Many years of my life felt like an all-out war. Not in the sense we think of when we talk about war, but we are all fighting a war against the unseen spiritual realm. Our world is incredibly broken and sinful, and filled with temptation and darkness at every turn. Growing up I always felt very alone. There was an apartment I lived in when I was very young, and there I was left on my own a lot of the time, or in the care of people who had no business caring for a small child.
I used to sneak out of the apartment and would find myself wandering in the woods behind the complex, and eventually I found a beautiful haven. There in the forest was a willow tree that billowed over a small pond with two little foot bridges on either end. Lily pads, frogs, birds, and rodents had made their homes there, and were surprisingly unalarmed by my tiny human presence. This place became my safe place. As time went on, this place became vital for my own survival. It was a place no one knew about, at a time when no one good in my life knew the bad that was happening to me.
At that point in my life there were a couple of people, one very young and one much older, who found me to be an easy target. I felt helpless and scared, and so I would run off into the woods, to the safety of that willow tree, for protection and peace. Looking back, and I think even then, I knew that Yahweh was there with me, bringing me into a safe place, hiding me away, and giving me comfort and peace even if only for a little while. God knew what was happening, He knew what I needed, and He provided for me. This safe haven, protection, peace, and all the ways God carried me through that chapter is exactly the aspects of God we are going to talk about today.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
The Lord is my Banner
Jehovah Nissi - Yahweh protects
'And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, ' Exodus 17:15
When armies go to war they bring their banner, declaring which side they are fighting for, the nation they are protecting and that supports them. The banner is a way to declare that the nation or kingdom whose banner is being displayed is under protection. In Exodus the Israelites went to war with the Amalekites at Rephidim, and the Israelites at that time were still wandering the wilderness after escaping slavery in Egypt. They were not warriors; they were farmers, herdsmen, recently-freed slaves. These people were fighting to survive in a harsh world, but they had something the armies they faced lacked. The Israelites had the banner of the Lord with them.
While the Lord was present with them, He was protecting them. They fought for their survival while trusting the Lord to protect them and make a way through the turmoil and fighting. Once this battle against the Amalekites was won Moses declared “The Lord is my Banner”, saying that God was with them, protecting them, and that the Israelites were fighting for and with the Lord.
Jehovah Nissi is with us in all the battles we face and He wants us to declare Him as our banner. With the Lord as our banner, we declare that not only do we trust Him to protect us, but that we are committed to Him also. The Lord is my Banner, the Lord protects, the Lord is with me always, no matter what I face. I have no reason to fear or be anxious, and I will declare my allegiance to Him no matter what I face.
'Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you." ' Deuteronomy 31:6
The Lord of Hosts
Jehovah Sabaoth - Yahweh of the armies
'Now this man used to go up year by year from his city to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord . ' 1 Samuel 1:3
Imagine being in the worst place you’ve been in your life. The place you felt like the darkness was consuming you and you had no way out. You feel like there is no “better life” for you, and like you are totally on your own and out of ammunition to keep fighting on. Now imagine a light peeking into that lonely darkness. You notice it, and as you look toward it,the light grows a little bigger as you ask yourself “Where did it come from? Should I follow it? Is this the way out?” It gets brighter, and you can’t help but be drawn to it, even though it feels like it is easier to stay right there and just give in to the darkness. But it just keeps getting bigger. It is consuming the darkness around you until the darkness is only an ant-sized speck behind you. The warmth of the light is like a hug, and surrounds you like armor.
This light is what the love of Jehovah Sabaoth is like. With Jehovah Sabaoth we never fight our battles alone. We have the creator of everything fighting for and with us, providing us with His protection and mercy. All armies, forces, and agencies are under His leadership or dominion. He has the power to win any war, any battle, any enemy. He can overcome any darkness that is overcoming us. In Him we have the protection of Heaven’s Armies to carry us out of and through any of the rotten places we find ourselves in.
'For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. ' Ephesians 6:12-13
The Lord is Peace
Yahweh Shalom - Yahweh of Peace
'Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites. ' Judges 6:24
In the church I was raised in we would always say “peace be with you” as a way of saying goodbye at the end of the service. As a kid I would roll my eyes every single time, thinking “yeh, right”. We were taught that with God we can feel unexplainable peace in times of trouble, and again I would roll my eyes. My life was so full of chaos and loneliness I could not imagine that peace was possible. Growing up in a nation at war, with veteran and active duty military in my family, planning my own future fighting that same war the term “peace” as I knew it held such a different meaning to me than the peace we receive from Yahweh Shalom.
When I was 16 I experienced a hip injury that would stay with me the rest of my life, a constant reminder of the assault that injured me. I had been preparing to join the Army before my senior year of High School, but I was injured before I could complete the process. This rocked my world. Not only had I experienced something terrible that hurt me, now my future was being permanently altered because of it. I was angry and began some massive self reflection. While regaining the ability to walk I remember laying there on the couch, day in and day out, feeling very alone. After a few months God had humbled me immensely and I started to understand what it means to have His peace.
Over the years I struggled a lot to find peace with what had happened and the physical ailments I live with every day. I got to a point where I understood that I’d been going down a very dangerous path and in order to heal I needed Yahweh Shalom. As I began giving myself over to Him, I started to find peace in the pain and memories. The nightmares didn’t come as often, I started doing things I enjoyed again, and with His help I started to heal.
This peace says yes, I am broken, and yes, my past is scary, but I am not alone, and God can heal my heart and help me grow stronger, I can forgive, move forward, and not let the weight of my past, my sins, my struggles hold me down. This is the peace felt when God lifts all the weight of sin from your shoulders and you feel like you can truly breathe for the first time in your life.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
The Lord will Provide
Jehovah-jireh or Yahweh Yireh - Yahweh provides
'So Abraham called the name of that place, "The Lord will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided." ' Genesis 22:14
It took a really long time for me to really trust that God would provide for me. In a single moment five years ago Jehovah-jireh spoke so clearly and powerfully to me “I will provide the way, just trust me” and I committed my entire welfare into the trust He would provide. Over the last five years I went from an abusive marriage, to a single mother barely able to make it by, to a woman with faith like I’d never known possible. As I started trusting Jehovah-jireh more and more, He provided so graciously. I found safety, healing, peace, joy, freedom, and I was in a stronger place financially as well. I went from incredible debt to incredible freedom through my complete surrender to Yahweh Yireh. I learned that no matter what I face, no matter the uncertainties, no matter what I think I am lacking, I know without question that He will always provide for my needs - and He will always provide for yours, too.
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:31-34
Our God is such an amazing God. He has such immense, immeasurable love for His people and when we focus on Him, we lack nothing. He is a peace-bringer, commander of Heaven’s armies, and the ultimate provider. Come back next week to find out more about who our God is.