I left you yesterday with the Israelites in the wilderness. There were twelve tribes of Israel and each of them had a family banner that they took with them when they travelled. They would break camp when the cloud of the Lord lifted off of the tabernacle, they would follow the cloud and they would set up camp. Setting up the tabernacle and the tribes would set up their camps outside the tabernacle, surrounding it on all sides. The people of Israel went through many moods and temperaments while they were in the wilderness. They experienced many blessings and saw many miracles of God, the parting of the Red Sea for one. They ate manna, bread from heaven every morning and ate quail that came to them in the evening.They saw Moses hit a rock and water gushed out for them. But at times even while witnessing all that God was doing for them, they grumbled and complained. I know that God must have become weary with them so many times. Just as I know that He must become weary with me so many times when I forget His faithfulness and become anxiety filled and worrisome over what lies ahead of me.
This brings us to our story of the day and we will see where God got His name Jehovah-Nissi.
“Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim.” Exodus 17:8
To understand this battle we must understand the characters. First of all Amalek is a descendant of Esau. Remember him? Jacob’s brother. Even though Jacob and his brother had reconciled there were obviously people in the family who didn’t forgive quite so easily. The Amalekites, were a tribe that came from Esau’s family, therefore they were basically cousins of the Israelites. They came to fight with the Israelites and try to defeat them. One point to make here is the way the wrongs done to Esau by Jacob were never forgotten by the family. Even though Esau had long forgiven and they had reconciled there were still harsh feelings among these families. Another point here is that ever since the Israelites had left Egypt, God had led them and had blessed them and provided for them. This is the first time they are having to go into battle. I wonder if God had this happen partially because of all of the grumbling and complaining. Up to now, they had their food, their water, their clothing had not worn out, and they were following wherever a cloud led them to go. I wonder sometime if I don’t work myself into some of the battles that end up before me by not counting my blessings when they are in front of me. I wonder if God does not give us over sometime to our grumbling so that we will appreciate His blessings all the more. This is just what I am getting and I am wondering.
So Amalek came to fight the Israelites and Moses lays out the battle plan.
“So Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’” Exodus 17:9
Joshua was to go fight and Moses was to stand on top of a hill and pray. So that is exactly what they did. Joshua and his men went into battle with Amalek while Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill overlooking the battlefield. Moses stood there with his staff over his head. This was to remind them how God had fought for them in the past. As the Israelites would look on top of that hill, they would see their leader holding the staff up high above his head. Somehow this gave them courage and what they needed for the fight. But have you ever tried to hold something over your head for a long period of time? It’s hard to do so Moses would begin to grow weary and he would start to drop his hands. And when he dropped his hands Amalek would begin winning. And when he raised his hands Israel would win. As long as they kept God in the battle with them, they were winning. This next part of this story may be my very favorite part.
“But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.” Exodus 17:12-13
I love how Moses was holding up the staff for the Israelites to prevail but I also love how the supporting characters in this story held up Moses hands so that he could hold up the staff so that Israel could prevail. I will never forget the first time I really heard this story. At that time my family was going through a trying time of some job situations and confusion of whether we should move or stay in our area. I was a young mama and I was just learning how to be a prayer warrior for my family. My husband was trying to figure out what his next step was in his career path and what the best way to provide for our family was. I felt helpless in some ways but I also knew that what I was being called to do was to pray for my husband as he made these decisions. Some days were hard and confusing and I would grow weary with all that we were facing. But I had some really close people to me at the time who would hold me up and were also supporting me with their prayers. Then I heard this story and all the pieces fit together that that is the way it is meant to be.
You see, we will all find ourselves in a battle at times. And we all need someone standing on the hill holding us up in prayer and we also need the prayer support of close friends holding our arms up as we pray. I have been the one in the battle and I have been the one on the hill praying the prayers and I have been the one holding the arms of precious friends as they pray for their own battles. It’s what binds us together.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.’ And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD is My Banner” Exodus 17:14-15
The KJV says it this way:
“And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi” Exodus 17:15
The next thing Moses did was record what the Lord had done for them. When we win the battles that we have prayed for, this is when He becomes our Jehovah-nissi! Do you journal? Do you record what the Lord has done for you? The Lord has been my banner over and over again. He has fought my battles and He has sent me into battle to fight all the while He was with me. But every victory has come because of Him, He is my Banner!