This past week was my turn to teach the lesson in the third grade Sunday school class and the lesson was on Daniel in the lion’s den. (Daniel 6) Each week over the summer, the lessons have focused on a different aspect of God.
God is Holy.
God is Omniscient
God is Omnipotent – Shadrach, Meschach, and Abendego in the fiery furnace
God protects me – (Daniel in the lion’s den)
As I was preparing for the lesson, it kind of bugged me that this week’s focal point, God protects me, was out of the flow of the other focal points which were all “God IS.”
So I decided to look at the names of God to find one that conveyed the meaning of “God protects me” but could be stated as “God IS.”‘
Jehovah Nissi: God is my Banner
The name I used in the lesson was Jehovah Nissi, which means “God is my banner.”
This name is used in Exodus 17:15 when Moses builds an altar to God and gives thanks for their victory over the Amalekites. This was the battle where as long as Moses had his arms lifted with the staff of God in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage in the battle. When he lowered them, the Amalekites started winning. So Aaron and Hur held his arms up while Joshua led the Israelites to victory.
I explained that there are different names for God in the Bible for different aspects of who He is, because he is so awesome that one is not enough. For example, Jehovah Rapha means “God is my healer.”
We talked a little bit about how God had saved the Israelites again and again after bringing them out of Egypt. How he had fought for them. That he delivers.
Jehovah Nissi, The Lord is my Banner means: he is over us, he protects us, and he will bring us through.
I asked them if they knew the song, “His banner over me is love.” They had never heard of it. That was a Sunday school and VBS standby when I was growing up. I guess it’s not cool enough for Jump. 🙂
What Has God Done for You Lately?
As we were doing a craft, I asked them if they had any answered prayers this week.
One little girl had been praying for her aunt who was fighting brain cancer. The cancer was no longer active and growing and she had improved enough that she could walk and do things on her own.
Jehovah Nissi: God is my banner (and Jehovah Rapha.)
Another little girl said that she had been worried about hurting herself while doing an activity. She prayed about it and she didn’t hurt herself.
Jehovah Nissi: God is my banner.
A little boy said his mom was pregnant and he had prayed that she didn’t get sick. And she didn’t get sick.
Jehovah Nissi: God is my banner.
A little girl said that her grandma and grandpa had fallen into a lake and the water was really cold. Her grandma prayed and the water got warmer. (I’d like to hear more of this story.)
Jehovah Nissi: God is my banner.
What I thought was really awesome about these testimonies is that not only do they know they can go to God, even for the little things, but that they recognize that answers to prayers are also what God protects us from . . . and that protection is what we should be thankful for.
Answered Prayers in the Everyday
Afterward in my own Bible study class, the lesson was on the same chapter in Daniel. As I was listening, it struck me that the answer to Daniel’s prayer was not that the king’s actions were stopped, Daniel still had to go through the trial. And the answer wasn’t a showy supernatural event like an earthquake breaking open the prison where Paul and Silas were being kept as accounted in Acts 12:16-36.
No, Daniel, who was beloved and favored by God (Daniel 10:19,) still had to go to the lion’s den and he didn’t get delivered through a dramatic show, God simply sent an angel to shut the lions’ mouth. (Daniel 6:22)
Sometimes we say, “Why did God let this happen?” and don’t even stop to consider how many times God protects and guards us, keeping us from harm, and we don’t even notice.
Sometimes it is in the little things. That same day I went to pick up my girls from the airport. I’ve done this several times over the summer and it’s always a total production: parking, tracking down someone at ticketing that can give me an security pass to pick them up at the gate, going through security, etc. Each time I’ve gone to the airport, I’ve gone into a different terminal. It’s just confusing.
I arrived at the airport and actually got to the right parking garage without having to loop around a second time (which was a first.) I thought about parking on the roof, but reconsidered. If it rained, I didn’t want to be dealing with their bags.
I parked against the outside wall and started walking to where I thought the elevator was. A parking attendant drove up in a cart and asked me if I needed help. I asked her which elevator I should take to get to ticketing and she pointed me in the right direction.
I picked up the girls, got their bags, and we head out to the parking garage. We go to the 5th floor where I had parked, go to the outer wall . . . and I can’t find my car.
I knew it was really close to the row that the elevator was in, but I could not find it. I walk back to the elevator, and the attendant I had talked to was right in front of it. I asked her if there was another section of the 5th floor (which there was)
She said, “Are you sure you aren’t on that side?” pointing to the side opposite of where I thought I had parked. I didn’t think it was, but she said she remembered me and that was the side where she met me. Sure enough . . . my car was right there. I had been completely turned around when we came back out.
Later my youngest daughter said, “Mom, I think God sent that lady . . . she wasn’t an angel, but God sent her.” I said, “Yes, He certainly did.” (He knows I need help remembering where I park, so he prepared. 🙂 )
I know God was watching out for me so I wasn’t wandering around the parking lot.
Two days later I had two more occurrences of what I can only say is divine intervention.
One of my daughters was required to get a tetanus update before she could return to school. They were in and out during the summer, and quite frankly, I just completely forgot about it. They got back a week before school started and they wouldn’t let her attend class without proof of the booster shot.
I called her doctor’s office. They wouldn’t give the booster without a physical and they didn’t have an opening with her doctor in the location we normally go to until September. I was asking if there were other options for the booster, and she said, “Just a minute, let me check something else.” She was able to schedule an appointment for two days later with another doctor in one of their other locations.
That is called Grace – unmerited, totally undeserved favor.
When was the last time you were able to get an appointment that quickly?
A little later that same day, I was standing on top of a bed adjusting something on the wall. With the mattress and box spring, it is probably 3 feet off the floor. I stepped off, straight down at kind of a weird angle. As I did I thought, “I could have really messed up my knee doing that.” I know people who have had a serious knee injury doing a lot less. But again,
Jehovah Nissi – God is my banner.
Every Day is a Gift
A friend and I were discussing the Bible study lesson about Daniel and the fact that every day is a gift. That none of us have a guarantee for tomorrow and that God protects us so many times and we don’t even realize it.
I shared with her the experience in the Sunday school class and the testimonies of the kids that yes, God is Jehovah Nissi.
She shared something that had happened just a couple weeks before. She and her husband are expecting twins in a month. They also just moved to a new house.
They had picked up some items and were driving back to their house, caravaning. She was in the front car, a friend was in a car behind her, and her husband was in a car bringing up the rear.
She said traffic was really heavy the whole way home. They were stopped at a light. When the light turned green, she started to cross the intersection and she noticed a car barreling down the cross street coming towards the intersection and she knew he was not going to stop.
She swerved to the side to try to avoid the car and put more space between them when the car suddenly screeched to a stop with only about a car length between them.
Afterward, when they arrived at their destination, the friend who had been in the car behind her said when it saw it happening, he knew there was no way the car would stop and he was thinking,
“I don’t want to have to make that phone call.”
Besides the car suddenly stopping, she said that the whole drive there had been cars on either side of her. For some reason they just happened to hold back when the light turned green, otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to swerve to put more space between her and the approaching car.
God’s hand of protection was on her and her babies.
Jehovah Nissi – God is our banner.
(“I’m Amazed” performed by the Second Baptist North choir.)