Introduction: Historically and even today a banner signifies that by which military troops or citizens of a country, tribe or group are identified or around which the troops or citizens rally. The banner is also often carried by people leading a band and behind which all of the musicians follow and fall in line. So, by recognizing and praying this name of God, we are saying we rally behind Jehovah. He is our banner, to whom we look and it is He whom we follow. I’ve taken a moment to study scriptural references to the LORD as our banner and I have found the Word to be amazing on this subject.
1. THE WAR: ENMITY WITH AMALEKITES - (also: Sin, the world, the devil)
Exodus 17:14 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven."The Amalekites represent three things that are always warring against the children of God: Sin, the world, and the devil. Ever since the fall, God said there will be enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). The battle with the Amalekites is a picture of this battle. We know that one day the memory of Amalek-sin, satan, and the world - will be completely blotted out, but until then, there is this war.
15 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. 16 He 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." emphasis added
We also see that it is the LORD who will be at war against the Amalekites. Joshua led the army against the Amalekites while Moses, with help and encouragement from Aaron and Hur, lifted up his hands to the throne of the LORD.
2. CONVICTION: GOD'S GRACIOUS GIFT, LEADING TO REPENTENCE
Deliverence begins with conviction. When Israel sinned against God in the wilderness, He sent serpents to drive them back to Him. And His provision provided healing and life:
Numbers 21:4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, "Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!"
6 Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, "We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us." So Moses prayed for the people.
8 The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. emphasis added
At its core, the Fall consisted of rebellion and insubordination to the claims and rights of the Creator over the creature. Adam and Eve opted for an independent and irreligious existence from God. After making themselves enemies of God, Adam and Eve were immediately stricken with guilt and shame associated with their sin. "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. " (Gen. 3:7) and "He (Adam) answered, "I heard you (God) in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
Similarly, Israel developed a serious pattern of rebelling and complaining against God and the servants of God while they wondered in the wilderness. So often I do the same today as a meander thru this pilgrimage. But God, in His mercy, usually does not strike us dead right on the spot (as we deserve) nor does He leave us dead in our trespasses forever. He sends a spirit of conviction so that we might repent. The people in Moses day prayed that the snakes would be taken away, instead the LORD provided a banner - the bronze snake on the pole. All who looked it were healed and lived. That is a picture of redemption, as we will see.
3. REDEMPTION: GOD’S PLAN IN HISTORY, CULMINATING IN CHRIST
The Redeemer's work is continuous and prophesied:
Isaiah 11: 10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious. 11 In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea.
12 He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. emphasis added
Victory arrives in Christ - the seed of the woman
John 3: 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.
The only thing more persistent than or continuous as our rebellion against God through the ages is His gracious provision, culminating in the Messiah. His redemption was foretold in Genesis 3:15, typified in Moses' bronze serpent, and prophesied throughout the old testament. The thoroughly obedient God-Man, who knew no sin, became our mediator and offered himself as a ransom for our continued disobedience. Praise Him for His faithfulness.
4. THE BRIDE OF CHRIST: BETROTHED TO OUR TRUE HUSBAND.
Let us not stop at justification. We've also been adopted as children of God and grafted into His body. Not only this. We have been bethrothed to our redeemer. He has made the unlovable lovely in His sight and has taken us unto Himself to be His own.
Song 2:1 I am a rose of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys.
2 As a lily among brambles,
so is my love among the young women.
3 As an apple tree among the trees of the forest,
so is my beloved among the young men.
With great delight I sat in his shadow,
and his fruit was sweet to my taste,
4 He brought me to the banqueting house,
and his banner over me was love.
Because of God's great love for us through redemption, adoption and in Him calling us to Himself, we are now free to Love Him and glorify Him in our very lives. So we worship Him in Spirit and in Truth.
We lift our hands to His throne, singing and saying "the LORD is our banner" and none other.
We have absolutely nothing in our hands to commend ourselves to Him, except His very own banner of love. And although we have no dowry to offer Him, He has prepared for us a feast in His banqueting house to be cherished. His banner over us is love. Believe it.
5. HIS BANQUET FEAST: AND OUR THREE-FOLD MISSION
Christ's banner of love over us ought to motivate us to encourage one another to not forsake meeting together as an assembly, to sit under the preaching of the Word, and to partake of the sacraments, given as a means of Grace for HIs Bride until He returns. Let us not be like those in Jesus' parable who were invited to the Great Banquet, but who were too busy to attend, having just bought a field, or embarked upon a new vocation, or gotten married.
As a key means of grace, we see through The Lord's Supper the past, the already, and the not-yet of life under His banner.
a. In the Lord's Supper, we celebrate what Christ has already done for us:
As He broke it and gave it to His disciples, He said, “’This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’” (Luke 22:19-21)
b. We also consider our present relationship with Him and His body:
In the Lord's Supper, we continue to participate in Christ's death and in the new covenant because we participate in His life through the Church. Paul wrote:
"Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 10:16).
In the Lord’s Supper, we show that we share in Jesus Christ. We commune with him. We are united in him through the body, and when we partake, we examine ourselves so as to continue to walk in the light.
c. The Lord's Supper reminds of Christ's return:
Whenever we participate, we are reminded of Jesus’ promise. There will be a great messianic "banquet," a "wedding supper" of celebration. The bread and wine are miniature rehearsals of what will be the greatest victory celebration in all history. Paul wrote that "For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26). In that day, we will come as those who came to the banquet in the parable, thirsty and needy.
God as Jehovah Nissi reminds us who we were, who we are, and what we're called to be.
Let us hold up Christ's Banner and call others to salvation, just as Jesus had the servant do in His parable:
‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.'
Rally around His Banner of Love only. And let us call all ethnē to do the same in love to serve as one body in Christ!