15Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. 16He said, “For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”
Exodus 17:15-16

Many years ago I read a statement that shocked me. Henry Blackaby and Claude King, in their book Experiencing God wrote:

Throughout the Bible God took the initiative to reveal Himself to people by experience. Frequently when God revealed Himself to a person, that person gave God a new name or described Him in a new way…Bible names, titles and descriptions of God indentify how the men and women of the Bible personally came to know God. The Scripture is a record of God’s revelation of Himself to man. Each of the many names for God is a part of that revelation.
Experiencing God, by Henry T. Blackaby and Clalude V. King, Boardman & Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN; 1994; page 5

Prior to that I had always thought of the Hebrews as learning the names like we learned them, but that is totally incorrect. They identified or created the name by experiencing His nature or character. I went on to write in the margin of the book:

Perhaps having God’s Word makes us overly dependent on learning about God and less dependent on knowing God.

I’m not advocating that we quit reading Scripture and certainly not advocating that we base our doctrine on our experience instead of God’s Word, but I am recognizing the importance of experiencing God and allowing that experience to make His Word come alive.

Exodus 17 provides an example of Moses experiencing God and creating a meaningful name to describe Him. Moses spent the day standing on a hill, holding his staff high over his head while Joshua led the Israelites in battle against the Amalekites.

As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.
Exodus 17:11

When Moses’ arms grew tired, Aaron and Hur held them up. At the end of the day, Joshua had won the victory over those who had attacked the Israelites.

Jehovah-Nissi – The Lord, My Banner
It was at that point, when Moses was undoubtedly exhausted from standing and holding his staff high over the battle that was occurring in the valley below that Moses said “The Lord is my Banner.” It must have felt to Moses like he was holding the victory banner – that is, something that symbolized victory – over the battle as it ensued below him. But when the battle was won, I can easily imagine an exhausted Moses realizing that it was God who had won the victory – it was God who had held the victory banner over the Israelites so that they might win against their aggressors, the Amalekites. He knelt down and built an altar and said “Jehovah-Nissi” – The Lord, My Banner.

Moses experienced God’s protection for himself and all the Israelites and created the name Jehovah-Nissi. Have you experienced God’s protection? Perhaps Jehovah-Nissi or The Lord-My Banner doesn’t have personal significance to you. I do hope you have a greater understanding of the experience Moses would have had that caused him to create that name for God. Let me encourage you, however, to consider developing your own names for God. No, I am not suggesting you add to Scripture, but I am suggesting you recognize experiences with God by creating names that honor and glorify Him and His characteristics.

The Lord, My Cast
Many years ago, my husband Phil tore the ligaments in his ankle. Can you say “ouch?” He was in a cast for six weeks. When the cast was removed, he felt a bit nervous as he took his first wobbly steps – unprotected and vulnerable. It was at that time that he created a name for God that has meaning for him – The Lord, My Cast. He recognized that God puts a protection around us that enables us to walk without fear of breaking and without the pain that would otherwise be experienced. When God’s protection is removed, we are vulnerable to any and all outside forces that would seek to harm us.

Whether you know Him as Jehovah-Nissi, The Lord-My Cast, or some name that you have created that declares God’s protection over you, I pray that you will (1) experience God today and (2) know that He is your Protector – your Banner and your Cast.

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