Moses was tired. No, he was exhausted. He had lost count of the minutes and hours he had been out here, and he wasn’t even fighting. On the other hand, maybe he was. He was fighting, on his knees. Figuratively speaking. Now he was sitting down on a large rock, bless Aaron and Hur, for thinking of it! but he had been standing for a long time. And Aaron. And Hur. And Joshua, and the men he specifically chose to go with him to fight against the Amalekites, though they were neither sitting nor standing. They were probably more tired than he was.
His arms were trembling. Aaron was holding up one arm, and Hur the other. Moses hadn’t put them down for a long time now. He still remembered the last time he had done so. Even though his arms protested, he had hurriedly tried to lift them again. It seemed only when his hands were raised toward heaven with his rod between them, did the Israelites win. Even though he knew that and saw it play out on the battlefield below, without Aaron and Miriam’s husband Hur, aiding him, he wouldn’t have been able to hold them up long. I AM surely favoured his brothers with strength.
Moses glanced at the sun to gauge the time, and if he had been standing, he would jumped. The sun was almost down! He thought it was still early afternoon. Where had the day gone? He looked back at the Israelites down below. The standard of the people of I AM was clearly visible, and he could gauge that it gave the people hope and renewed vigor. Those Amalekites seemed to running away from them, and the Israelites were giving chase. The day belonged to them. No, it belonged to I AM. He was the one that had brought the victory. He was the one that had routed the Amalekites. He was the one that deserved the glory, the praise, the honor, the gratitude.
Moses leaned his head back, Aaron and Hur still by his side holding his hands up, though they struggled with that now. Looking at his staff held between his arms, teased something at the back of his mind, though he couldn’t catch the thought.
Moses whispered a prayer of thanks to I AM, He who had been faithful even when His people hadn’t, and had complained and murmured and grumbled their way from Egypt , and then looked down at the field again. The armies or rather army , filled his vision. His people were returning to camp. Some weary, some wounded and carried on litters, some limping , each one cheerful though. They helped others to stand and picked up fallen weapons along the way. They gathered around the standard bearer, that glorious flag snapping in the wind. With the standard at the front, the people marched back . Raggedly, true, but also triumphant. They kept looking at the banner going before them, and then towards Moses and the people with him. Many waved or cheered when they saw Moses, still with his hands up. They knew they had won only when he held them up, and that the Amalekites won when he put them down. So…. he kept them up. To encourage them, to remind them about their resounding victory, to give them something to cheer about.
Suddenly he gasped, finally realizing what had tickled his mind, and in his haste, he dropped his hands. Aaron groaned, and then stretched , moving joints that hadn’t moved in a long time. Hur sat down on the ground close to the rock that Moses had been sitting on, and then lay down, closing his eyes. “Quickly” Moses said, jumping with enough alacrity to belie his age, “Quickly, we must build Him an altar. Quickly” Aaron looked at him as if he were mad, Hur opened one eye slowly. “What altar do you want to build?” Aaron asked. “An altar to Him, I AM, for HE IS MY BANNER” Moses replied. Aaron turned to look at the returning men, men who were victorious and shouldn’t have been. Hur pulled himself to sitting, and then stood up, standing next to Moses as all three of them looked out. ” Yes ” he said solemnly, “Yes, you’re right, He is my Banner” They stood there for a few minutes, each one contemplating and silently thanking I AM, and then they turned around to start building HIM an altar of undefiled stone.
Moses lifting his rod high for all to see reminded him of a standard, a flag, an ensign, a banner. A supplication to the Holy I AM. A reminder of His faithfulness in times past. A symbol of His intervention in the present. A hope for protection in the future. Jehovah Nissi.
( Based on Exodus 17: 8-15 ,many commentators believe Hur might have been Miriam’s husband )
Exodus 17:15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner.
As always, trying to translate the names of God into English makes me feel inadequate. Jehovah Nissi is The LORD is my Banner. Melek means King ( with a meaning that is King above all kings, King of all or King without equal). These names are not the same, but it seemed appropriate to combine them in this post.
Jehovah Nissi is a military name. A banner, standard or ensign , that is raised high ( maybe on a flagpole ) to draw people close , those who fight as one for a common cause. In olden days, kings ( and dukes and earls and anyone basically who went to war with someone else), would have “house” colours , and an emblem which was their own and unique. This emblem would be stitched or woven onto flags which would fly from castle towers and fort tops, it would be displayed on flags leading soldiers into battle, it would be added to servants’ clothes and soldiers’ uniforms. It would signal to those attacking ( or defending) that these people belonged to the owner of the emblem. It showed that these people identified with, were protected by and served the owner of the emblem. He ( or She) had a responsibility to those who wore his/her colours. An obligation that was sacred, and should have been kept to the death. He/She had to provide for basic needs ( food, clothing, shelter) , had to protect them for invaders and generally give them a good reason to live with them, and serve them.
Human beings, it is proven, chose whether to fulfill their responsibilities or not. Throughout history, there have been instances where men and women undertook their duties seriously and those who abused their position and their power. These positions were never meant to be tyrannical. Unfortunately tyranny became the norm more and more, and so this system of governing was overthrown. While it is true men (and women) cannot be trusted , this isn’t true for God.
God, the One had revealed himself to Moses at the bush as I AM, the all existing God. The One who always had existed, who exists now, who will continue to exist in the future. Now , after miraculously delivering the Israelites from Egypt , after gently leading them through the desert with a pillar of cloud or fire, after providing water and manna, He leads them to Rephidim. Where true to their nature, they grumble against God, they remember fondly their “good life” in Egypt (probably untrue, they were slaves who had been hard-worked, hard enough that they had cried to the LORD for deliverance) and argued with Moses. All this because they wanted water! Even after God had graciously provided water for them in Marah ( He had made the bitter water sweet), He took them to Elim with 12 springs and had provided manna and quail in Sin. All done in such a manner, that they could not but agree that I Am was with them. Now in Rephidim, God tells Moses to take some elders with him, and strike a rock. The waters gush out, and the elders were witnesses.
Right after that Amalek attacks them .( Amalek was a descendant of Esau who had harried the Israelites when they passed through Amalek territory on their way out of Egypt, they had hounded and killed the stragglers, the old and the weak. God had expressly forbidden the Israelites from fighting them). Now God commands Moses to commission Joshua to go fight them. Joshua and his chosen warriors only win when Moses lifts up his hands and the staff to heaven. Moses lifting up his hands, is almost like beseeching God. It is also a visible and real reminder to the Israelites that they belong to God. He has given them His identity. He has taken on the responsibility for them. He will fight for them. He will protect them. He will give them a reason to live and to serve Him. So Moses, filled with the wisdom that comes from God, calls I AM, Jehovah Nissi ( The LORD is my banner). God also commands Moses to write down ( the first time a written record is mentioned in the Bible) the account of the battle, and give it to Joshua, to remind him to fight the Amalekites until they are destroyed. God takes His duties very seriously. No one who attacks His chosen people will get away with it.
The following verses best describe banner in relation to God. If you’re looking for a complete reference in the Bible, look for standard/banner/ensign/pole in your concordance.
Psalm 20:5 May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests.
Isaiah 49:22 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘See, I will beckon to the nations, I will lift up my banner to the peoples; they will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their hips.
Isaiah 11:10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting-place will be glorious.
Melek means King. King above all. King without equal or rival. King of kings. I first saw, really saw this name in Psalm 68. That particular psalm is beautiful to read in the names of God (NOG) Bible version. I added Melek to this post because King fit well with the military term Banner.
This King is coming back soon. He will accept the worship and reverence from everyone left on the earth at that time. He will rule the nations with justice and mercy. He will provide a good life to those who follow Him. There will be no tears or mourning, for there will be no sorrow or sin or trouble. He will protect those in His care. No longer will an infant live a few days or a man not see the end of his life in health. People will be joyful, will live in harmony , there won’t be any wars because He will turn the instruments of warfare into pruning hooks and shears, and there will be plenty for everyone. The tree of life will produce different crops every month, and the leaves will be used for the healing of the nations. So… The King will provide identity , provision and protection. The King will be worshipped and honored and revered. Will you be one who voluntarily and freely chooses to say “Holy, holy is the LORD, to whom belong all honour, all glory, all power and all praise” or will you be forced to say it? Now is the time. You can choose to make Him Lord of your life. If you haven’t yet, I pray that you will.
These verses are from the NOG version.
Psalm 5:2 Pay attention to my cry for help, my Melek and my Elohim, because I pray only to you. Psalm 10:16 Yahweh is Melek forever and ever. The nations have vanished from his land. Psalm 24:7 Lift your heads, you gates. Be lifted, you ancient doors, so that the Melek of glory may come in. Psalm 24:8 Who is this Melek of glory? Yahweh, strong and mighty! Yahweh, heroic in battle! Psalm 24:9 Lift your heads, you gates. Be lifted, you ancient doors, so that the Melek of glory may come in. Psalm 24:10 Who, then, is this Melek of glory? Yahweh Tsebaoth is the Melek of glory! Selah Psalm 29:10 Yahweh sat enthroned over the flood. Yahweh sits enthroned as Melek forever. Psalm 44:4 You alone are my Melek, O Elohim. You won those victories for Jacob. Psalm 47:2 We must fear Yahweh, Elyon. He is the great Melek of the whole earth. Psalm 47:6 Make music to praise Elohim. Play music for him! Make music to praise our Melek. Play music for him! Psalm 47:7 Elohim is the Melek of the whole earth. Make your best music for him! Psalm 68:24 Your festival processions, O Elohim, can be seen by everyone. They are the processions for my Elohim, my Melek, into the holy place. Psalm 74:12 And yet, from long ago Elohim has been my Melek, the one who has been victorious throughout the earth. Psalm 84:3 Even sparrows find a home, and swallows find a nest for themselves. There they hatch their young near your altars, O Yahweh Tsebaoth, my Melek and my Elohim. Psalm 95:3 Yahweh is a great El and a great Melek above all gods. Psalm 98:6 with trumpets and the playing of a ram’s horn. Shout happily in the presence of the Melek, Yahweh. Psalm 145:1 [ Psalm 145 ] [ A song of praise by David. ] I will highly praise you, my Elohim, the Melek. I will bless your name forever and ever. Psalm 149:2 Let Israel find joy in their creator. Let the people of Zion rejoice over their Melek. Isaiah 6:5 So I said, “Oh, no! I’m doomed. Every word that passes through my lips is sinful. I live among people with sinful lips. I have seen the Melek, Yahweh Tsebaoth!” Isaiah 33:22 Yahweh is our Shophet (Judge). Yahweh is our lawgiver. Yahweh is our Melek. Yahweh is our savior. Isaiah 41:21 “Present your case,” says Yahweh. “Bring forward your best arguments,” says Jacob’s Melek. Isaiah 43:15 I am Yahweh, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your Melek. Isaiah 44:6 [ The Nations Form Idols, But the Lord Formed Israel ] Yahweh is Israel’s Melek and Go’el( Redeemer). He is Yahweh Tsebaoth. This is what Yahweh says: I am the first and the last, and there is no Elohim except me. Jeremiah 10:7 Everyone fears you, O Melek of the Nations. This is what you deserve. No one is like you among all the wise people in the nations or in all their kingdoms. Jeremiah 46:18 “As I live,” declares the Melek, whose name is Yahweh Tsebaoth, “someone who is like Mount Tabor among the mountains will come. Someone who is like Mount Carmel by the sea will come. Jeremiah 48:15 The enemy will attack Moab and destroy its cities. Its finest young men will be slaughtered,” declares the Melek, whose name is Yahweh Tsebaoth. Jeremiah 51:57 I will make their officials and wise men drunk, along with their governors, officers, and soldiers. They will fall into a deep sleep and never wake up,” declares the Melek, whose name is Yahweh Tsebaoth. Zephaniah 3:15 Yahweh has reversed the judgments against you. He has forced out your enemies. The Melek of Israel, Yahweh, is with you. You will never fear disaster again. Zechariah 9:9 [ The Lord Sends His King ] Rejoice with all your heart, people of Zion! Shout in triumph, people of Jerusalem! Look! Your Melek is coming to you: He is righteous and victorious. He is humble and rides on a donkey, on a colt, a young pack animal. Zechariah 14:9 Yahweh will be Melek over all the earth. On that day Yahweh will be the only Lord and his name the only name. Zechariah 14:16 Everyone who is left from all the nations that attacked Jerusalem will come every year to worship the Melek, Yahweh Tsebaoth, and to celebrate the Festival of Booths. Zechariah 14:17 If any of the families on the earth won’t go to Jerusalem to worship the Melek, Yahweh Tsebaoth, then rain won’t fall on them. Malachi 1:14 “Cheaters are under a curse. They have male animals in their flocks that they vow to give as a sacrifice. But they sacrifice second-rate ones to Adonay instead. I am a great Melek,” says Yahweh Tsebaoth. “Among the nations my name is respected.
(Several of these verses also include Yahweh Tsebaoth, which is The LORD of Hosts, another military term, which you can read about here. )
The King is coming again. His Banner over us is of love and protection and identity and provision. He is holy, and worthy of our praise. He can be trusted. He will not abandon us.
Worship Melek in spirit and in truth, be blessed friend.