Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Joshua was called by God to take action. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You’re to fight the battle. You’re to mortify the deeds of the flesh. You’re to work out your salvation. You are to blot out the memory of Amalek. You’re responsible in this battle. You can’t just say, “Oh, I’m just going to sit here and hope God will overcome all these enemies in my life.” You have to fight.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Friday, August 8, 2014.

All week we’ve been beginning to look at the life of a regular man who was used by God.  Nancy’s continuing in the series "Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 1): Learning to Be Victorious."

We’ve spent a meaningful week and a half with Joshua, seeing how he began his leadership among the people of Israel. His need for God was great, and his obedience led him to action. We’re continuing in this series, Lessons from the Life of Joshua (Part 1): Learning to be Victorious.

Nancy: Think back to a time when you’ve seen a sports team beat a really tough opponent to win a national championship. What happens? Or what happens when an army wins a decisive victory over the enemy? What happens next?

We celebrate! We have a victory party. You've seen pictures of a victory party, whether it is after the Super Bowl victory or a military victory. I think back to pictures we've seen of V.E. Day in 1945 of New York City and the throngs of people in the streets cheering.

We honor our heroes. We have speeches; we have parades; we have write-ups in the newspaper; we have interviews. Medals may be given out—Super Bowl rings—especially if the winner was an underdog, as was the case in the battle we’ve been studying in Exodus chapter 17, where the Israelites were fighting against the Amalekites. The Israelites were the underdog, but God gave a great victory by His power.

We read about that in Exodus chapter 17, verse 13. “Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.”

We said in the last session that word overwhelmed means he mowed them down! This was a decisive victory. So what happens next, after the battle?

It’s interesting, as we get into this passage, that we don’t see any hero’s welcome for Joshua. No victory laps! It’s clear that Joshua led these forces. There was a great victory. But you don’t see the kind of celebration going on, the honoring of heroes that you might have expected.

You see, Joshua knew that he could not take credit for this victory. We saw earlier in this series that Joshua was untested, he was unproven, he had never been a leader in a battle before. This is the first time we ever see Joshua’s name in the Scriptures.

Moses was the leader. But Moses said to Joshua, “You go down and fight that battle.”

Joshua wasn’t equipped or prepared or fit for this battle. He was just a learner. He was just in training. And in the euphoria of this massive victory, he knew that he was dependent on a power far greater than his own. He was merely an instrument that God had used.

He was not the conqueror. He was not the hero of the story. And he was not in a position to seek or receive credit for what God had done. Nor for that matter did Moses seek or receive credit for what God had done.

You don’t see, in this account, Moses or Joshua making a big deal about their role in this battle—how hard they had worked, how tired they got, how greatly God used them. These men come out as models of humble, God-centered service and leadership.

This was not Moses’ story. This was not Joshua’s story. This was not their victory. This was God’s story. This was God’s victory. And as I’ve meditated on this passage, I’ve thought, How many times have I sought or accepted praise or congratulations for victories won, praise that rightly belonged to the Lord?

I’m in a position in ministry where people often thank me for the ministry. They say, “This book that you wrote . . .,” or “This time you spoke . . .,” or “This particular program on Revive Our Hearts . . . it touched my heart. God used it to change my life.”

I will usually say, “God is the one. I’m so thankful for the way God has used the ministry in your life.” But God knows the many times in my own heart when I have stolen the glory and enjoyed too much taking some credit for myself, when I know if I’d stop and think about it, this can’t be explained in terms of anything I did. This was God’s victory. This is God’s story. I’m just an instrument. I’m just a participant in what God is doing.

So we come to the end of this account. We’ve spent the last several days on this story in Exodus chapter 17, and I want to see how they did celebrate this victory over the Amalekites. They did it by setting up two memorials.

Now, throughout Joshua’s life, which we’re going to be studying for some time here, we’re going to see the importance of memorials. Memorials are visible, tangible reminders of the acts of God.

I’ve gone through the accounts in the Old Testament—Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, and the book of Joshua—and marked those memorials in my Bible with a capital “M” with a box around it (just in the margin of my Bible), so I can go through and I can see those memorials.

And this is the first of those memorials. At this point at the end of this victory, Moses established two memorials—reminders of what God had done that day. You see the first one in verse 14.

Then the Lord said to Moses, "Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

At God’s instruction, Moses recorded the incident—this whole battle—that had taken place. He recorded it in a book. And he read the account to Joshua along with God’s promise to exterminate all the Amalekites.

These are things that Joshua would need to remember—things he would need to know years later as he was fighting other battles. And I’ve thought about how God has used journaling to be a memorial in my own life.

Now, I’ve done it off and on over the years. There’s nothing in the Bible that says you have to keep a journal or what that journal has to look like. But I have found that there’s a wonderful benefit of using a journal as a memorial, a memorial of God’s deeds, His acts, His victories, His words—what God has done in my life, in our ministry, in my family, and in the lives of others around me.

A journal becomes a record of God’s faithfulness. And it has long-term value. It helps us to remember down the road. Maybe when we’re discouraged or we’re not seeing the hand of God in our lives, we can go back and look at those memorials recorded in that journal, and we can remember the faithfulness of God, remember what God did.

I’ve been encouraged so many times by going back and reading memorials that I’ve written out from past years. It becomes an encouragement as we face future battles. I don’t know why it is that whatever battle we’re in currently always seems so looming, so overwhelming, so difficult, so challenging.

I find myself in my own life and in our ministry coming up against the enemy, so to speak, again and again, and I’ll get terrified! I say, “I don’t know how I can do this. The enemy is so large. This sin is so difficult for me to deal with,” or “This situation is so challenging.”

I open up my memorials, my journals from the past, and I read about past encounters with the enemy, past battles that seemed so overwhelming, so difficult. And I see how God came through, and my heart is encouraged, my faith is stretched. And I say, “God has been faithful in the past. God will be faithful for me in this situation today.”

I’m reminded that there is no enemy that God cannot overcome. I’m reminded that it’s not in my own strength that I fight this battle, that God is the one that sustains me. God is the one who is going to win the victory, and I’m dependent on Him.

Those journals not only become a memorial for us, but for the next generation—memorials for your children. It was forty years later that Joshua became the leader of the people of God. He had this memorial, this incident written in a book to remind him—as he went into Canaan forty years later to fight those battles—to remind him a generation later of the first battle that he had fought.

The people of Israel who would be the warriors when Joshua went into Canaan forty years later—they were children or young people or not even born yet in the day when Joshua fought this battle. And so this memorial would become a reminder for them years later.

Your journals may become reminders to your children, to your grandchildren, to explain to your children what God has done. Your children need to know the stories of how God has dealt with you, of how He has come through in your life, and those stories will sustain them, will train them, will challenge them, will encourage them in their battles in the next generation.

So the first memorial is a book. And then we see the second memorial in verse 15, “And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord is my banner” (Ex. 17:15). Some of your translations give the Hebrew phrase here, Jehovah-nissi, which means “the Lord is my banner.”

So Moses not only wrote this incident in a book, but he also built an altar—an altar for the purpose of worship, an altar for the purpose of proclaiming that we did not win this battle. Jehovah won this battle. The troops of Israel fought under His banner, under His leadership. And he named that altar Jehovah-nissi, the Lord is my banner.

The word banner is a word that can mean "flag or standard." One Bible dictionary explains it this way.

The banner of a military force is important and dear to its soldiers. It identifies the company it represents. It is ever lifted high for all to see. It marks the gathering place of the soldiers who are represented by it. It goes before them in their march into the battle. It is quickly raised again when the soldier carrying it falls in the fray. It goes before them in their parade when they return victoriously.1

It reminds them whose they are, who they are fighting for, who they’re connected to. It goes into battle with them, it stays with them in battle, and it comes out of the battle and is raised high when they go into their victory parade.

Jehovah-nissi: The Lord is our banner. The lifting up of the rod of God in the hand of Moses symbolized the presence of God, the power of God. This was the banner under which Joshua and the troops of Israel had fought and won this battle. So they need to be careful to give glory and praise to God. That’s why they built this altar and called it Jehovah-nissi.

Christ is our banner. He is our Jehovah-nissiHe is the rallying point for his people. It’s under his banner that we rally, and it’s in His name and by His power that we wage spiritual war. It’s under His name and by His power that we are victorious over sin and every spiritual enemy.

Verse 14,

The Lord said to Moses, "Recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven." And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord is my banner [Jehovah-nissi], saying, “A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

There’s a lot in those last couple of verses. And actually, the English translation varies from translation to translation. Scholars and commentators all agree this is a tough passage to translate accurately, to know exactly what the Hebrew is saying here. But I think there are some things that are clear.

“The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” We’ve said throughout this series that Amalek is a type in the Scripture of all types of forces of evil that set themselves against God. We are reminded that we are in an ongoing battle against the enemies of God.

Those enemies are very personal enemies—the devil, our own flesh, indwelling sin. How often is it that we realize, “I am in a battle, and it’s going on inside. No one else can see that battle, but I know it’s raging, the battle between my flesh and the Spirit of God. And I know what God is wanting me to do, but the flesh is warring against the Spirit.”

That’s Amalek that dwells within. There’s Satan who is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour, always seeking to undo and to destroy the troops and the forces of God. There’s the world system that is set against God. Satan uses many world rulers and powers, the powers of wickedness and darkness in high places.

Satan is ever at work throughout this world system, seeking to destroy God. And God says, “I will be at war against Amalek (against all forces of evil) from generation to generation” (Ex. 17:16 paraphrased).

Sometimes it feels like it’s a losing war. Sometimes we feel that the forces of God are being crumpled, overcome, destroyed. We can look around in our culture and its seems that the tidal wave of evil is so great. We can look around in our national situation, and we can see evil triumphing—at points of elections, at points when people are being put in charge of different areas of our culture and society. We say, "It looks like evil nations, evil rulers are winning. Sometimes as God’s people we can be tempted to despair, to get discouraged."

But this passage reminds us that God is still in the battle, that He is still our banner, and He has promised that He will blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven, that we are on the winning side.

There are times in this battle with Amalek that Amalek seemed to be prevailing. Remember every time Moses’ hands fell down, Amalek would prevail. Amalek is strong. Amalek is powerful. But Amalek is no match for Jehovah.

If you are a child of God fighting with Him . . . now, we’re not talking about fighting with physical weapons. We’re not talking about fighting with hatred or anger or marching in the streets. We’re talking about a spiritual battle and spiritual weapons and spiritual warfare, but you can know that you’re on the winning side.

God has said, “I will . . . blot out the memory of Amalek” (v. 14). That’s a reminder that we cannot afford to strike a truce with our spiritual enemies. God wants them wiped out. We’ve got to agree with God to give no place to our flesh, to give no place to the enemy, to Satan, to give no place to worldly thinking in our minds and in our hearts.

We cannot control what the rest of the world does, but we can say, "God, You are victorious in my heart, and I am not going to strike a truce with the enemy. I'm not willing to co-exist with Amalek in my life. I see Amalek coming in and fighting in my heart. I see sin issues, recurring sin issues, besetting sins that I battle with in my own life, but I'm not going to stop battling." Because God says, “I want to blot it out.”

The day is coming when I will stand before Christ pure, free from the presence of sin, free from the battle with sin. Until then I am not going to lie down and say, “Okay. We’ll just let a little Amalek be here in my heart.” I’m going to keep fighting.

There are days when I lose, and there are days when Amalek prevails. But I’m going to keep doing battle, because God says, “I will have war against Amalek from generation to generation. Don’t stop fighting, because I’m going to blot him out” (paraphrased).

So I need to deal with those enemies of self, pride, lust, greed. And if we’re not determined to exterminate them, they will keep coming back to plague us. But as we do battle with them, we need to remember that ultimately every enemy of God will be wiped out, blotted out.

As we think about this whole matter of spiritual warfare, dealing with sin, with flesh, with Satan, with this world system that has so much evil in it—and let me say, by the way, evil world leaders are just puppets, pawns in the hands of Satan, who is accomplishing his purposes in this world through them. This is not a flesh and blood battle.

In your marriage, if there’s a battle going on, your husband is not the enemy. He may be yielding ground to Satan or you may be yielding ground to Satan, but the battle is in the heavenlies. It’s a spiritual battle. In that battle, we have responsibility and God has responsibility. That point comes out in this passage in Exodus 17, especially when we put it with a parallel passage in the book of Deuteronomy.

In this passage of Exodus 17, God says, “I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven” (v. 14).

But when we get to Deuteronomy chapter 25, where this account is being retold by Moses years later, Moses tells it this way. Moses says, “You shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven” (v. 19).

In Exodus, God says, “I will blot out the memory of Amalek.”

In Deuteronomy, God says, “You shall blot out the memory of Amalek.”

Which is it? It’s both. It’s both. We’re to fight, and God is fighting. We have Joshua in the valley. We have Moses on the hill. That’s a picture of human responsibility and divine sovereignty. Both are involved in carrying out the will and the purposes of God.

We have to fight. We’re told, “Fight the good fight of the faith” (1 Tim. 6:12). And we’re responsible in this battle.

The apostle says, “Put to death—mortify—the deeds of the flesh” (Rom. 8:13 paraphrased). You have a responsibility. “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” Paul said to the Philippians (2:12).

You’re to fight the battle. You’re to mortify the deeds of the flesh. You’re to work out your own salvation. You’re to blot out the memory of Amalek. You’re responsible in this battle. You can’t just say, “Oh, I’m just going to sit here and hope that God will overcome all these enemies in my life. You have to fight.

I don’t like being a warrior. I don’t like being a soldier. I like to let other people fight battles. But God says if you’re a child of God, you’re in a battle. You have to put on the armor of God, and you have to fight. But we don’t fight alone, and we don’t fight in our own strength. God fights for us. God says, “I will blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13). That’s the same passage that just said in Philippians 2, “Work out your own salvation.” He goes on to say, “It’s God who is at work within you” (paraphrased). Human responsibility and divine responsibility.

The battle is the Lord’s. “Victory belongs to the Lord,” Proverbs 21 tells us (v. 31). Ultimate victory comes from Jehovah-nissi—the Lord is our banner. So we deal with the enemy through the power of Christ and the power of His cross.

His cross is our banner, and we are to lift high the banner of His cross and proclaim Him to the whole world, not to be ashamed of His cross, not to be ashamed of His banner, but to lift high the cross of Christ.

I think sometimes we’re ashamed to do that in this culture that emphasizes multi-culturalism, pluralism—all religions being equally valid except if it’s the Christian religion, which it’s often said, “You don’t have equal rights; everybody else does.”

Listen, ladies, we are to lift high the cross of Christ in this dark world and say Jehovah-nissi, Christ is our banner. His cross is our banner.

I love that old hymn that says,

Lift high the cross, the love of Christ proclaim
Till all the world adore His sacred Name.

Come, brethren, follow where our Captain trod,
Our King victorious, Christ the Son of God. 

Led on their way by this triumphant sign,
The hosts of God in conquering ranks combine. 

This is the sign which Satan's legions fear
And angels veil their faces to revere.

Saved by this Cross whereon their Lord was slain,
The sons of Adam their lost home regain. 

From north and south, from east and west they raise
In growing unison their songs of praise. 

For thy blest Cross which doth for all atone,
Creation's praises rise before thy throne. 2

What’s the outcome? Isaiah 11 refers to that banner again. It says, “In that day the root of Jesse . . .” (v. 10). Who’s that? That’s Jesus, Messiah. Jesus will stand as a banner for the peoples. The nations will rally to Him. And His place of rest will be glorious.

We’re in a battle. Jesus is our banner. Lift high the cross of Christ, but know that the day will come when the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Every knee will bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. He will stand as a banner. All the nations will rally to Him, and His place of rest will be glorious. 

Leslie: With any tough issue looming across your day, you have some responsibility to act. But it’s God who does the work. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing us the balance between the actions we take in faith and God’s ultimate ability to act for us.

To live this way, you have to be connected to the Lord every day; to have His priorities in mind; to remind yourself of His truth.

So I hope you’ll get Nancy’s book, A Place of Quiet Rest. She shows you how to develop a consistent, meaningful devotional life and why developing it is so crucial.

When you donate any amount to support the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, we’ll send you A Place of Quiet Rest. Call us by Monday the 11th with your gift and ask for the book. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Joshua’s faith was tested as he stood on a battlefield with fellow warriors. Most of us face battles in a much different arena, but we still need to stand side by side as we face them. Hear how women are supporting each other as they fight through various types of issues, Monday on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. 

1Daniel E. Parks, “Christ as Jehovah-Nissi.” 

2George William Kitchen and Michael Robert Newbolt, “Lift High the Cross, the Love of Christ Proclaim” (modified 1916).

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