Monday, November 14, 2011

What's in a name? - Jehovah Nissi

A name that at first may seem to hold little significance at its first mention. Only found once in the Bible may lead one to believe that it is really not all that important. Once we take a closer look at the name, we begin to see the greatness of this name.

It means "The Lord our Banner". First impression? Maybe, "Oh cool, like go team go!" Ok, maybe a little cheesy, but really what's the significance.

When we look at the one and only passage where this if found, we can gain a context for this reference. So the Israelites are in a battle with the Amalekites and Joshua leads his army into battle. So get a picture of some epic battle, like in Braveheart. So Aaron rallies his men, and Moses, along with Aaron and Hur go to the top of a hill that overlooks the battle field. As long as Moses holds his hands in the air, he sees the Israelites winning the battle, but as soon as they are lowered, the Amalekites begin to gain ground. Let's think about this simple act of lifting our hands. It show's surrender, in this case to God, and it shows hands lifted high to give honor to something greater than ourselves. It's lifting up our burdens and cares to someone far greater than ourselves. But our arms grow weary and sometimes we need brothers and sisters around us to help us along the way.

With the help of Aaron and Hur, Moses held his hands in the air for the whole time of the battle, and seeing God win the battle for the Israelites. So Moses builds an alter in honor of what God did for them, and he called it Jehovah Nissi, The Lord our Banner.

Great story! But what's the significance? A banner is much more than a flag on a stick. It marked the battle ground and was often used to rally troops. It would be easy to get lost and separated from your men during battle, so a banner would be placed to help you find your fellow soldiers. Banners are often used to celebrate and to mark special occasions. A banner is used to create identity, to create a separation from others, but yet to unify one group. Think of the significance of a nations flag. It is honored and respected. The flag of the U.S. is unique and is the symbol of a country. It is something to be treated with reference and with a humbleness. It represents something greater than ourselves.

Yet I believe the greatest representation is not found in those things, but in the image of soldiers planting the flag after a victory. It is customary to plant one's flag in the battleground after a victory. My mind pictures the image at Iwo Jima, where the soldiers mark a long hard fought victory with the American flag. It is a sign of victory! Naming God our Banner states a reference, a devotion, and a commitment to Him. And with Him as our Banner, we know we will have victory. The Lord our Banner, simple, yet so powerful in knowing everything that this means to us. May we rally around the flag, pull together to fight, and stand before our King!  And above all, we can claim victory and plant the flag in every battle ground we find ourselves in!  For we do not fight for victory, but we fight from victory!

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