built an altar, and named the place Jehovah-Nissi, "the Lord is my banner." Interestingly, the text tells us that the Lord "...will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." Yet it also says "…the Lord has sworn: the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." At first, this seems contradictory; if Amalek is to be blotted out of history, why would the Lord have battles with it?
The answer lies in the fact that while Amalek was completely and utterly destroyed at the hand of the Lord, other Amaleks would rise up in it's place. Amalek is not so much a nation as an idea - that things will always come up against us. And when we gain one victory, another Amalek will rise up in it's place to challenge us.
So we need to face the Amaleks in our life, and call upon the Lord for the victory as Moses did. Moses did not take up sword and fight the enemy on his own; he stood on the hill and prayed to the Lord to fight the battle for them, to strengthen the arms of Joshua and the others, that they would defeat their enemies. Likewise, we need not face battles in our own strength. When we call upon God, He is faithful. And God will always win His battles.
Next: Jehovah Shalom, my prince of peace.