The Lord is Your Banner
And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord is My Banner(Exodus 17:15)
The Bible is filled with examples of God helping His people come to know the reality of who He is through their experiences. As Joshua and the Israelites were fighting their relentless enemies, the Amalekites, Moses oversaw the battle from a nearby mountain. While he held his hands up to God the Israelites were victorious, but whenever he lowered his weary arms, the Israelites began to lose.
God gave Israel victory over the Amalekites that day, and Moses built an altar to commemorate the occasion. He named it “The Lord is My Banner.” A banner was a standard or flag that armies, tribes, or nations carried in their front ranks as they marched into battle. It could be difficult at times to recognize an army as it marched through dusty fields. But when you saw it’s banner held high, you could immediately discern if the army was friend or for, and you could gain a sense of its strength by understanding which king or nation it represented. The title “The Lord is My Banner” indicated that the Is belonged to God and that to oppose them was to battle against the power of God.
Moses’ uplifted hands gave constant glory to God, indicating the battle was His and that the people of Israel belonged to Him. Israel came to understand God in a fresh and powerful way that day, realizing anew that they were God’s people and that He was their defender.(Exodus 17:8-15)
God’s names in Scripture reveal something of His nature, activity, or character. You come to know God by experience- at His initiative- as He allows you to learn something new about Him. You grow to know Him more intimately and personally. As you grow, you will naturally want to express your praise, gratitude, and worship to Him. One of the ways to worship Him is to praise and honor Him by acknowledging His names.
Henry and Richard Blackaby
There’s a couple things we can learn from this story. First of all we can take comfort in the fact that God always takes care of His people. It is certainly in times like these that we need reminded of that truth. I think most of us feel that our world and to some degree our personal lives are spinning out of control. I’m sure we recognize that in all that’s taking place, no human solution seems apparent. As you all have heard me say many times, I’m glad that I’m a Christian. This answers a lot of questions and provides the hope and confidence to face uncertain days. I love the words of the song “Because He Lives.” It goes like this: “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, Because He lives, all fear is gone, Because I know He holds the future and life is worth the living because He lives. I do not know how things will turn out. I know that Jesus said that in the last days before His coming that a lot of terrible things would happen(Matthew 24). But our confidence lies in the assurance that we are His children and the He will always be with us and go before us. If you’ve been listening to our study on prayer, one of the sessions discusses all the names of God by which we may experience Him. The uncertainties of life can be faced with the certainty of being a child of God and knowing Him by experience.
Second, we must learn that we are not lonely individuals facing insurmountable odds alone. As Moses becomes weary and can no longer keep his arms up, he is seated on a stone and Aaron and Hur hold his arm up until the battle is won. We all get weary at times. Perhaps you’re weary with all that life has thrown at you. If so, take heart, rest in the strength of your brothers and sisters in Christ. In the story we see how God uses each of us with our unique gifts working together to accomplish His purposes. Moses is on the mountain with his hands raised, Joshua is in the valley leading the army, and Aaron and Hur are holding up Moses’ arms. I hope each of us knows how important we are to the work of God no matter what our role is. In God’s kingdom every person is important no matter the role. In God’s kingdom there are no meaningless or unimportant people.
So let us face the uncertain future with the knowledge that God is with us and for us. Let us face it together, either holding up others or being held up by others. Let us recognize that our role and gifts are valuable and that we ourselves are valuable. Let us cease to compete and instead let us labor together for the kingdom of God to come!
Dr. John Thompson