Why study the OT?
Paul explains the importance of NT saints studying the Old Testament:
1 Cor 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction (admonition), upon whom the ends of the ages have come
Romans 15:4 (Note) For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Click notes on Romans 15:4) (Click study of God's Hope)
What do you learn about testing from Abraham's Example?
Genesis 22:1 after these things… God tested Abraham… Ge 22:14 called the name of that place the LORD will provide (Jehovah Jireh, the Provider)
It is not merely a son that God requires of Abraham, it was his only son Isaac, the son whom he loved and the son who was the crucial foundation stone for the fulfillment of the covenant promise that Abraham would become the father of many nations. This was not only a staggering faith commitment; it was an enormous personal challenge. Abraham's response was immediate obedience with not even a word of objection recorded in Genesis 22:1-14.
And so if you desire to see God's blessings "unleashed" in your life and discover that God is your Jehovah Jireh, your Provider, then you must obey when tested. Abraham's obedience was immediate and unqualified. Don't be deceived: delayed obedience is immediate disobedience and partial obedience is complete disobedience. Is there some issue where you are only partially obeying what God has commanded? Our ability to claim and live by God's promises will come only when we first experience Him as Jehovah Jireh. In sum this Old Testament example teaches us that we must practice immediate obedience, must learn to trust Jehovah to be fully consistent with His nature, must believe that He is Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides, must be willing to place that which is most cherished in our life on the altar, surrendering it completely to Him, must be prepared to praise Him whether He restores our "Isaac" or removes it (fully cognizant that He is God, fully loving and altogether trustworthy) and finally must practice these principles daily.
Tested by Bitterness
In the days leading up to the revelation of God as Jehovah Nissi the children of Israel had experienced repeated testings:
Exodus 15:25 there (at the bitter waters of Marah) He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them them. He revealed Himself as Jehovah Rapha (Jehovah Rophe) declaring I the LORD am your Healer Ex 15:26
Israel had just experienced a great deliverance and Pharaoh's army had been destroyed by Jehovah and here at Marah they experience "defeat". Does it surprise you that great spiritual victory is often followed by defeat, discouragement, dissension, and depression?
Your adversary the devil, diabolos (word study) often intensifies his spiritual attack immediately after we experience spiritual victory, ever seeking to snatch away victory and dull our joy. He was successful at Marah. Israel may have thought that like we often do that our difficult circumstances put God to the test, when in fact our circumstances are often allowed by a sovereign God to test us. The pattern for victory when we face bitter, "Marah-like" circumstances which might otherwise bring discouragement, disillusionment and bitterness is to listen to God and obey His commands and to remember that God can turn them "sweet". Bitter circumstances actually test us and teach us to trust God to meet every need of our life.
Unbelief is often detected in one's spirit and attitude (which often includes grumbling). When we fall to see God's hand in our daily affairs and fail to trust Him for our daily provision, we often begin to fret and complain about our difficult "Marah-like" circumstances. Learn from the negative example of Israel that when you come to "Marah", first listen earnestly to the voice of God, seeking to know what He is trying to say to you in your present circumstances.
Remember that often we tend to hear God clearly when we are on the mountaintop of spiritual victory but when we get to "Marah", we must tune our ears attentively to the voice of the Lord. Ask yourself what God is saying through your circumstances, what God wants you to do and what have you learned about God from these events and then without hesitation do what is right or in other words, behave righteously, instead of responding by grumbling and complaining when you find yourself at Marah. Overcome your circumstances by focusing on the reliability of the nature of God Who never changes, and Whom you can rely on to always be loving and trustworthy and able to meet your every need. Finally, when you find yourself at bitter waters, examine your life to see if there are areas of disobedience. Remember that your willingness and desire to obey God emerges from the fact that you know His character.
If you have become sidetracked at Marah, bitter in your soul and spirit, feeling that life has been unfair to you, the only way you can go from Marah to Elim and find sweet water is to turn to Jehovah Rophe.
Tested by Plenty
Ex 16:4 "The LORD said to Moses "Behold I rain bread from heaven for you and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction."
Ex 16:12 God said "and you shall know (by experience) that I am the LORD your God."
Tested by Lack
Ex 17:2 No water caused Israel again to grumble and Moses ask "Why do you test the LORD?"
From these examples note how the names of God (character of God) was revealed during times of testing. Are we willing to persevere so that we might experience something our loving Father, learning something that we could never learned unless we had experienced the Refiner's fire (1Peter 1:7-note on testing of faith, Job 23:10, 11, 12-note)
When did this occur?
What did God allow?
Amalek (click) came and fought against Israel
What was Israel's war experience? How had they "defeated" the Egyptians?
Ex 14:13+ (As Pharaoh drew near) … Moses said to the people, "Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever.
Where did the Amalekite attack take place?
Rephidim = "Rests"
Who is Amalek?
Isn't there a bit of "Esau" in us all… we are so prone to lose sight of "eternal" truths, instead giving in to our temporal desires?
"Esau bore a grudge
Verb tense for "bore grudge" (in the Septuagint) = imperfect denoting an action repeated over and over again. So we can begin to understand the deep root of enmity Amalek ("Esau") held for Israel ("Jacob").
What was Amalek's strategy?
(Context: a section from Moses' instruction to the Second generation of Israel just prior to entering the promised land)
"Remember what Amalek did to you along the way when you came out from Egypt how he met you along the way and attacked among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore it shall come about when Jehovah your Elohim has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies, in the land which Jehovah your Elohim gives you as an inheritance to possess, you shall blot out (click note) the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget Deut 25:17, 18, 19
Note what Elijah did to the enemies of God in 1Ki 18:40 (Spurgeon's comment)
Am I giving aid to brethren in the faith who have straggled behind because they have become faint and weary?
Do I disregard & disrespect them because of their "weakness"?
Am I thinking lightly of God's command to blot out the "Amalekites" in my life?
Note that "forget" is a keyword in Deuteronomy so we must be especially careful to heed this command to "not forget" (uses of "forget" in Deut)
The Second Battle Israel Waged was again with Amalekites: Nu 14:42, 43, 44, 45
"Do not go up, lest you be struck down before your enemies, for Jehovah is not among you. (this truth is key when we go into spiritual warfare! see Ep 6:10ff-notes) For the Amalekites and the Canaanites will be there in front of you and you will fall by the sword, inasmuch as you have turned back from following Jehovah. And Jehovah will not be with you. (disobedience resulted in loss of God's power and presence) But (they continue to disobey) they went up heedlessly to the ridge of the hill country; neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses left the camp. Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down, and struck them and beat them down as far as Hormah.
Then the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of Jehovah and Jehovah gave them into the hands of Midian seven years and the power of Midian prevailed against Israel. (How could this principle apply to a believer?) Because of Midian the sons of Israel made for themselves the dens which were in the mountains and the caves & the strongholds. For it was when Israel had sown, that the Midianites would come up with the Amalekites the sons of the east and go against them. So they would camp against them and destroy the produce of the earth as far as Gaza, and leave no sustenance in Israel as well as no sheep, ox, or donkey.
When did Amalekites attack?
Contrast the outcome of the battles in Judges with Amalek and the battle in Ex 17:13: "So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword."
Why is the outcome different?
Had God changed -- was He no longer Jehovah Nissi in Judges?
From these examples of defeat in Numbers and Judges, when am I most likely to be attacked and defeated by the Amalekites in my life?
While they may attack after a time of blessing as they did in Exodus 17, they may also attack after a time of disobedience which will quench the power of God's Spirit in my life!
Lesson: Confess sins ASAP!
(click for more on Amalek)
How did Moses respond?
What's God doing w/ Joshua?
Training Joshua to succeed Moses & wage war upon the entry into Canaan.
What is God training you for?
Do the trials seem to never end, to be w/o any obvious purpose?
As Cromwell said to his men: "Trust in Providence and keep your powder dry"
Joshua did as Moses told
He obeys, submits, serves
Fought against Amalek
How was battle won Ex 17:11? (note)
How does he explain? Ex 17:12 (note)
How do following verses help understand Aaron & Hur's role?
What was the result in Ex 17:13?
So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek w/ edge of sword
What was purpose?
To learn war (Jdg 3:1,2-note , Pr 17:3)
How do the following verses relate to the war against Amalek?
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Php 2:12+, Php 2:13+)
What some lessons for life?
Moses by the staff in his hand looked for victory to God alone, & did not trust the “arm of flesh”
The staff of God was clearly a symbol of the presence of God's omnipotent power over evil, over nature, over every circumstance however hopeless (click comment)
"Seeing the Lord and rallying behind him as our banner lifts us above the demands and accusations; it frees us from their crushing effect. And amazingly enough, it also frees us to invest in those who make the demands and accusations. And as they see us rally behind the Lord, they do as well, even those who may have been griping about us earlier. In the First Battle of Bull Run in the Civil War, Gen. Thomas Jonathan Jackson was leading the Virginia troops of the Confederacy. One man from another division saw Jackson mounted on his horse, leading his troops, and pronounced, "There stands Jackson like a stone wall! Rally behind the Virginians!" They did so, and the Confederacy won a decisive and surprising victory at the outset of the war, dashing the Union's hopes for a quick victory. And Thomas Jonathan Jackson was thereafter known as Stonewall Jackson. That day, he was the "banner" for the Confederate troops. Although shots were flying all around them, they saw Jackson, standing before them, as impregnable as a stone wall, and rallied behind him. Similarly, the LORD is our Banner. (Jehovah Nissi) Although demands and accusations may be flying all around us, we are to look to the LORD Who stands before us and rally behind Him… the LORD gives us a vision of Himself, in the Scriptures and in our own experience, of His trustworthiness. And it is that vision that inspires us to rally to the LORD, lifting us above the demands and accusations. And from that position, above the fray, so to speak, we are free to re-enter the fray and invest in people - even the people who earlier were accusing us. Although people can be demanding and accusative, rally behind the LORD and don't give up on them." (Scott Grant - Rally Behind the LORD)
What does God say in Ex 17:14?
Write this in a book as a Memorial (cf Ex 12:13, 14+, Jos 4:7)
Recite it to Joshua = Literally "set [it] in the ears of Joshua"
THOUGHT - Have you commemorated the "victories" Jehovah Nissi has given you over the "Amalekites" in your life so that in future "wars" you might look back & be reminded of His faithfulness to provide victory in His way & in His timing? He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Remember past victories and run again & again to Him and take Refuge (see Greek meaning of Jehovah Nissi below) in the Strong Tower of Jesus, our Banner, our rallying point.
How does Moses respond in Ex 17:15?
Jehovah Nissi in the Greek (LXX) = "kurios mou kataphuge" which in English which translated means
The Lord My Refuge
For interesting parallel see this same word kataphuge in (Ps 46:1)
God is our refuge and strength,
Who is Jehovah Nissi?
Isa 11:10+ Then it will come about in that day (what "Day"?) that the nations (who are "nations" in Scripture?) will resort to the root of Jesse (Who is this?) Who will stand as a signal (Hebrew word = nec = banner)
(Isa 11:12) He (Who?) will lift up a standard (nec) for the nations and will assemble the banished ones of Israel and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth ().
Even today a banner is a standard that bears the colors by which a military unit is identified and behind which troops rally. The "standard-bearer" carries the colors and marching bands are often led by people carrying a banner that identifies the band, and after which the musicians fall in line. So when Moses names the altar Jehovah Nissi, The Lord is my Banner, he proclaims as a memorial - "I rally behind Jehovah. It is He to Whom I look. It is He Whom I will follow."
LORD our Banner
A wonderful picture of God's protection & deliverance under imagery of a banner >
Ps 60:4 Thou hast given a banner to those who fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah. 5 That Thy beloved may be delivered, Save with Thy right hand, and answer us!
Ps 20:5 We will sing for joy over your victory, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the LORD fulfill all your petitions.
How Amalek characterized? Exodus 17:16 (commentary)
Jehovah will have war against Amalek from generation to generation
Haman a descendant of the Amalekite, Agag, tried to exterminate the Jews (Esther 3:1, 6+) which illustrates the point of Exodus 17:16 Haman's defeat is commemorated by the Jewish festival of Purim. See more detailed discussion below.
ILLUSTRATION - A terrible fire was raging, and many attempts were being made to save a child who stood at a top window frantically waving and calling for help. One man, braver than the rest, put forth a last bold endeavor to rescue the boy. Sensing the almost impossible odds, and fearing he might fail, someone in the crowd cried, "Cheer him, cheer him!" The people caught the words and shouted loudly. Inspired and encouraged by their support, the man doubled his efforts and rescued the child from the flames.
Even as Moses needed the assistance of Aaron and Hur, so today those called to spiritual leadership need the undergirding of the people to whom they minister. How can you help your pastor, your Bible study leader, etc? Their work is demanding, often discouraging, and fraught with many attacks by the "Amalekites". Christian leaders need your encouragement (word) and support (deed). When was the last time you "took hold" of your pastor's hand and verbally expressed your gratitude for his ministry? A word properly timed will be, in effect, "holding up his hands," and will help to assure spiritual victory in your church under the banner of Jehovah Nissi!
O "hold up the hands" of the worker for Christ,
What does Amalek picture ("type")?
Enemies of God's people (discussion)
How do we win the battle against the "Amalekites"?
What do we learn from Joshua?
Obedience (Joshua 1:7, 8-note, 11:15)
Joshua was submitted to authority as an obedient servant. During the first half of his life, he obeyed Moses; and during the last half, he received his orders from the Lord. Joshua was a man zealous for Jehovah (click for characteristics of a zealous man).
What do we learn of warfare?
Staff of God ~ His "banner over" us (Song 2:4) symbolizes His presence, His power & His provision. Even as He provided food & water He gives us victory in spiritual warfare. When confronted with "Amalekites" don't depend on your zeal or ingenuity to defeat them but on your rallying point, Jehovah Nissi (Ro 8:26, 27-note; Hebrews 7:25-note)
What's Value of Memorials?
1 Sa 12:24 Only fear the LORD & serve Him in truth w/ all your heart, for consider what great things He has done for you.
Who are the "Amalekites" in your life?
According to God's word what are we to do w/ the "Amalekites"?
See Dt 25:19, Ex 17:14
Click Exposition of Exodus 17:8-16
|Deuteronomy 25:19||Exodus 17:14|
|"you shall blot out the memory of Amalek"||"I (Jehovah) will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek"|
"Work out your salvation with fear & trembling"
"It is God Who is at work in you
|Ray Stedman's (see his full sermon Power to Please) insight on Romans 15:4 as to why studies such as this one on Jehovah Nissi are important…
|Characteristic of a Zealous Man: (like Moses or Joshua):
"A zealous man in religion is pre-eminently a man of one thing. It is not enough to say that he is earnest, hearty, uncompromising, thorough-going, whole-hearted, fervent in spirit. He only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God. Whether he lives, or whether he dies—whether he has health, or whether he has sickness—whether he is rich, or whether he is poor—whether he pleases man, or whether he gives offence—whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish—whether he gets blame, or whether he gets praise—whether he get honor, or whether he gets shame—for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all. He burns for one thing; and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God’s glory. If he is consumed in the very burning, he cares not for it-he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him. Such a one will always find a sphere for his zeal. If he cannot preach, work, and give money, he will cry, and sigh, and pray… If he cannot fight in the valley with Joshua, he will do the work of Moses, Aaron, and Hur, on the hill (Ex 17:9, 10, 11, 12, 13). If he is cut off from working himself, he will give the Lord no rest till help is raised up from another quarter, and the work is done. This is what I mean when I speak of ‘zeal’ in religion." (10,000 Sermon Illustrations. bible.org) (See 21 part series: "Biblical Characteristics of a Christian Leader")
|Spurgeon on the "FAINT and WEARY" stragglers attacked by the Amalekites in Deut 25:17-19:
A Fourth Tower is JEHOVAH-NISSI
This reminds all of us who have given public testimony of our faith in Christ, that we are still in an enemy's country. You remember how Bunyan (to quote the great Dreamer again) represents Christiana and her children knocking at the Gate; while in a castle, near by, there were those who were assailing them. If any leave a Communion-table to return to the world in their own strength, they shall assuredly fall. But we go not a warfare on our own charges. "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God," and He who is for us, is greater than all that can be against us.
Let our moral attitude be like the workmen on the walls of Zion in Nehemiah's time, building with the sword girded by our side; ever ready, when the missiles are flying thick and fast around, to flee to Him who is a "High Tower against the enemy," and who thus invites all weak and helpless ones—"Come, my people, enter into your chambers, and shut your doors about you; hide yourself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast" (Isa. 26:20). This is the true Tower of King David, built for an armory, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men (Song 4:4). "Blessed is the people who know the joyful sound—they shall walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance. In Your name shall they rejoice all the day and in Your righteousness shall they be exalted. For You are the glory of their strength—and in Your favor our horn shall be exalted. For the Lord is our DEFENSE—and the Holy One of Israel is our king" (Ps. 89:15-18).—"We will walk in this name of the Lord our God forever and ever."
|Spurgeon's "Morning and Evening" Note related to blotting out the Amalekites in Deut 25:17-19:
"Let not one of them escape." --1Ki 18:40
|John Piper commenting on the world system exhorts believers declaring that…
I. The fight with Amalek was Israel’s first battle, and God made it to them THE REVELATION OF THE MYSTERY OF ALL BATTLES--the unseen spiritual things on which depend the final issues of all struggles and the progress of the world.
II. The text is THE REVELATION TO US OF THE MYSTERY OF THE GREAT BATTLE in which we are all combatants, the battle OF LIFE. “Jehovahnissi” must be our watchword, if we would not doom ourselves to go down before the foe.
The use of this name by the Church bespeaks -
1. Her militant condition. "The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation."
2. The side on which she fights - "My banner."
3. The name round which she rallies - "Jehovah." "One Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 6:5).
4. The confidence by which she is inspired. The inscription on a banner frequently sets forth the ground of confidence. "God and my right."
5. The certainty she has of victory. - J. Orr
I. THE ALTAR A MEMORIAL OF AN HISTORIC FACT. Great battle of Rephidim. One of the most remarkable. The enemy--crafty, cruel, cowardly--attacked the rear where the young, aged, women, etc. (Deut 25:17-18). Israelites unarmed, unused to warfare. Taken by surprise in the rear. They could succeed only by the help of God.
II. The altar a record of religious duty.
III. This altar an expression of pious sentiments.
Jehovah my banner
I. By the name Jehovah, therefore, GOD IS DECLARED AS THE SUPREME REALITY. So the Greeks render it, “He who is”; and John, in the Apocalypse, “Grace and peace to you from Him which is, and which was, and which cometh.” No grace or peace, verily, from things that are not! “Say unto the children of Israel”--so He authenticated Moses--“I AM hath sent me unto you.” The finite demands the Infinite; the chain of causes and effects hangs upon the Uncaused; all creatures unite to point to their Creator, and by their very being proclaim His, in whom they live, and move, and are.” But I hear some one saying, “This is metaphysics; this is very obscure and transcendental doctrine, this talk about the Absolute and Uncaused. How could ideas of this sort ever have existed or been entertained in these early and barbarous times? But everything depends on the way in which you take notions of this kind. To ancient Israel--the true Israel of spiritual faith--this was no philosophical abstraction, arrived at by a process of difficult reasoning: it was the revelation of an immediate and self-evidencing fact. Behind all sensible objects, the forms of nature, the movements of human affairs--there He is! They discerned, they felt the presence of Another--the real, the abiding, the living God, breathing on their spirits by His breath, searching their hearts with holy eyes, as of flame; He who said to their souls, “I AM,” and concerning whom they could say, as neither of their mortal selves nor of the fleeting world, “Yea, and of a truth, He is.” Hence this name was a standing protest and denouncement against all idolatry. “The name of Jehovah,” so their proverb ran, “is a strong tower; the righteous runneth into it and is safe.” “I am Jehovah,” says the Lord in Isaiah, “that is My name; and My glory will I not give to another, neither My praise to graven images.” You see the argument. If He is, then they are not. His very name annihilates them. It was this sublime and solid faith in the unity and sovereignty and spiritual reality of God, that lifted the Jewish people above superstition and the fear of worldly power. See the whole history of Israel gathered into a single incident. “Thou comest unto me,” said David to Goliath, “with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield; but I come to thee in the name of Jehovah of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied!” Here is the one immortal certainty, the Rock of Ages.
II. THIS GLORIOUS NAME PROCLAIMS THE ETERNITY OF GOD. His reality is our strength; His eternity our consolation. If you turn to the French Bible you will find Jehovah translated, in place of our English “Lord,” by l’Eternel, “The Eternal.” This rendering is often singularly apt and true, as for instance in Psa 102:1-28., where the Psalmist in melancholy mood is sighing, “My days are as a shadow that declineth, and I am withered like grass.” But he remembers the name of his God, and he continues: “But Thou, O Eternal, sittest King for ever; and Thy memorial is unto all generations.” And from that point in his song he mounts up as on the wings of eagles. God’s name is the He Is--a timeless present, a perpetual now. John expands it backwards and forwards into the everlasting past and future: “Grace and peace to you from Him which is, and which was, and which cometh.” Men live and die; empires rise and fall; worlds and systems of worlds run through their courses, and dissolve and vanish like a puff of smoke; still He Is; always He Is; the unchanged, the abiding God, whose being fills and constitutes eternity. There is no thought so sublime and overwhelming to the human mind as that of the eternity of God. But there is none more restful, more soothing and satisfying. “We which have believed,” it is written, “do enter into rest.” Here we touch the calm of eternity, the “Sabbath of God.” We have found a haven which no storm can ruffle, a rock to build upon which no earthquake will ever move. You find great religious minds, like that of St. Augustine in his Confessions, constantly returning to this thought as their solace and shelter, hovering round it as birds about their nest; here they find an ever-renewed spring of mental strength, of spiritual joy and courage. The Jews have been not unfitly called “the people of eternity.” Their monumental endurance, the toughness and indestructible vitality of their national fibre, are due, to no small extent, to the force with which the doctrine of Jehovah has possessed them. It would seem that the revelation of personal immortality was not made in the early ages to the men of Israel, that their souls might be the more completely filled and absorbed with the thought of God Himself--His being, His character; that they might find in “Jehovah the portion of their inheritance and their cup.”
III. JEHOVAH IS THE SPECIFIC NAME, THE PROPER AND PERSONAL NAME OF THE GOD OF REVELATION AND REDEMPTION. It is, so to speak, the Divine autograph written across the face of Scripture; it is nothing less than the signature of the Eternal attached to His covenant of grace; its very presence on the page, the sublimity of its import, and the transcendent dignity and force with which it is employed, fill the mind with awe, and compel one to say as he reads and listens, “Surely God is in this place.” To the believing Israelite this name was a summary of revelation past. The call of Moses, the judgment upon Pharaoh, the passage of the Red Sea, the lawgiving on Sinai, the conquest of Canaan--all these and a thousand glorious recollections clustered round this immortal name, and served for its verifying or illustration. And it was at the same time the basis and starting-point of future revelations. Having learnt to say He Is, they could go on to say: “He is just, He is wise, He is faithful, He is merciful and gracious--Jehovah of Hosts, Jehovah our Righteousness, Jehovah our Peace, Jehovah our Banner.” In Himself unchangeable, in His manifestations to mankind God is perpetually new. He is ever advancing and unfolding Himself to His creation. The “He Is” of the Bible is no frozen, silent Impersonality, like the Pure Being of Greek philosophy, or like Spinoza’s Infinite Substance. This is the name of the living, self-declaring God, whose revelation is the single stream that runs through all cosmical and human history, the working of whose counsel forms the process of the ages. His name, like “His mercies,” is “new every morning.”
IV. Finally, this glorious name of God IS A CREED, A CONFESSION OF FAITH. God says to Moses, through Moses to Israel, through Israel to the world, “I AM”: faith answers back, “He Is”; and “this is His name for ever, and His memorial unto all generations.” Pronouncing it in spirit and in truth, we “set to our seal that God is true.” It is the communion of heaven and earth, the dialogue between man and his Creator; it is the Church’s Amen answering back to God’s self-affirming Yea. And “Ye are My witnesses,” saith Jehovah, “even Israel whom I have chosen.” Despite its apostasies and its chastisements, nay, even by virtue of them, the Jewish nation has proved itself the people of Jehovah, the witness of the true God. Israel has made the nations hear the voice of her God; and now they are sitting at the feet of her prophets, learning of His ways. It is the flag of conflict, the symbol of a faith which has the world to overcome. So our text continues, with a prophetic symbolism that has proved itself all too true: “And Moses said, Jehovah hath sworn that He will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” “All nations compassed me about,” said Israel, in worldly power the smallest and least considerable of the peoples--“Yea, they compassed me about; but in the name of Jehovah I will destroy them!” And what is more, she has done it; her faith, her Christ have done it I Those gigantic and cruel empires of the East, with their vile and sensual idolatries, have passed away for ever. Isaiah sang their doom ages before: “They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise. Therefore hast Thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish.” Fact is stranger than fiction. The true God has lived down the false ones. The “He Is” must displace the “are nots.” As it has been, so it will be. Moloch and Belial and Mammon--the gods of hate and lust and greed, the gods of this world that still rule in the nations and blind the souls of men--oldest of all false gods, which men formed out of their own evil passions, before they set them up in wood and stone--as the Lord liveth, they shall surely perish! If the Church is worthy of her faith, she will say like David, “In the name of Jehovah I will destroy them.” And these latest idols, which our fathers knew not, of modern nature-worship and scientific materialism, will they fare any better, do you suppose? The name Jehovah, we have said, is a confession of faith. It is a personal confession, which only personal experience qualifies us properly to make. It is not enough to read it in the Bible, to understand and assent to its theological and historical import; God Himself must pronounce His own “I AM,” must “speak into our soul His name.” Jesus is to us the revealer of Jehovah. “I have declared unto them Thy name,” He said to the Father in leaving this world, “and will declare it.” The name Jehovah--the Absolute, the Eternal, the Creator, the living God--Christ has rendered into the tender yet no less awful name of Father. (G. G. Findlay, B. A.)
I. JEHOVAH IS OUR TOKEN OF DECISION. In the opening days of the first French Revolution, it is said that a timid trimmer fixed a cockade beneath the lappel of his coat on one breast, and a tricolour in the corresponding portion on the other; and that when he met a royalist he exposed the cockade, and shouted, “Long live the king!” but when he met a republican he showed the tricolour, and cried, “Long live the Republic!” That, however, sufficed only for a short time: for as the strife increased, every man was forced to make a decision between the two. So sometimes, in times of indifference, it has been possible for men to seem to combine the services of God and mammon; but happily, as I think, for us, we have fallen on an earnest age, in which it is becoming impossible even to seem to be neutral. Everywhere the cry is raised, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” and it becomes us all to hoist our flag, and display to the world in its expanding folds this old inscription, “Jehovah-nissi--the Lord is my banner.” When Hedley Vicars, the Christian soldier, was converted, he knew that he should be made the butt of much ridicule, and the victim of much petty persecution by his comrades; so he resolved to be beforehand with them, and in the morning on which he made his decision he took his Bible and laid it down open on his table. Very soon a fellow-officer came in, and, looking at the book, exclaimed, “Hallo, Vicars! turned Methodist?” To which he made reply, “That is my flag; and, by the grace of God, I hope to be true to it as long as I live.” That was his Rephidim, and there he, too, conquered Amalek by raising the banner of the Lord. So let it be with you.
II. JEHOVAH IS OUR MARK OF DISTINCTION. When, in travelling through England, one comes on the stately residence of some duke or earl, and sees the flag floating in quiet dignity from its turret, he knows from that indication that the proprietor is himself within the walls. Now, the distinguishing peculiarity of the Christian is that God, to whom he belongs, is, by His Spirit, dwelling within him, and that shows itself in many ways. It is apparent in the love by which he is animated for all who are in suffering, sorrow, or want. It is seen in the purity of speech and conduct which he maintains; in the earnestness of his devotion to the will of Christ; and in the eager efforts which he makes to attain to that perfection of character which he sees in his Lord.
III. JEHOVAH IS OUR JOY. When we make demonstration of our enthusiasm, we raise a whole forest of flagstaffs, and fix on each an appropriate banner. Let it be the commemoration of some victory, or the welcome to some foreign prince visiting our shores, and the whole city is gay with flags, while the emblems of many nationalities are seen fluttering in friendly fellowship from the mastheads of the ships in harbour. So we are reminded, by the inscription on this altar, that “the joy of the Lord” is “the strength” of the Christian. His life is one of constant gladness; his characteristic is what I may call a calm enthusiasm, or, to use the phrase of Jonathan Edwards, a “quiet rapture.”
IV. GOD IS THE PROTECTOR OF HIS PEOPLE. There is nothing of which a nation is so jealous as the honour of its flag, and he who is in reality a citizen has a right to the protection of the government. Great Britain has few prouder chapters in her recent history than that which tells of the expedition to Abyssinia some years ago. A great force was landed on the Red Sea shore; a large, troublesome, and dangerous march of many days was made into an enemy’s country; a fierce assault was successfully attempted on a hitherto impregnable fortress; many lives were lost, and fifty millions of dollars were spent--and all for what? Because a brutal tyrant was keeping in horrid imprisonment two or three men who had a right to the protection of the British flag; and you can hardly conceive what an outburst of joy broke forth from the nation when the news came that they had been set free, and that the insulting monarch had been made to bite the dust. But what is the power of the British Empire, in comparison with Omnipotence? Yet he who sincerely raises this banner has God’s pledge that He will protect him (see Joh 10:28-29; Joh 16:33; Isa 41:10; Isa 54:17). (W. M. Taylor, D. D.)
The Lord my banner
I. In the first place, this covenant banner is a wonderful banner when looked at with reference to its ANTIQUITY. It is very easy indeed to tell, for ourselves individually, when we were first made acquainted with this banner. With some it was in the lessons of earliest childhood. With others, it was later on in life, when our knowledge of it began. When this banner was first unfurled, for any of our race to gaze upon, it is easy enough to tell. We go back to the garden of Eden. But this is only the date of its first unfolding. The design of it was not first formed then. To get at this, we must go back far, far beyond that distant date. That takes us indeed to the farthest shores of time. Standing there we gaze upon the ocean that lies before us. It is the shoreless ocean of an unmeasured eternity. Far back in its hidden depths the design of this banner was formed.
II. But now, let us take another look at this banner, and we shall see that it is not less wonderful in its MATERIAL than in its antiquity. The material of which our flags or banners are ordinarily composed is a coarse woollen substance known as bunting. True, we sometimes see banners made of more costly materials, as silk or satin. And gold and silver, and jems and jewels, are not unfrequently employed to enrich and adorn the material employed in making the banner. These things, of course, very greatly enhance the value of the banners on which they are employed. But when we speak of the Lord as our banner, and think of His revealed truth as the material of which this banner is composed, and then contrast it with the material of which our ordinary banners are made, how unspeakable the difference! Jehovah-nissi--the Lord my banner. All the names, or titles, or symbols applied to God in Scripture, are the elements of truth that make Him known. And so it is when He is spoken of as the covenant banner, unfurled over His people. The folds of this banner are woven out of the truth of His blessed word--“the truth as it is in Jesus.” This constitutes the material of which this banner is composed.
III. But in the third place, it is a wonderful banner when we consider THE MOTTOES inscribed upon it. The banner of England has in French the words--“God and my duty.” The idea thus embodied is, “My duty to God--and my duty to my country.” This simply expresses what should be the foremost thought and desire with every Christian patriot. And the mottoes on the banners of other nations are of a similar character. They are expressive, for the most part, of some sentiment of honour, or some principle of duty to the country over which they float. But the contrast is very striking, when we compare this banner of the covenant with other banners in regard to the mottoes which they bear. Each other banner bears but a single motto--while this bears many: those mainly refer to some matter of personal obligation and duty--while these refer to matters of high and glorious privilege. Every page of the volume of revealed truth may be regarded as a distinct fold of this covenant banner; and emblazoned on each fold is one or more of these inspiring mottoes.
IV. It is a wonderful banner, in the fourth place, when considered with reference to its INFLUENCE on the hearts and lives of men. Doubtless the flag of every nation has a history, in this respect, that would be deeply interesting if the incidents connected with it could be collected and written out. But who can tell how many hearts have been stirred, and how many enterprises of great pith and moment have been started, and led on to successful issues, by the influence of this blessed banner? Every motto emblazoned on its waving folds, or, in other words, every passage of saving truth within the leaves of the Bible, has a history of its own. How wanderers have been reclaimed!--how slumbering consciences have been aroused!--how anxious inquiries have been directed!--how depraved hearts have been renewed!--how sorrowing spirits have been comforted!--how listless energies have been quickened and consecrated!--how useless lives have been ennobled land lost souls have been saved, through the influence of the mottoes on this banner--or of particular passages of God’s Word--who can tell!
V. And then, lastly, this is a wonderful banner in view of its DURABILITY. This is a quality which cannot be imparted to our national banners. The materials of which they are made is frail--and subject to decay. But how different it is with the banner of the covenant of our salvation! This is something which the hand of violence cannot rend. Time, with his effacing finger, can make no impression upon it. (R. Newton, D. D.)
By whom was David taught,
To aim the dreadful blow,
When he Goliath fought,
And laid the Gittite low?
No sword nor spear the stripling took,
But chose a pebble from the brook.
'Twas Israel's God and king,
Who sent him to the fight;
Who gave him strength to fling,
And skill to aim aright.
Ye feeble saints your strength endures,
Because young David's God is yours.
Who ordered Gideon forth,
To storm th' invaders' camp,
With arms of little worth,
A pitcher and a lamp?
The trumpets made his coming known,
And all the host was overthrown.
Oh! I have seen the day,
When with a single word,
God helping me to say,
My trust is in the Lord;
My soul has quelled a thousand foes,
Fearless of all that could oppose.
But unbelief, self-will,
Self-righteousness and pride,
How often do they steal
My weapon from my side?
Yet David's Lord and Gideon's friend,
Will help his servant to the end