Yehovah Nissi – The Lord is My Banner
The 7th of September was a tough day for me. It was the day I spent typing this sermon. There are a lot of names and places in these few verses and none of them are without significance. What the account pictures was eluding me and I was more caught up in the mechanical aspects of the passage and less in what it pictured.
But, God is good and He is good all the time. I went to one commentary on the passage outside of my regular sources of study and the line of reasoning that they gave was sufficient to direct me to an overall picture of what was being presented. From there, the mechanical details fell into beautiful pictures of Christ.
How the Lord can pack so much into just 9 verses is beyond me. And I fear that I’ve just touched on the magnificence of them. There are surely patterns in the letters – numerical and pictorial patterns. There are surely patterns in the structure of the verses as well. But those are left to be discovered by another. I am just pleased to have made it through the 7th of September without a broken brain vessel.
Text Verse: Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another,
And the Lord listened and heard them;
So a book of remembrance was written before Him
For those who fear the Lord
And who meditate on His name.
17 “They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts,
“On the day that I make them My jewels.
And I will spare them
As a man spares his own son who serves him.”
18 Then you shall again discern
Between the righteous and the wicked,
Between one who serves God
And one who does not serve Him. Malachi 3:16-18
Malachi writes about a book of remembrance. The idea of writing something in a book is to accomplish exactly that – remembrance. God has given us a wondrous book of remembrance. We call it the Holy Bible. The very germ of that book is found in today’s passage. Since then, it has become a book of history, of love, of doctrine, and of looking into the very heart and mind of God.
Let us ever cherish this marvelous book which He has blessed us with. So much wonder and so much beauty is to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. War with Amalek (verses 8-13)
8 Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
During the last sermon which dealt with water from the Rock, the account began in Rephidim which was mentioned in verse 1. After that, it seemed that the name was changed by the end of the story to Massah and Meribah, but I noted that instead the name Rephidim was given because of the account, not changed during the account.
This first verse of this account confirms that. Massah and Meribah are where the water flowed from, not where Israel is encamped. The name Rephidim gives the idea of Rest and also Support. The people received their rest and their support from the waters, even if it was first contention and testing which occurred before they received the waters of Massah and Meribah.
Now, all of a sudden, another story is introduced in this same place, Rephidim. At Rephidim, their place of rest and support, Amalek has shown up and fought with Israel. This is actually explained later in Deuteronomy 25 –
“Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, 18 how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. 19 Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.” Deuteronomy 25:17-19
This passage in Deuteronomy ties in “rest from your enemies” with the destruction of Amalek. In Exodus, the people were weary, implying they had no rest, and it is at this time that Amalek attacked the stragglers. And yet, this is in Rephidim, a name which is a plural noun coming from the verb raphad which means “to spread (a bed).” And so by implication it means the place of “rests” or “comforts.”
We are being given marvelous hints of why the story is included and how to interpret what the word is showing us. Next, the name Amalek needs to be explained. Amalek’s birth is recorded in Genesis 36:12 –
“Now Timna was the concubine of Eliphaz, Esau’s son, and she bore Amalek to Eliphaz. These were the sons of Adah, Esau’s wife.”
Just a few verses later he is noted as one of the chiefs of the tribes of Esau. No mention of him has been made since then and now he is reintroduced into the story. The name Amalek is derived from the word am, or people, and from the word malaq which “means to nip or wring off the head of a bird with or without severing it from the body. It’s used only in Leviticus 1:15 and 5:8.” (Abarim)
Thus, they are the “The People Who Wring Off.” They are those who are disconnected from the body and strive to disconnect the body. The name is introduced here along with the account as a picture of something else.
These brutal people would have noticed the Israelites traveling through Sinai and would have been heated up over the idea that Israel’s flocks would eat up all the pasturage. In a cowardly way of handling the problem, they nipped away at the weakest of the people while not directly attacking the main body.
9 And Moses said to Joshua, “Choose us some men and go out, fight with Amalek.
Suddenly, and without any other explanation concerning who he is, Joshua is introduced into the Bible. His name is actually Yehoshua which comes from two separate words – the first is a shortened form of the Divine name Yehovah, and the second comes from the root-verb yasha which means “to save” or “to deliver.”
It is the same root-verb from which the name of Jesus, or Yeshua, is derived. Thus the name should alert us that he is a type of Christ, the incarnate word of God. His name means “Yah is Salvation.” Interestingly, in Hebrew his name is the precise reversal of the name of the prophet Isaiah – or Salvation of the Lord.
With no actual introduction other than the giving of his name, Joshua is instructed to choose men. Moses leaves it up to him to decide on who is best qualified to win the battle which is coming. It is up to him then who will defeat the foe Amalek.
Next Moses instructs him to “go out” to fight against Amalek. By instructing him to “go out” it implies that the battle will be conducted outside the camp of Israel. A picture is forming with the giving of four names in just two verses – Amalek, Rephidim, Moses, and Joshua.
It should be remembered from the passage of the parting of the Red Sea that Josephus says that the weapons of the Egyptians washed up on the shore for Israel to collect. Thus, they would have been prepared for the battle with the appropriate weapons of war.
Numbers 13:16 tells us that Joshua’s name at this time is actually Hoshea. In that verse, which is about a year later, it says that Moses changed his name from Hoshea to Joshua. But the name Joshua is used retroactively now because he is given in type to picture Christ Jesus. As Adam Clarke notes about him now –
“Both in the Septuagint and Greek Testament he is called Jesus: the name signifies Savior; and he is allowed to have been a very expressive type of our blessed Lord. He fought with and conquered the enemies of his people, brought them into the promised land, and divided it to them by lot. The parallel between him and the Savior of the world is too evident to require pointing out.” Adam Clarke
We also know that Joshua is about 39 years at this time old because of what he says to the people in Joshua 14 –
“I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart.” Joshua 14:10
That was about a year after this account in Exodus 17 and so he is about 39 or turning 40 at this time.
9 (con’t) Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in my hand.”
It is an interesting set of words for us to contemplate. “Tomorrow” is certainly chosen for the people to be rested in preparation for battle. At the place of rests, Rephidim, the people will be rested. On the next day, Moses says that he will stand on the top of the hill with the rod in his hand.
There is a definite article in front of “hill” and so a particular hill is meant, though not named. There he will stand as if he is a banner for the people to see. And in his hand will be the rod. However, the Hebrew does not say “the rod of God.”
It is an unfortunate translation. It says u’matteh ha’elohim b’yadi, “and (with the) rod of the God in my hand.” There is an article in front of God. This is the first time it has been called “the rod of the God” since Exodus 4:20, thirty-eight sermons ago, when Moses set out towards Egypt after receiving his commission.
The article is given here to highlight the naming of the altar in verse 15. And so now we have five principles to consider – Amalek, Rephidim, Moses, Joshua, and the rod of the God.
10 So Joshua did as Moses said to him, and fought with Amalek.
Without any note of timidity or reticence, the Bible records that Joshua faithfully executed his order from Moses and engaged Amalek in battle. It has to be remembered that just a short time earlier, he and the Israelites with him were slaves in Egypt.
The implication then is that they had never been in battle before and they had no time to train for battle. And yet, they went out in full confidence that they would be honorable representatives of Israel in fighting the Lord’s battle.
10 (con’t) And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
Now another person is introduced, Hur. He has never been mentioned before, and yet he is named as if he was a well-known figure. According to 1 Chronicles 2, he is the great-great-grandson of Judah. At this time, we know that Moses is 80 and Aaron is 83.
Hur is said to be the grandfather of Bezalel who will be the great artisan in the construction of the tabernacle. And so, it is certain that he is, like Moses and Aaron, an old man. Because they were not the right age to lead in battle, they instead will act as intercessors to the Lord while Joshua fights with the enemy.
Josephus says that Hur is the husband of Miriam and thus he would be the brother-in-law of Moses and Aaron. Later, in Exodus 24:14, Moses will leave him as the joint-ruler of the Israelites when he ascends Mt. Sinai to receive the law. His name comes from the word khur, which means “white.”
11 And so it was, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed; and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
It is a curious verse to consider. Was it because there is a link between the failing strength of Moses and that of Israel? Was it because Israel gained confidence at the sight of the raised staff just as a soldier gains confidence at the raising of a flag? Or was it that the Lord stopped helping the people because Moses allowed the rod of the God, which represented His power, to falter
Each has to be considered because the verse is explicit about what has occurred. There is a direct link between Moses’ body movements and the direction of the battle. Because there is, there must be a reason we are told this. The verb for “held up” is rum. It means to exalt, or to be high, or to lift up.
The verb for “let down” is nuakh. The word means simply “to rest.” Matthew Poole seems to rightly evaluate what is happening here with these words –
“Amalek prevailed; God so dispensing his favour, that the honour of the day and victory might be wholly ascribed to the rod and power of God, not to Israel.” Matthew Poole
12 But Moses’ hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it.
Moses’ strength simply failed him. Anyone who has tried to hold up a two-pound weight for a few minutes will tell you that it starts to get very heavy, and very quickly. It is unnatural to hold one’s hands up for a long time. It is even more so when raising them while holding something.
Compounding that, Moses was standing. In his own strength, he could not endure for very long under these conditions. And so Aaron and Hur placed a stone under him on which he could sit. They had seen the connection between the body movements of Moses and the direction of the battle and they knew they needed to do something.
With Moses now relying on the stone and not on his own strength to stand, he would have more energy than by standing. It should be noted that Aaron and Hur didn’t trade off with Moses. If each of them had taken turns holding the rod, they could have continued on all day, but only Moses held the rod.
It is implicit then that only Moses could hold the rod and come out with the proper results. And so in order to ensure that those results would be favorable, they took a different course of action…
12 (con’t) And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
The responsibility for holding the rod of God belonged to Moses alone, but this didn’t preclude Aaron and Hur from supporting Moses’ arms throughout the day. And so they did. With their assistance, it says that “his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.”
The word for “steady” is emunah. It means “faithfulness.” This is the first time it is used in the Bible. Outside of this time, it is always used in a moral sense. It is such an important word that I want to read you its entire description from the HAW –
“There are at least ten distinct categories in which this noun is used in Scripture. In its first occurrence in Scripture it expresses the sense of steady, firm hands, a very basic idea (Ex 17:12). From this mundane sense, Scripture moves almost entirely to a use of the word in connection with God or those related to God. Basically, the term applies to God Himself (Deut 32:4) to express his total dependability. It is frequently listed amoung the attributes of God. It describes his works and his words. emuna is also used to refer to those whose lives God establishes. He expects to see faithfulness in them. Indeed such faithfulness or a life of faith is characteristic of those justified in God’s sight (Hab 2.4). God’s word of truth establishes man’s way of truth or faithfulness. From this we can also see the concept of a duty entrusted to a believer which becomes his trust or office.” HAW
In the use of this special word, the holding of the rod by Moses and the supporting of Moses’ hands by Aaron and Hur are being used to show us a moral lesson as much as anything else. To this, there can be no doubt.
All translations use the word “steady” here, but because of the use of emunah, we are certainly being told that his hand remained “faithfully steady” throughout the long day of battle. Thus the word here is being used in contrast to the previous word “heavy.” Where his hands were at first weighted down and burdened, they now remain faithful.
13 So Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
Joshua was commissioned to lead the battle as the commander of the Lord’s people. Because of this, the verse gives the credit to Joshua for defeating Amalek. However, from the previous verses, there can be no other conclusion than that the victory belongs to the Lord. When the rod was lifted, Joshua prevailed, when it was rested, Amalek prevailed.
Therefore, though the physical battle was won in a physical sense by Joshua, the physical is tied directly to the power of God. Without His hand upon them, there could be no victory. As it was though, Amalek and his people were defeated.
As a fun squiggle for your brain, it says that they were defeated with the “edge of the sword.” In Hebrew, it says l’pi kharev – “with the mouth of the sword.” The imagery is beautiful. The sword is considered a devouring instrument. Its edge is a mouth which consumes its enemy’s souls.
The enemies of the Lord’s people come to harass and destroy
They come after the weak and the weary without a care
But the Lord will defend them, great weapons He will employ
Don’t have fear, good Christians, for you the Lord is there
He is the Rod lifted high, the power of God
He is the Stone of support as a place of rest
His gospel of peace is nigh, so have your feet shod
The enemy is around, so in your armor be dressed
By His power you can word off all foes
In His strength the devil stands no chance
Though he comes at you with mighty blows
Fix your feet firmly in the battle, a warrior’s stance
II. The Lord is My Banner (verses 14-16)
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book
It cannot go without note that this is the first time in Scripture that the Lord has directed anyone to write something down, and specifically in a book. This verse then is the true germ of what we now call “the Holy Bible.”
It is not the first time that the word “book” has been used. That belongs to Genesis 5:1. But the concept of writing something at the direction of the Lord begins right here. Further, there is an article in front of the word “book.” It is not “a book” but “the book.” Thus versions, such as the King James, which say “a book” are in error.
Specificity is given in order to demonstrate that this book has a precise purpose. In this case it is as a memorial. The book itself is for the memorial. What seems like hair splitting is not. It is precise wording so that we can learn the intent of what is being said.
14 (cont) and recount it in the hearing of Joshua,
These words presuppose the line of succession in Israel. To recount the record in the hearing of Joshua implies that Joshua will someday be Moses’ successor. It would then be incumbent upon Joshua to continue to relay the account to his own successor. This tradition was carried on even as far as Samuel, the last Judge of Israel. In 1 Samuel 15, we read this –
“Samuel also said to Saul, ‘The Lord sent me to anoint you king over His people, over Israel. Now therefore, heed the voice of the words of the Lord. 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “I will punish Amalek for what he did to Israel, how he ambushed him on the way when he came up from Egypt. 3 Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”‘” 1 Samuel 15:1-3
14 (cont) that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”
The word here for “blot” is makhah. So far it has only been used in the account of Noah concerning the blotting out of all life during the flood. It means to abolish. The word for “remembrance” is zeker, which indicates memory. And so the basic intent is that the memory of Amalek would be completely erased.
However, because it is recorded in the Bible, the idea of the mental remembrance of who Amalek is and what he did still lives on. This isn’t the intent of what is being said. Rather, it is speaking of the physical existence of Amalek. By blotting out his existence, there would be no memory of him in the sense of an inheritance.
As a way of making this understandable, the word for “blot” here will next be used in Exodus 32 along with the word “book” again in regards to the blotting out of sinners from the Lord’s book. There will be no inheritance of the good things to come for those blotted out. Thus, blotting out the memory of Amalek is in essence to destroy any future of or for Amalek.
In looking back on why the Lord has determined this, a few reasons can be deduced. 1) They were the first to attack the redeemed of Lord after their deliverance from Egypt. 2) They attacked the Lord’s people without showing any regard or fear of the Lord. 3) They attacked those who were already tired and weary. 4) Being descendents of Jacob’s brother Esau, they are of the same general family and so they showed no fraternity to their own brothers.
However, the sternness of the words is showing us that there is a greater picture that we are to see. The blotting out of Amalek is intended to show us a greater cleansing in the spiritual world which surrounds us.
15 And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner;
In commemoration of the deliverance of Israel through the victory of the battle, Moses builds an altar. Although many scholars add in that Moses certainly sacrificed on the altar, there is no record of this. At other times, actions are taken in connection with the building of an altar, but in this account none is. And so there is no reason to add in that he made a sacrifice.
Instead, he merely names the altar, Yehovah-nissi. The name explains the passage. It means, “The Lord is My Banner.” The altar is being used as a metonym. Just as Washington stands for the US Government, and just as Hollywood stands for the movie industry, the name Yehovah-nissi is intended to stand for the rallying of the people to the Lord.
The word nissi means an ensign or a standard. It is something which is lifted up to which one’s attention is to be directed. Thus, the altar has been placed to commemorate the rod of the God which was elevated in the hands of Moses. This then explains why the definite article was used – u’matteh ha’elohim b’yadi, “and (with the) rod of the God in my hand.”
*16 for he said, “Because the Lord has sworn: the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”
ki yad al kes Yah milkhama Yehovah ba’amalek mid-dor dor
There are several possible translations for this verse. The word kes which is translated as “sworn” in the NKJV is only used this once in the Bible. Because of that, various ideas have been put forth. Rather than “sworn” it is probably better translated as “throne.”
The reason why is that the word “throne” is kisse. In the Hebrew, the name Yehovah is shortened to Yah right after this word and so it is probably a poetic contraction of both words – throne and Yehovah. Therefore, this verse is also translated this way –
“‘Because,’ he said, ‘a fist has been raised in defiance against the throne of the LORD, the LORD will wage war against Amalek from generation to generation.'” ISV
In other words, in attacking Israel, Amalek has attacked the throne of the Lord. In response, the Lord will be at war against Amalek from generation to generation. Based on the pictures this account is making, this makes much more sense.
And so, in evaluating these verses, we must consider what came before them. The first 7 verses of the chapter were about the water coming from the rock. At the end of that story, right in the sight of the elders, Moses brought water from the rock by striking it with the rod.
The last verse then said, “So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?'”
Immediately after that, came the connecting words v’yabo amaleq, or “and came Amalek.” The two stories are being tied together. And so that we know this is certain, the naming of the altar Yehovah-nissi is actually tied to the naming of the place Massah, and both occurred at Rephidim. The two stories are not separate; they are connected.
Massah is derived from nasah, “to test.” The people tested the Lord, nasah, and asked whether He was among them or not. And the Lord was shown to be their Banner – nissi; that He was in fact among them. nasah and nissi are etymologically connected and they in turn connect the stories. So what are these verses telling us?
The book is written and sealed with the final word, “Amen.”
God has a plan which will surely come about
Be sure to refer to it time and time again
And you will be strengthened for the battle no doubt
The Lord is my Banner, exalted is He!
He stands upon the high mountain watching over us
And He is the Victor over even the greatest enemy
He is the One who prevailed even over death; our Lord Jesus
Surely from generation to generation our foes are defeated
Because of the Lamb who to Calvary’s tree was nailed
So marvelous is the story it needs to again be repeated
Until the end of time, our Lord, our Christ has prevailed!
III. A Wonderful Picture
The picture that we are to see is, once again, that of Christ and His people. It is a war against the unregenerate, or “natural” man and those who are regenerated by Christ, or the “spiritual” man. The two are rivals and are at war with one another.
In the previous passage, the people questioned whether the Lord was among them or not. This passage is given to show them that He is. It is a sign then to the people – both the unbelievers to see and know, and to the believers for the strengthening of their faith.
Amalek, or the unregenerate man comes against Israel, but who do they attack? The weak and tired. As always, those who are not grounded in their faith are the easiest prey. They are confused about the nature of God, they are confused about proper doctrine, and they are confused even about their relationship with God.
Amalek comes to destroy them. His very name implies severing off the head from the body. They are those who are disconnected from the body and strive to disconnect others from it as well. There they are at Rephidim, or the pace of rest and support, and yet they are trying to destroy the people of the Lord.
It is the constant battle which Paul writes about in his letters. There is Christ who has saved us and there is the enemy who wants to draw us away from Him. Think of the name Amalek – the people who severe the head from the body and listen to Paul’s words –
“Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.” Colossians 2:18, 19
Amalek represents false teachers, heretics, and other unregenerate people who are constantly attacking the weakest of the flock. He is the natural man that Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 2 –
“These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” 1 Corinthians 2:13, 14
In order to counter this, Moses sends Joshua to engage Amalek in battle. Joshua is a type of Christ, the Captain of our Salvation and the Commander of the army. He is the one who leads His people into the spiritual battle in which we are engaged.
But the battle isn’t fought in the camp. Rather, Moses told Joshua to “go out” to fight against Amalek. We don’t get saved and then enclose ourselves behind walls with only believers. We are to GO OUT and engage the enemy where he is. We are to take the fight to the camp of the devil where, as Jesus says, “the gates of Hades shall not prevail.”
Gates are used for defense, not for offense. Joshua went out to engage in battle and to overcome the foe. We are those who fight under the Lord and we are to fight where the devil is. Paul writes to us concerning the spiritual battle in which we are engaged in –
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; 18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints— 19 and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.” Ephesians 6:10-20
The battle we face is no less real than the one that Joshua faced. However, it is a spiritual battle against the wiles of the devil as he constantly attacks from the rear, harming the weakest and destroying their faith. In the battle, Moses stands on the top of the hill with the rod of God in his hand. It is a picture again of Christ, the power of God – on top of the hill with Moses and Aaron and Hur. All of these principles are here to picture the work of Christ.
Moses, which means “He who draws out,” pictures Christ the Prophet of God: Aaron, whose name means “Very high” pictures Christ our High Priest; and Hur, whose name is derived from “white,” and who descends from Judah pictures Christ the King.
The rod of God, like in the previous passage, is the instrumental cause by which the battle will be won. In Christian theology, the instrumental cause of salvation is “faith alone in order to be justified.” It is an entire dependence upon the work of Christ and nothing else.
Moses’ hand is the efficient cause. It is that which causes a motion to start or stop. Hence, only Moses could hold the rod, not Aaron or Hur. The symbolism is that the hand of Moses belongs to the prophet, the one who receives God’s word and relays it to His people. In other words, it is a picture of the recording of the Bible.
Christ’s power is revealed in His Bible which came through the hand of His prophets. However, Aaron and Hur are needed to strengthen Moses. A word without content is not a word. The word tells of not only the prophets, but also of the work of the Priest and King. Their ministries support and uphold the word of the Prophet.
It is to the Bible that we look to see Christ and which we rely on for understanding our spiritual battle. Without that, the enemy gets the upper hand, just as Amalek, or the natural man, got the upper hand on Israel when the rod was rested. In essence, it is a picture which cries out, “DOCTRINE MATTERS!” We cannot engage in the battle without having proper doctrine.
And the stone placed under Moses, what does that represent? It is another confirmation of the importance of DOCTRINE in defeating the foes. Paul, citing Isaiah 28:16 says this in Romans 9 –
“What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:
‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense,
And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.'” Romans 9:32, 33
The stone is the support to keep from being defeated. It is right doctrine which says that faith in Christ is our righteousness, it is that faith in Christ is our justification, and it is that faith in Christ will win the battle.
With the support in place, the words of the Bible which tell of the Prophet, Priest, and King and what He did are sufficient to win the battle. And according to the passage, Moses’ hands were steady until the going down of the sun. If you remember, there was that special word translated as “steady” – emunah.
His hands remained “faithfully steady” throughout the long day of the battle, even to the end of the day. It is a picture of moral endurance. God establishes our lives in Christ and with the Bible, His faithfully steady word, which tells us of Jesus, we have a duty entrusted to us, to live by faith in that word.
The very verse from the Old Testament which Paul cites concerning justification by faith is from Habakkuk 2 and it uses the same word emunah –
“Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk 2:4
Paul quotes it along with these words in Romans 1 –
“For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.'” Romans 1:17
With the rod held high, with Moses’ hands in the air, and with Aaron and Hur supporting them, it then says, “So Joshua defeated Amalek with the edge of the sword.” Jesus defeats the enemies with the sword of His mouth, which is the word of God.
The picture is so absolutely marvelous that it’s actually hard to believe! Every word has been used to show little pieces of the work of Christ in defeating the enemy. And to show us that it is, in fact, the Bible that is being depicted here, we read the next words in the account – “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book.”
All subsequent generations were to have this account, the very germ of the Bible itself, to understand how to defeat the foes of the people of the Lord, how to protect the weak, and how to rely on Yehovah-nissi, the Lord is my Banner.
The promise is made – the Lord will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek. Jesus will utterly blot out the memory of the wicked and those who harm His people. The question in the last passage asked, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
The answer in this passage is, “The-Lord-Is-My-Banner.” He is with me and He is the One to whom I will look. He is the Ensign on the hill. He is the Rod in the hand. He is the Captain of the army, and the Destroyer of our foes. He is the Stone of help and support, and the Foundation on which our hope is based. He is our Prophet, our Priest, and our King. He is Jesus!
And with Him as our Head, we await our final deliverance from this war with Amalek which still goes on today. Christ is still warring with those who would wring off the Head from the body until the day when all things are finished. Until then, if you have any fear at all, just listen again to this final verse of the chapter and your fears will melt away –
Because his hand is against the throne of Yah, Yehovah (will wage) war against Amalek from generation to generation. (Charlie’s rendering of this verse)
In essence, the Lord is fighting for us because the enemy has attacked us, His very throne. To Him, we are at His throne. And to make sure that we can make that claim, that we are in fact at the throne of the Lord, we can go to Revelation 3 as a confirmation –
“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” Revelation 3:21
When we call on Jesus, we overcome by His blood. And when that happens, we are granted the right to sit with Christ on His very throne. Paul tells this truth in Ephesians 2 –
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-7
Through the work of the Lord, we are already seated in the heavenly places in Christ. The deal is done and we have overcome! That is assuming, however, that you have actually called out to Christ. If you haven’t, you are excluded from this promise. But by a simple act of faith, you too can be joined to Christ and seated at the very throne of God. Let me tell you how…
Closing Verse: “And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse,
Who shall stand as a banner to the people;
For the Gentiles shall seek Him,
And His resting place shall be glorious.” Isaiah 11:10
Next Week: Exodus 18:1-12 (Jethro, the Priest of Midian) (50th Exodus Sermon)
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean lies ahead of You, He can part the waters and lead you through it on dry ground. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.
Yehovah Nissi – The Lord is My Banner
Now Amalek came and fought in Rephidim with Israel
A war between good and evil as the Bible does tell
And Moses said to Joshua, as a sort of command
“Choose us some men and go out, with Amalek fight
Tomorrow on the top of the hill I will stand
With the rod of God in my hand in plain sight
So Joshua did as Moses said to him
And fought with Amalek, their enemy to kill
And Moses, Aaron, and Hur
Went up to the top of the hill
And so it was, when Moses held up his hand
That Israel prevailed
And when he let down his hand, we understand
Amalek prevailed, while Israel was assailed
But Moses’ hands became heavy
So they took and put under him a stone
And he sat on it
But he was not there all alone
And Aaron and Hur supported his hands
One on one side, and the other on the other one
And his hands were steady
Until the going down of the sun
So Joshua defeated Amalek as we know
And his people with the edge of the sword
The battle was an impressive show
Won by Joshua for the people of the Lord
Then the Lord said to Moses
“Write this for a memorial in the book
And recount it in the hearing of Joshua
For all future generations when they take a look
That I will utterly blot out the remembrance
Of Amalek from under heaven, so shall it be
And Moses built an altar and called its name
The-Lord-Is-My-Banner; Yes Yehovah Nissi is He!
For he said, “Because the Lord has sworn
The Lord will have war with Amalek always
From generation to generation, each that is born
Will fight against Amalek until the end of days
Surely the Lord is our Banner, so to Him let us look
Let us keep our eyes steadily fixed on Jesus
And let us discern right doctrine by attending to His book
It is the place where today He communicates with us
Let us not trust in the cunning wiles of man
Nor let us trust in any false word
Instead let us do our utmost, the best that we can
To constantly trust Jesus alone, He our saving Lord
Thank You, O God, for Jesus, the Captain of our salvation
And thank You, O God, for Your superior word
From it we find in our souls a joyous elation
Because in it we find Jesus, our glorious Lord!
Hallelujah and Amen…