Introduction: Israel’s life in the wilderness, in the aftermath of liberation and in pursuit of Yahweh’s promise of the land.
Israel’s way to the land of promise was not without trouble and conflict.
Application: When we come into relationship with God, deliverances of all sorts come included:
- Old Nature – it is an ongoing process but a deliverance continuum.
- Death, Hell and the Grave –
- Often problems, dilemmas and circumstance.
Application: My fear and coming face to face with my assailants.
I believe without a shadow of a doubt that Jehovah Nissi intervened and took care of my past debt.
In Chapter 17 of Exodus we see 2 narratives of significance back to back.
- Water from the Rock
The very first thing I want to point out is what is stated in verse 1.
Israel is proceeding, ‘as the Lord commanded.’
Application: We need to keep moving, progressive, gaining ground, moving toward God’s promises despite obstacles and difficulties.
What I’m about to point out is going to be very important for the rest of this morning’s thoughts.
In verse 2, the people file a complaint against Moses for his ineffectiveness and incompetence.
Question: How does one judge competence and ineffectiveness? In church especially (since this is somewhat of an equivalence)!
- By comparison to others?
- Ministry departments?
I still believe that faithfulness is what God calls for, requires and blesses!
Question? How do we measure blessings?
- Nickels & Noses?
Might it not rather be found in obedience, perseverance and genuine love and care for others?
Moses reply is
- ‘Why blame me?’
- Why are you testing God?
‘Test’ = tempt, try, prove
In this particular case what is happening is that the people by quarreling with Moses are actually quarreling with God because God has set Moses as the leader and authority.
But…Moses’ answer doesn’t satisfy or lift the burden so the people continue.
‘Why did you bring us out here to die?’’
God tells Moses, ‘WALK ON AHEAD OF THE PEOPLE.’
‘STRIKE THE ROCK’
And he called the place Massah and Meribah
Massah = testing
Meribah = quarreling
The very common verb ריב (rib) means to strive or contend and ranges from a mere bickering to full scale combat. Noun ריב (rib) means strife, dispute or plea. Noun יריב (yarib) denotes an opponent or adversary. Noun מריבה (meriba) refers to a place or agent of strife or contention.
This first section ends with the question, again, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’
Application: We need to settle this question once and for all!
- When God provides
- When God heals
- When God delivers
- When God answers
- When we sense God
In Exodus 20 we find the narrative where Moses was told to ‘speak’ to the rock but instead he ‘struck it with the rod.’
Question: Was it a matter of faith that Moses struck (exerted force) as opposed to simply speaking in faith (with none of his own action/force to bring forth the miracle?
Transition: On to episode two.
2. Amalek is Defeated
So, as God’s people, led by Moses, ‘moves as God has commanded,’ there is a new trial/difficulty. The people are faced with a battle from without.
FIRST A BATTLE FROM WITHIN, NOW A BATTLE FROM WITHOUT.
- a Confrontation.
- a Battle
- a Victory
NOTE: Now watch this…the first person mentioned is Joshua. Joshua is introduced as the warrior who recruits the army who subsequently will emerge as the pivotal leader after Moses (This is the first mention of Joshua in the Bible).
The name Joshua in Hebrew means ‘save’ ‘to save.’
Application: Some (maybe most) were quarrelling with Moses and God but others decided to fight for God and for his leader Moses.
Question: How is the battle won?
Moses himself doesn’t actually go into battle but is still the key figure in assuring Israel’s victory.
What is decisive for the outcome is (1) the staff held in Moses’ hand (which speaks of the power of Yahweh, (2) Joshua’s leadership.
After all the military strategy, material, and technology of the day is assembled, it is Moses’ hands being kept up that secured the victory.
Transition: So Amalek is defeated; God even says he’ll wipe out their presence, person and memory forever; and Moses builds an altar and calls it ‘Jehovah is my Banner.’ Jehovah Nissi.
Question: What does it mean for God to be our banner today? Consider how banners are used, and it will begin to reveal some of what this title means.
- They hang from the rafters of arenas honoring champions.
- They are raised to honor soldiers returning from war.
- They adorn public places to celebrate occasions or people who deserve honor.
Banners are to remember and commemorate.
- Towns all over America raise banners on certain holidays every year to commemorate something dear to them – a patron, a product, a hero, a tradition, a holy day.
Banners are labels and signets. They announce names and images which people can recognize from a great distance. They show the location and identity of a business or event so people can navigate to it.
Question: What have we learned about Jehovah Nissi?
- There is no one like our God: He is unmatched strength wise.
- It is easy and common to quarrel with God and others when things don’t seem right.
- He miraculously provides like no one else can!
- It is He who should be recognized and honored for the victories in our lives.
Conclusion: God goes before us (17:1); God is in the midst of us to provide, bless and sustain (17:6); God; God’s authority will always prevail (17:12-13); God is Jehovah Nissi!
He is….our banner, our strength, our victory!