Names of God – Jehovah Nissi
Jehovah Nissi means, “The Lord is My Banner.” We first see it used after the Hebrew people defeated the Amalekites in Exodus 17:14-16 “14 After the victory, the Lord instructed Moses, “Write this down on a scroll as a permanent reminder, and read it aloud to Joshua: I will erase the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” 15 Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-Nissi (which means “the Lord is my banner”).16 He said, “They have raised their fist against the Lord’s throne, so now the Lord will be at war with Amalek generation after generation.” So…what does that mean?
When we think banner today, we think advertisement, right. Those pop-up banners on the internet that are always in the way. Well, in Old Testament times, before the internet, banners had a different significance altogether. In fact, they had several different meanings.
First, they identified you. In the first 2 chapters of Numbers, God had each tribe of Israel put up a banner that identified which tribe they were. Numbers 2:2, “When the Israelites set up camp, each tribe will be assigned its own area. The tribal divisions will camp beneath their family banners on all four sides of the Tabernacle, but at some distance from it.”
Second, the banner was to call them to come together. Psalm 60:4 says, “But you have raised a banner for those who fear you—a rallying point in the face of attack.” When the soldiers were under attack, it could get chaotic and they didn’t have 2-way radios or satellite tracking…or satellites for that matter. So, they would raise a banner to regroup the troops. Later, in Isaiah 11:10-12, the profit prophecies about the second coming of Christ, and Him being a banner (Jehovah Nissi) to gather the saved, “10In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to him, and the land where he lives will be a glorious place. 11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to bring back the remnant of his people—those who remain in Assyria and northern Egypt; in southern Egypt, Ethiopia, and Elam; in Babylonia, Hamath, and all the distant coastlands. 12 He will raise a flag among the nations and assemble the exiles of Israel. He will gather the scattered people of Judah from the ends of the earth.” This goes back to what I keep saying. One of the key messages of the New Testament is the unity of the body of Christ. If the Lord calls us together, then why do we keep dividing ourselves with denominations? Now, in case you missed my earlier blogs, I’m not talking about the dread “ecumenicalism”, where, as some believe, everyone sets aside their beliefs and comes together, I’m talking about seeking God. For more depth on this subjects, you will need to go back to previous posts, but to put it in a nutshell, if we quit trying to interpret scripture and just believe it literally, in context, as a whole, we won’t need these divisions. The Lord is Our Banner, He wants to call us together.
Third, the banner would guide them through the battle. Depending on which banner was raised, the soldiers would know exactly where to go, where to stand when they got there, when to attack, and even when to retreat. Jeremiah 4:6 says, “Raise a signal flag as a warning for Jerusalem: ‘Flee now! Do not delay!’ For I am bringing terrible destruction upon you from the north.” So, God positions us where He needs us. And, He may reposition us on occasion. God has repositioned our family many times. Throughout the early years of our marriage, Michelle and I sang an old hymn by David Livingston, called “Lord, Send Me Anywhere”, and He did. Over the last 33 years of marriage we have moved more times than I want to count and lived in 7 different states, and I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. Let the Lord position you where He wants you. It will probably be difficult, but it will never be boring.
Fourth, banners kept the truth in front of them. Whether in battle, where they could always see what was happening or in the tabernacle, where the banners would focus them on the provision of God. But here’s the thing, banners don’t have to be literal banners either. In the first example, Moses built an altar; that was a type of banner in and of itself. Banners, proclaim the truth and remind us of it. And, remember what we learned in a previous post, the Lord is truth. He doesn’t just show us the truth, He is truth.
Lastly, banners proclaimed victory. As soon as they knew they had won the battle, they would raise their banner. We even saw this as recently as 1969 when Neil Armstrong planted the American flag on the moon. That act was signifying that we won the space race to the moon…it was a Victory Banner. Psalm 20:5 says, “May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers.” And, in Christ we have the victory, 1 Corinthians 15:57 “But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 8:37 “No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” 1 John 4:4 “But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.”
So, Jehovah Nissi has a lot of meanings. It doesn’t mean He’s our pop-up ad, and it doesn’t mean He’s a long narrow sign. What it does mean is, that the Lord is who identifies us, the Lord calls us together, the Lord guides us through battles and through life, the Lord keeps truth in front of us, and the Lord is our victory…that is truly awesome!