Jehovah Nissi

Maybe I am weird or maybe I am just like you, but I think there is something beautiful in the fact the Lord is the fighter of battles. Maybe it is because I do not like to get dirty or that if I had to wear camo to something I would probably be sick that day, or maybe it is because I know that I would not survive in the hunger games. Either way, fighter is not the word I would use to describe me.

So, for me, there is beauty in the picture that God paints for us in Exodus 17. Moses is called into action and his people are called to fight. This fight is a beautiful picture of God’s love for his people and their call to follow him at all times, to work together, and to rely fully on the Lord in all time.
Moment of truth….I have tried to fight battles on my own, and I have tried to fight the Lord’s battles without him….it rarely ends well for me.

As you read Exodus 17:1-16, you see God bring Moses and his people into a time of fighting where when they stand under his banner they prevail. Moses was called to lift up a rod in God’s name. When his arms grew tired and the rod fell, the Israelites would begin to lose the battle. In these moments Moses’ friends built a resting place for Moses’ arm, and there he held the rod until the sun went down and Joshua overwhelmed the Amaleks.

As I read the story I saw how God protected his people when they were in his will. When that rod was where it was suppose to be, God’s people where all over that fighting business. And when that arm fell, so did the winning momentum.

I have so been here. I have been waging war on sin or an issue and felt so confident in who the Lord is thinking, “yeah I got this, what!” Yet somewhere in this path spending time with the Lord gets hard or praying stops, or I think for a moment, “I could do this on my own.” And then BAM I am losing the battle!

What struck me as I was reading this passage was that when the holding of the rod got hard Moses had people to come help him. His people built him a resting spot to help hold his arm up. His people knew him well, knew the real battle, and were willing to help. Moses’ people knew having the Lord’s banner over them was so important they needed to do something.

So, in the end Moses names the alter Jehovah Nissi, The Lord is My Banner. What an amazing name. When I think about a banner I go straight to my high school marching band days, and the banner with our name on it that went before us. The banner was there so people would know who we were and who we belonged to.

God’s banner is even more powerful than that school banner. God’s banner goes before and sets the path, God’s banner goes before and fights for us, and God’s banner goes before and conquers.
What a powerful banner we all should stand behind and follow.

About the Writer:
Liz, just a girl who spends her days in seminary classes, spends her afternoons interning with First Baptist Dallas Women’s, spends her evenings with her friends laughing and challenging the definition of community to be something much deeper. If you need her you can probably find her watching Dancing with the Stars while on Pinterest, challenging the worldly norm of a 28 year old.

“No” or “Yes”?

I wish I could write that I identify with the hero of this blog today – with Isaiah. But honestly, I identify more with Moses. On many other days of his life, Moses is a great one to emulate! But on this day, his faith isn’t stellar, and his understanding is negligible of the terms he uses to address God and refer to himself. They are only . . . terms. And that is a hard truth I’ve learned about myself.

Most commonly I refer to God as “Lord” in prayer. Occasionally, “Lord, show me what you want me to do.” But too often, “Lord, blah, blah, blah.” Addressing Him as Lord from habit and not with a submissive, obedient heart. Saying, “Lord” with no sense of its meaning both on His behalf and on mine as His servant.

The Hebrew word “Adonai” is the word most often translated “Lord” (lowercase “ord”) in the Old Testament. Its meaning is like a double-sided coin. It speaks of a Master who is sovereign, owns his servants, and lovingly provides all they need.

Flip it, and it speaks of us as His servants ready to obey His every command and utterly dependent on Him. It is the relationship of a perfect, loving Master and His servants.

At the site of a bush bursting with flames, Moses encounters the LORD (Yahveh), who tells Moses some crazy stuff. God says He is going to deliver His people, His hundreds of thousands of people, from slavery in Egypt. And He invites Moses to be the one He uses to do it. Moses’ response is,

. . . “Oh, my Lord (Adonai), I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue. . .  Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”  Exodus 4:10, 13 (ESV)

Did you notice what Moses calls himself? A “servant.” And what he calls God? “Adonai,” which, again, means Sovereign Master. Moses answers, . . . “No.” If we ever hope to see God’s purpose unfold in our lives, it will probably behoove us never to say, “Adonai” and “No” in the same sentence. But I have.  Maybe not out loud, but my actions shout it. At those times, “Lord” is just a term.

Contrast Moses’ response to Isaiah’s. After Isaiah’s encounter with the Lord (Adonai), high and lifted up, God asks a question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah immediately responds, before He knows the job description, “Here am I, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8). Adonai deserves that kind of submission.

Like any slave, I have a purchase price. But it is a higher price than any slave owner ever had to pay. Adonai, my Master, was obedient as a servant to the cross. When I ponder my purchase price, how can “Adonai” ever become a meaningless term? How can I ever say, “No”?

About the Writer:
Joni Cleveland is passionate about searching after God and sharing what He teaches her, her husband and family, her grandkids’ giggles, peppermint chocolate chip ice cream, and Jesus-loving conversations around a table with good friends. She is a teacher for Refresh and Refresh@Night Bible studies at First Dallas.

God Most High—So High, Yet So Near

Recently, I strolled through a prayer garden of statues in a city near our home. The number of idols scattered throughout the garden was eye opening. Some stood erect, some sat proudly with strange smiles spread across their faces, while others reclined as though nothing mattered. I walked on and thanked God that He is God Most High, that He is real, and that He cares for people.

The Hebrew name of God, El Elyon—God Most High, is first mentioned in Genesis 14—a passage filled with chaos, wars, pagan kings who saw themselves as powerful and high above others, and God’s man, Abram. Abram raised his hand in promise to El Elyon, assured that God Most High was active in the chaos. Abram knew that God Most High was high above all men—kings and regular people.

But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth . . .” Genesis 14:22

God Most High—is high above your chaotic situation, but He is not removed from it! In His time, by His sovereign power, He works in the chaos!

My little sister and I spent hours pretending in our childhood. One of our favorite make-believe sessions was played out on an old-fashioned swing set. You know what I mean, don’t you—a letter “A” linked to another letter “A” by a long bar across the top? On our old swing set, two wooden swings dangled from chains attached to the cross bar

In our minds, our swing set became a grand trapeze in a colossal circus. We were (drum roll, please) the Amazing Smith Sisters—a daring trapeze duo, balancing on the letter “A’s” and leaning in to grab the swings dangling from the chains.God Most High

Artwork by artist Mitzi Saddo

Being the oldest Smith sister gave me supremacy in our make-believe act. I sat in my swing lifted high above my younger sister, Karen. In my imagination, I saw myself high and lifted up—high above the make-believe audience below. It was all in fun. But, if I continued that make-believe practice today, I would not be normal!

If I—a child of the Most High God—see myself as high and lifted up, able to do what I desire at any cost, if I hold my opinions, my rights, my dreams, and my possessions in the highest place; then my thinking is abnormal!

I will not acknowledge Him as God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth—possessor of me! I will not know He is at work in my chaos!

May our thinking be right!

In the whole wide world, there is no god made of stone, carved out of wood, crafted from any other material, or raised up in our minds that can compare to El Elyon, God Most High!

About the Writer:
God’s grace has proven sufficient in Cindy’s life over and over again, and she loves sharing His truths! She is a daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother who enjoys travel, flowers, fresh herb and vegetable gardens, compelling books, a cup of robust coffee, a pot of tea and warm scones, lively family meals, good cries, hearty laughs, and long walks with her husband, Doug. 

The Value of a Name

Among several mementoes hanging on my back porch is a sign, “Rev. B. R.  Devin, Pastor.” Each name reveals an aspect of him, though rarely are all the names used together. The B. was inherited from his father and grandfather Bernard. No one called him Bernard, except probably his mother when he was in trouble. The R. is Robert. Most people called him Bob, but I called him Daddy.B. robert Devin sign

If we, as individuals, carry many names, then it is no wonder that God would have many. For further study, read the books by Ken Hemphill, Nathan Stone, or Ann Spangler. One good website source is http://www.gotquestions.org/names-of-God.html, but caution is needed when entering cyber-space. There are false teachings on the subject, whose purpose is to steal God’s identity for false gods.

For example, Muslims attempt to prove we worship the same God, based on the truth that the term “Allah” is derived from the same root word as El-oah, a form of the word Elohim, which is a much-used name of God. You know, like the song lyrics say, “You like po-tay-to, and I like po-tah-to,” but in this case it’s “You say Elohim and I say Allah.” However, there is a vast difference in the Triune God we worship — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and the god of Islam who has no son. We do not worship the same El.

God has a more specific name, YHWH (Yahweh), “I AM WHO I AM.” It doesn’t denote an attribute, like the God who sees or the God who heals. It is simply God’s unique name. For example, most of my dad’s names denote either origin or position, except Robert (Bob). Bob was simply his personal name, and it was the most used of all his names.

In the same way, YHWH is used the most in the Bible, 6519 times. Out of respect for the holiness of His name, it is usually translated to English as LORD or Jehovah. Some exceptions are made in the Holman Christian Standard Bible. A good example is when “identity theft” was occurring against God through Ahab, who was leading the country toward allegiance to Baal, son of El. EL, get it? Elijah set up a contest to prove who was the true God. When it was over, the people shouted, “Yahweh, He is God! Yahweh! He is God!” (1 Kings 18:39)

In this day of political correctness, He still says, “I am Yahweh, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another or My praise to idols.” (Isaiah 42:8 HCSB)

The LORD also speaks of the name of Jesus, “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. “  Philippians 2:9-11

About the Writer:
Ruthe Turner misspells her own name, ever since a church secretary spelled it with an e in a church directory. Ruthe felt it was wise to not correct a church secretary! There is so much more to learn about the names of God, and the suggested authors’ books are available at Truett Memorial Library of First Baptist Church.