As we continue to meditate on how the names of God help us to know Him more, we learn a third name of Jehovah. Jehovah Nissi means the Lord God OUR Banner. Meditating and knowing God through this name helps us define OUR identity by what He has done for us.
I think most people are looking for an identity and we don’t always start with God’s thoughts about us. Often, we start searching for our identity for the first time in junior high. I had a pretty good case of identity searching too. I tried multiple activities and groups as I searched for my identity. I tried athletics, drama, band, and even dance. The dance identity is probably the one that makes me giggle the most. If you know me well you would have never ever guessed that I would have wanted to dance. But, a friend of mine wanted to audition for the Pep Squad at school and I agreed to participate in a week long camp and audition with her for the squad. When tryout day came, I performed the routine we had learned and felt quite confident that I would not be on the squad. After a week of totally uncoordinated movements I had figured out dance was not for me. The Pep Squad list was posted on the cafeteria door and I was relieved to find I was not on it! However, some “dance moms” whose daughters didn’t make the team complained enough that it was decided that anyone who tried out would be on the team. I followed my friend to join and we ordered our pleated cheerleader skirts and pom poms.
Here is a critical detail you need to know about me in junior high. At this particular time I was about 6 inches taller than most of the other girls in my grade. It turns out the tallest girls get placed on the 50 yard line and then the height descends on either side. So, my incredibly uncoordinated, shy, modest 12 year old self was dead center of the entire football field shaking her hips. This is the stuff nightmares are made of. While I can’t say that at the end of the year I had figured out who I was, I definitely had taken a step in the process. I had learned that my eternal identity was not going to come from an extracurricular activity and God was beginning to reveal to me that His activity in my life was far more important that any identity I could create for myself.
In scripture we see this when God did something amazing for the Israelites in the desert, as they were learning their identity from His perspective. Israel went into battle with a group of people and Moses positioned himself in a place where he would raise his arms and pray for God to give Israel victory. The battle was won through God’s intervention. In fact, the Lord tells them He would blot out this enemy completely from under heaven. Total VICTORY!!! Moses built an altar to mark this milestone for the Israelites to remember. He called it Jehovah Nissi, the Lord Our Banner.
The Olympics are coming up and one of the things you and I will see over and over again is when athletes win they will raise their country’s flag over their heads in victory. The victory in Exodus was celebrated by worshipping God, by figuratively waving a banner in worship over their lives. It also foreshadows a victory God has over our lives today. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice we can claim a new identity and we can celebrate with a banner of God’s victory over our lives. Junior High wasn’t the last time I struggled with my identity. I continue to this day to wander from this truth and become distracted by trying to DO things to create an identity. I sincerely hope that when I am tempted to claim an identity other than His banner I will remember to stop and know that He has already claimed an identity on my behalf. He is my Jehovah Nissi.
“And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner”