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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jehovah Nissi, My Banner and Refuge

For the next few days, we are going to look at “Jehovah” in conjunction with some other names of God. Jehovah comes from “havah”, the Hebrew name which means “to exist” or “to be”. Yesterday, we saw God as the great “I AM” who existed before all else, and who has sovereign authority over all the universe. The name “Jehovah” reveals that the great “I AM” of the universe (Yahweh) really wishes “to become known”. He is the all-powerful “Yahweh” who, as “Jehovah”, wishes to have a relationship with the people He has created. He wants to be up close and personal with us!

Jehovah” in conjunction with “Nissi” is only mentioned once in the old Testament, and that is in Exodus 17. “Nissi” is derived from the word “nes”, which means “banner” in Hebrew. In Exodus 17:15, Moses, having just defeated the Amalekites, erected an altar to “Jehovah Nissi”. The word “nes” can be demonstrated by the example of a flag mounted on a pole as a focal point in battle. In old Testament history (and even much later throughout centuries) opponents in war flew their own flag on their front lines. This focal point reminded soldiers of their purpose. When they focused their mind to win, they received encouragement that their efforts would not be in vain. This is what God “Jehovah Nissi” is to us. He is our focal point, our “banner”, on which we can focus our mind and all our thoughts, strength, hope, and belief. Isaiah wrote of God as this “banner”. “You guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You” (Isaiah 26:3, AMP).

In the Septuagint (the Greek version of the old Testament written for Jews two centuries before Christ) the word “nissi” is translated as “refuge”. When I focus all that I am―all that I believe―all that I live―all of my being on His unfailing standard, character, promise, and purpose, then He is my refuge in whatever comes before me. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High (Elyon) shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty (Shaddai) [Whose power no foe can withstand]. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God; on Him I lean and rely, and in Him I [confidently] trust” (Psalm 91:1-2, AMP). He is not only my “banner” whose focus in my life gives strength and purpose; He is my refuge and my fortress in the heat of battle. He is my strength to stand against all evil. When I put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17), no weapon can come against me.

The next verse following Isaiah 26:3 explains the faith that I can have in the Lord, my banner and my refuge, when my mind and whole life is focused on Him. “So trust in the Lord (commit yourself to Him, lean on Him, hope confidently in Him) forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting Rock [the Rock of Ages]” (Isaiah 26:4, AMP). Yes, He is “Jehovah Nissi”, the one in whom I will always trust.

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