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by Doctor Fred Wittman


by Dr. Fred Wittman Exodus 17:8-16

Introduction: About six weeks after being redeemed by blood in Egypt and redeemed by power in the Red Sea, the people of Israel came to Rephidim at the eastern foot of Mt. Horeb (Sinai), where there was no water to drink and they murmured against Moses. Then The God told him to smite the rock with his rod to obtain flowing water for the faint and weary multitude. So quickly must Israel learn that warfare follows redemption, but the victory is The LORDS. For Amalek and his army of people came up behind and attacked the weak and feeble ones including children (Deut. 25:17-19). And so it is in the life of the redeemed child of The God. So quickly after redemption, we learn we must face warfare.

Now read the story of warfare in Exodus 17:8-16.

[For an interesting study, look up the phrase “The Rod of God” in Strong’s Concordance and learn the significance of its use.]

  I. The Perception of The Name

A. Jehovah is the redemptive and covenant name of The God, The self-existent One Who reveals Himself.

B. Nissi means “to be conspicuous, i.e. as a flag, a standard, a signal, a sign.” The prime root of this word means “to gleam from afar” and carries the idea of a flag fluttering in the wind. Most often in Bible times it was a bare pole with a bright shining metal emblem that glittered in the Sun attached at the top. However, the Rod of God was just a wooden club about 4' long which Moses used to protect his sheep.

C. The Combined Name definition: Jehovah Nissi means “The Self-existent One Who Reveals Himself is our Banner (in Time of Warfare).”

 II. The Pertinence of The Name

     A. The Enemy - Who was the enemy?

1. The enemy was the offspring of Amalek, a people descended from Esau’s grandson by the concubine of Eliphaz, his eldest son (Gen. 36: 12). Esau was a profane man of the flesh (Gen. 25:29-34 cf. Heb. 12:16).

2. Men of war, first of nations (Gen. 36:12) and first to war against Israel (Num. 24:20). Later they were allied to Israel’s enemies, the Canaanites and the Midianites (Num. 14:45; Judges 6:3; 7:12).

3. These roving marauders originally settled in the land of Edom, but some migrated to Havilah in the wilderness of Zin, southwest of the Dead Sea where King Saul began to smite them (1 Sam. 15:7).

4. The attack came from behind at Rephidim. Either the Amalekites had roved to that area of the Wilderness of Sin and were aware of the escape from the Egyptians and the miracle of the Red Sea, which is most likely. Or news of that miracle travelled to Edom and immediately the Amalekites hurriedly travelled north to the King’s Highway at the peak of the Gulf of Aqaba and across the Arabian Peninsula to catch up to the slow-moving Israelites.

B. The Encounter

1. Israel’s Predicament (Ex. 17:8 cf. Deut. 25:17,18)

This fledgling nation of recently emancipated slaves was ill-equipped and inexperienced for warfare. It was forced to combat a well-equipped army of fully trained and well-experienced warriors to engage in a physical battle on a spiritual plain. These Amalekites attacked the weakest and feeblest people from the rear without warning.

         2. Moses’ Proposal (Ex. 17:9,10).

First Moses told Hoshea (meaning ‘salvation’) whose name he changed to Jehoshua (meaning ‘Jehovah is salvation’) to choose men to go out to fight Amalek, while on the morrow he would stand on the top of the hill with The Rod of God in his hand. So Joshua led the battle while Moses with Aaron and Hur went up to the top of the hill and lifted up The Rod of God. As long as The Rod of God was lifted high, Joshua prevailed. But when The Rod was let down Amalek and his people prevailed. Thus this was a spiritual battle on a physical plain.

What gave Moses the inclination to hold up his rod? It was his understanding of The God’s ways since meeting Him at the burning bush and The God’s commandment, was it not? (Ex. 4:17; 7:17; 9:22,23; 10:12,13,21,22; 14:16,21; 17:5,6 ). Seven previous times Moses lifted up his rod at The God’s Command. How many times does it take us to realize The God’s order and ways?

     C. The Exhibition (vs. 12,13).

The standard or banner for war was the same club that Moses carried while caring for and protecting the sheep in the wilderness and with which he smote the Nile and brought plagues upon Egypt and lifted over the Red Sea to open the way for the Israelites to pass through in salvation. At this time he lifted it to give victory to the people of Israel over Amalek and his people. As Moses lifted high The Rod on the hill, all the people could look at it and know that Jehovah was in charge of the battle. And Joshua discomfited (‘defeated in battle’) Amalek.

III. The Power of The Banner

     A. Protection by The Banner (vs. 11-13).

As long as The Banner could be seen lifted above the battle, Joshua prevailed in discomfiting Amalek. When it could not be seen because it was let down, Amalek prevailed. So it is in our battle with Satan and his forces of evil. When we fail to lift up The Lord Jesus Christ we are defeated. But as long as He is lifted high in our lives and above the battle, He prevails on our behalf.

     B. Participation with The Banner (vs. 10,13).

Note that there is participation on the part of Joshua and the people with the uplifted Banner. Joshua and the people had to be in the midst of the battle with the use of the sword in order for The LORD to be victorious. And so it is with us, we must use the Spoken Word of The God (The Sword of The Spirit) in order for Him to get the victory.

     C. Provocation of The LORD (v. 14,16).

Amalek and his people provoked the anger of The LORD even as Satan and his forces have persistently provoked Him and incurred His judgment. Amalek came under The God’s judgment (Ex. 17:14,16; Num. 24:20). He was to be executed by King Saul (1 Sam. 15:2,3), who failed miserably by disobedience, which cost him his kingdom (1 Sam. 15:22-28). An Amalekite claimed the execution of Saul (2 Sam. 1:6-10). In the days of Hezekiah, Simeonites exterminated the tribe except for one Agagite (1Chron. 4:42,43), who lived to attempt eradication of Jews but failed (Esther 3:1,6; 9:24,25.


Amalek and his people prefigure Satan and his forces of evil which are opposed to the God and His people and persistently engage in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:12).

They also represent the kingdoms of this world who are enemies against The Christ, His Church, and The Kingdom of The God (Mt. 16:18; Lk. 4:5; Jas. 4:4; 1 Jn 5:19; Rev. 11:15;12:10; 16:13,14,16).

The Children of The God who are redeemed by the blood of The Passover Lamb and by power must participate in this warfare, which is fought in this wilderness on the way to the Promised Land.

There is victory when The God’s people persistently trust Him and keep looking unto our Banner (2 Chron. 32:8; Heb. 12:2) and failure when we trust in our own strength.

Every child of The God is involved in warfare (1 Tim. 1:18; 2 Tim. 2:3,4; 4:7; Jude 3; Eph. 6:11-18), but we are victors through Him Who loved us by persistently trusting Him (1 Jn. 5:4; Rom. 8:31,37; 1 Cor 15:57; 2 Cor. 2:14-16).


How will you respond to The God’s challenge to war a good warfare (1 Tim. 1:18)?

Will it be promptly, precisely, and persistently depending upon and persistently looking unto The Banner as did Moses and Joshua?

If so, you can count upon Jehovah Nissi, The LORD Thy Banner surely to be faithful, surely to be with you, and surely to provide victory for you!

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Last modified: October 16, 2005