by Pastor Ron Thomas
RODGERS BAPTIST CHURCH
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Text: Exodus 17:8-16. "Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
9 And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
14 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi:
16 For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation."
Introduction: Bubba had problems, so he decided to visit a psychiatrist. He told the doctor, "I've got problems. Every time I go to bed I think there's somebody under it. I get scared. I've tried everything. I take a flashlight to bed with me and when I panic, I shine the light under the bed and look. Nobody's there! When I go back to bed and close my eyes, it starts all over again! I think I'm going crazy." Carefully listening to this potential (payment) patient, the psychiatrist responded, "Just put yourself in my hands for one year. Come talk to me three times a week, and we should be able to get rid of those fears." "How much do you charge?" asked Bubba. "Eighty dollars per visit," replied the doctor. Bubba thought a while and said, "I'll sleep on it." Six months later the psychiatrist saw Bubba in town and asked him, "Why didn't you ever come to see me about those fears you were having?" "Well eighty bucks a visit three times a week for a year is an awful lot of money! So, I shared the problem with my barber, and he cured me for $10. I was so happy to have saved all that money, that I went and bought me a new pickup!" Perplexed, the psychiatrist responded, "Is that so! And how, may I ask, did a barber cure you?" Bubba smiled and said, "He told me to cut the legs off of the bed. Ain't nobody there anymore!"
Someone has observed that all we need for life's problems is two things, WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn't move but should, use the WD-40. If it should not move and does, use the duct tape.
t would be great if all of life's problems were that simple to solve. Since most of life's problems aren't that simple, and won't go away over night, perhaps we should change the way we view them. Positive thinker Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, once said, "Problems are a sign of life, the more problems you have, the more alive you are." Are you alive today?
As we come to our text, we discover that Moses and Israel are very much alive! They are facing a monumental problem, and guess what? WD-40 and duct tape were yet to be invented! Moses and the fledgling nation of Israel have just come through a water crisis in the wilderness of Sinai, and find themselves at a place called "Rephidim." The name "Rephidim" means rest. Things were going good, but then we read those first three words of our text, "Then came Amalek..." We can all identify with that phrase. Verse 8 continues, "...and fought with Israel." Just when life settles down; just when we get in a good grove and we are resting, here comes Amalek, and with Amalek, there is contention, there is a struggle and strife, there is a problem.
Who were the Amalekites? The Amalekites were the descendants of Amalek, who was a grandson of Esau, the brother of Jacob. If you remember, Esau and Jacob were born to Isaac and Rebekah. There was enmity or strife between these two brothers over the birthright and blessing of the first born. Jacob, together with his mother, schemed to deceive Isaac, and steal the blessing. This began a strife between the descendants of Esau and the descendants of Jacob or Israel, that continued from generation to generation. Verse 16 reads, "For he (Moses) said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation." Even though the Amalekites were direct descendants of Jacob and thereby near kinsman to the Israelites, they were a constant nemesis to them. It might be better to say that because the Amalekites were direct descendants of Jacob and thereby near kinsman to the Israelites, they were a constant nemesis to them!
We have the same near kinsman in our lives! The famous Doxology written by Thomas Ken says, "Praise God from whom all blessings flow." God is our continual fount of blessing. It is equally true that our fleshly, sinful nature is our continual fount of problems! We could sing, "Curse the flesh from whom our problems flow." Like Amalek, our fleshly, carnal nature is our near kinsman, ever with us, never giving us rest, a constant nemesis to ourselves and others. We can go through life cursing our lot and or blaming others, but it goes nowhere! Life is not fair and there are evil people and powers in this world who are constantly badgering us, but at the end of the day, life is what we make it. On one occasion, a negative person who resented Dr. Peal's positive approach to life with it's problems, found him on the street and complained, "...but don't you know the world is full of problems?" Dr. Peale responded, "Why of course I know the world is full of problems. Anyone in my business knows that, ...but thanks be to God it is also full of the overcoming of problems."
This message is about overcoming problems. It centers upon one of the many names of God. Here in this passage, Moses introduces us to the name Jehovah Nissi, the Lord our banner of victory! Verse15 reads, "And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi." The word "nissi" is translated banner. It speaks of a symbol or standard of victory! We are overcomers though the Lord Jesus Christ and in Him, we can be overcomers in life!
In our text passage, the Amalekites have confronted Moses and the children of Israel as they began their journey in the wilderness. At this point in time, Israel as a fledgling nation, is very vulnerable. The Israelites were adapting to wilderness life, experiencing withdrawals from Egyptian life, and were ill equipped for battle. We can safely assume that the Amalekites did not take them very seriously. Moses instructs his commander and leader in training Joshua, to select men and engage the enemy. While Joshua is leading his men in battle against the armies of the Amalekites, Moses removes himself to the top of a hill nearby, giving himself a view of the battlefield.
Moses takes his staff with him to the hilltop. As Moses raises his arms high with his rod or staff in his hands, Joshua and his men prevail against the Amalekites. When Moses' arms grew weary, becoming tired and heavy, he lowered them and the Amalekites prevailed against Joshua and his troops. Observing the weariness of Moses, Aaron and Hur came to the aid and support of their leader. The first thing they did, was roll a nearby stone under Moses, so that he could sit down. We must remember that Moses was 80 years old when he first stood before Pharaoh and demanded that he let his people go. Then together, they supported Moses' arms, holding them high and steady until the setting of the sun. Because of this, Joshua was able to prevail against and overwhelm the Amalekites with the edge of the sword. At the end of the day, everyone knew that the victory was secured because Moses was able to hold his rod or staff high overhead!
What appeared as a simple shepherd's staff, had become a symbol of God's presence and power. It all began when God called Moses from the midst of the burning bush to deliver his people. Moses made excuses as to why he could not go. God then asked Moses what he had in his hand. Moses responded, "Its just a rod, a shepherd's staff." God instructed Moses to throw it on the ground. When he did, the rod became a serpent, perhaps a venomous cobra! God then commanded Moses to pick it up by the tail. As he did, it became a rod again, but it ceased to be the rod of Moses. At that point, the rod of Moses, became the rod of God! Exodus 4:20 says, "And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass, and he returned to the land of Egypt: and Moses took the rod of God in his hand." Moses' rod was seriously promoted. It went from being used to herd a bunch of sheep in the back side of the desert, to calling down plagues on Pharaoh. The rod of Moses was transformed from a shepherd's humble staff, to a ruling, reigning scepter in the hand of the Almighty! It was this rod, that Moses held high in the day of battle against the Amalekites. This is the rod that is now used to symbolize the name Jehovah Nissi, the Lord is my Banner.
Today we think of a banner as a flag. Actually the word, banner in the Hebrew means to glisten. It can be translated as pole, ensign, and standard. Often in the Old Testament, a banner was a bare staff with a metal ornament on the end of it, and it would glisten in the sun.
We get a clear example of this in Numbers 21. The Lord sent a plague of fiery snakes, among the children of Israel, because of their attitude and rebellion toward Moses. A bite from one of those snakes, and they were dead! Moses entreated the Lord for his people and God allowed him to make a banner, a pole with a brazen serpent on the end of it to be lifted up among the people. Those who were bitten and looked to the banner, would live!
This banner in the hand of Moses was a visible image of the presence and power of God, who would provide the victory over the Amalalekites. The victory over Amalek belonged to God. By themselves, the Israelites were sure to be defeated, if not destroyed. It was under the banner of the Lord that victory was secured!
Are there Amalekites in your life today? With what are you doing battle? The Amalekites represent the forces of evil as they oppose the work of God and the people of God. As the children of God, we are in constant conflict with Satan, his godless, irreverent, world system, and our unredeemed fleshly nature and desires. Your battle is chiefly against sin and Satan. We know that Satan has lost his war against God. He is a defeated foe, however he is determined to continue his fight! Satan is out to win as many battles as he can in our lives to defeat us, discourage us, and drag us down with him! His tactics are much like Amalek. Deuteronomy 25:17-18 reads, "Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; 18 How he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God." Amalek attacked Moses and the children of Israel unexpectedly, unfairly, and continually. He attacks areas of weakness in our lives. He attacks us when we are living life careless and carefree. He attacks us without warning in the good times and when we are down! Satan will attack you when you are weak and vulnerable. It could be when you are physically or spiritually weak. The problems in our lives are evidence of this warfare! Most of the problems in our lives are the result of our own desires and lust; our own choices and disobedience.
As we consider the story before us and the name of God, Jehovah Nissi, we can gain valuable insight into how to overcome our problems, rather than be overcome by them! The secret is living under God's banner of victory! Victory is not an option for the child of God. We have been saved and equipped to experience victory in our lives! How? The Battle Plan For Victory
Submit yourself to the Lord. We see this in Moses's staff. Before the rod of Moses could become the rod of God, it had to fall from his hands! As Moses released that staff and let it fall to the ground, he was surrendering all rights to his life, and submitting himself to the direction God had for his life! Life ceased to be about him!
It is the same with us. The way to victory for the child of God begins with submission to God and His Word. The banner on the hill represented God's authority. We must surrender ourselves, our plans, our cares and our problems to God! James 4:6-7 says, "But He (God) giveth more grace. Wherefore He saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God." Verse 10 says, "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up." We must remember that the battle is the Lord's!
Lift your arms and hands toward Heaven in prayer! We see this as Moses lifted his hands and arms toward Heaven! Make no mistake about it. Moses was assuming the posture of prayer! David in Psalm 28:2 says, "Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto Thee, when I lift up my hands toward Thy holy oracle (your most Holy Place)." Moses was interceding on behalf of his people! As Moses' arms and hands were lifted in prayer, Joshua and his men prevailed! Prevailing power comes through prevailing prayer!
In Mark 9, the apostles of Jesus attempted to cast a demon out of a young boy, but were defeated. When they asked Jesus the reason for their failure to do, so He responded in verse 29, "This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." Prayer is more important than you realize! We are powerless as Christians today, because we are prayer-less. We tell ourselves that we do not have time to pray, therefore we go from day to day without power over sin and are overcome by our problems! James 4:8a says, "Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you."
Be alive! Get involved and fight! Engage the enemy in the power and strength of the Lord. We see this as Joshua was fighting the Amalekites on the battlefield. As Moses proceeded to climb the hill, Joshua was commanded to select some men to fight, and engage the Amalekites! Joshua and his men were sent out to fight an enemy that was too strong for them, yet they did not hesitate because they knew that they were not alone!
We are not to be passive as Christians living in this world. We have been commanded to engage an enemy that is mightier than us and invisible to the human eye! Ephesians 6:10 reads, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." Our enemy may be invisible, but he is not invincible! While our weapons are not carnal or of our own making and abilities, we do have weapons which are spiritual; they are mighty and effective through the Lord! The Word of God is a powerful weapon against Satan and the flesh. It is the same with prayer. We are called to engage, resist the enemy in the power and strength of the Lord! James 4:7 says, "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." We must resist the devil. We must stand up to him when he comes to attack us! Resist the temptation to give in or give up.
The battle against sin, always begins in our thought life. Paul said that we serve the law of God with our minds. We are transformed by the "renewing" of our minds! We think before we act! We are commanded to take charge of our thought life. We are to bring every thought into captivity by the power of the Holy Spirit!
Remember your banner! Psalm 60:4-5 says, "Thou hast given a banner to them that 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 hear me." You can be sure that the rod of God became a rallying point that day. As Joshua and his men looked to the hill and saw the banner held high, it gave them strength and encouragement! The banner reminded them of the great victories of the past and assured them of victory in the present!
As saved, born again children of God, our banner is the cross of Jesus Christ! Our victory over the flesh, the world and Satan is through the cross of Jesus Christ. John 3:14-15 reads, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." Salvation comes by the power of Jesus Christ, and His redemptive work on the cross! It is faith in the cross that bridges the gap between our sin and a Holy God!
After we are saved, the cross becomes the reference point for our lives. When we are discouraged, we consider the cross and are encouraged. When we are suffering, especially for doing good, we think of the cross and are strengthened. When are slow to show mercy or slow to forgive, we consider the cross! Jesus has transformed the cross from a symbol of defeat, shame and death, into a symbol of life and victory!
There's a wonderful little chorus written some time ago that spoke of Jehovah Nissi. It says, "Love is a flag flown high from the castle of my heart, for the King is in residence there. So let it fly in the sky, let the whole world know, that the King is in residence there." For the word "love," we could use the word joy or peace or victory! "Victory is a flag flown high from the castle of my heart, for the King is in residence there. So let it fly in the sky, let the whole world know, that the King is in residence there." What is the banner flying from the castle of your heart? Is it the banner of our victory in Jesus Christ? I John 5:4-5 says, "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?"
It is not enough to simply believe in the death of Christ. It is not enough to surrender to Christ. We must believe that Christ is a risen, all-powerful Savior, who can and will bring victory over sin into our lives through His indwelling Spirit. Victory is the only satisfactory evidence that this world is looking for in the lives of believers! It's good to read your Bible, say your prayers, and attend church, but how goes the battle? Are you overcoming? Are you experiencing victory? Or are you fearful and defeated? Are you overcoming the passions, tempers and lusts of your own heart? Are you resisting the devil and making him flee from you? You can have victory today! It begins with that first step toward Jesus!