The Lord Our Banner
The battle in Exodus 17 was not just a skirmish on the edge of the desert it was in reality a battle for the future of God’s people.
The Amalekites were not just raiders on a random raid, they were the agents of Satan sent to destroy the very hope of the world. Among the millions of the Hebrews is a man who is the ancestor of the future king of Israel David. David is the ancestor of Joseph and Mary the line through which Jesus the savior of the world would be born. Destroy this man and his children and the hope of the world is destroyed. Destroy these people and the future writers of scripture are erased. Destroy Moses and God cannot give him the 10 commandments. Destroy Aaron and the tabernacle and its sacrifices are lost.
This battle was for much more than just the protection of some people crossing the wilderness, it was a battle for you and me, a battle for our families, our country and truly the entire world. Nor have the battles and their importance ended.
Unmerciful Enemy Comes Exodus 17:8-10
Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
The Amalekites were a tribe of nomadic raiders, who lived by bringing death to other surround nations or travelers near their borders. As the Hebrews drew near to their territory they make a tempting target. Usually these robber tribes would attack the flanks and rear of a moving caravan, killing, stealing supplies and taking slaves. Finally, Moses commanded Joshua the military leader of the nation, to of Israel chooses men, prepare for battle and to put an end to the raids. As the battle is launched Moses moves to the hill to watch and lift the rod toward heaven.
God’s people in all generations have an enemy. In fact our enemy today is the same one that empowered and inspired the Amalekites to attack the Hebrews. In much that same manner he attack us at our weakest place, he steal our life and if he can he will make slaves of all of us.
The Bible warns of him in many places but one of the most striking definitions is in 1 Peter 5.
1Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
Your life, your family, your very soul is under attack by the enemy who wishes to destroy all that is good in your life because all that is good represents God in your life. The Bible says that if there is any thing good in your life, no matter who you are or what you believe, that good comes from God.
James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
The Enemy is coming and he is unmerciful in his attacks and complete in his destruction because everything about you, as God’s creation in His image, fills him with rage.
Today the church, Christianity, the family and religious freedom are under the greatest attack in centuries. I could fill the rest of the sermon with nothing but example of the hurt, sorrow and pain that is being inflicted by the those under the power of the enemy.
In our country, Christians are labeled as haters, ridiculed and marginalized in society and never doubt who is truly in control of those forces. You aren’t standing against just political foes, you are fighting the spiritual enemy who empowers them just at Satan empowered the Amalekites. In other lands where Satan’s power is much greater, Christians are being slaughter, crucified, shot in public, beheaded and their children being sold into slavery.
Be sober, be vigilant because everything that it good, every gift of God, is at risk then the enemy comes.
Of course, many don’t believe in the Devil, or in put their faith in God. Perhaps they think that they can somehow remain neutral or fly under the radar and escape notice, but it is a false hope and those who think it is possible are often the most vulnerable to Satan and his attacks. You are either on the Lord’s side or Satan will do with you as he pleases and what please him is to destroy the goodness of God in all things.
As someone has said, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.”
There is a famous sermon “Pay Day Someday” by RG Lee who was pastor of 1st Baptist Memphis and in it he tells the story of the King of the Kangaroo Court.
Illustrations: The King of the Kangaroo Court – RG Lee Pastor Memphis, TN
When I was pastor of the First Baptist Church of New Orleans, all that I preached and taught was sent out over the radio. In my "fan mail" I received letters from a young man who called himself '"Chief of the Kangaroo Court." Many nasty, critical things he said. One day I received a telephone call from a nurse in the Charity Hospital of New Orleans. She said: "Pastor, there is a young man down here whose name we do not know, who will not tell us his name. All he will tell us is that he is chief of the Kangaroo Court. He is going to die. He says that you are the only preacher in New Orleans that he has ever heard -- and he has never seen you. He wants to see you. Will you come down?" "Yes," I replied. And I quit what I was doing and hurried down to the hospital.
The young nurse met me at the entrance to the charity ward and took me in. In a place by itself, somewhat removed from all other cots and beds, was a bed on which lay a young man about nineteen or twenty years of age -- big of frame, though the ravages of disease had brought a slenderness. The nurse, with little ado, introduced me to the young man, saying: "This, sir, is the Chief of the Kangaroo Court."
I found myself looking into two of the wildest, weirdest eves I have ever seen. As kindly as I could, I spoke, saying "Hello." "Howdy do?" he answered in a voice that was a discourteous and furious snarl -- more like the voice of a mad wolf than the voice of a rational man. '"Is there something I can do for you?" I asked as kindly as I could speak.
"No. Nothing! Not a thing. Nothin' 'tall! -- unless you throw my body to the buzzards when I am dead -- if the buzzards will have it!" he said, with half a shout and with a sort of fierce resentment that made me wonder why he had ever sent for me.
Then his voice lost some of the snarl -- and he spoke again. "I sent for you, sir, because I want you to tell these young fellows here something for me. I sent for you because I know you go up and down the land and talk to many young people. And I want you to tell 'em, and tell 'em every chance you get, that the Devil pays only in counterfeit money."
The Enemy of God not only seeks to destroy the people of God, he seeks to destroy all that is God and if you are deceived or if you surrender it makes no difference for in the end he always will destroy.
Uplifted Hands Exodus 17:11-13
And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
The Battle Won Then
When Moses held his hands up the People of God prevailed when he let them fall the people retreated. When he was too tired to stand alone, Aaron and Hur stood beside him. They then put him on the rock to rest. They grabbed his hands and once again raised them toward heaven. The battle was won because God’s man rested on the rock and good men shared the burden when it grew too heavy to bear.
The Battle Won Today
I believe the picture of Moses on the rock with his hands lifted toward heaven and Aaron and Hur standing beside him is a dynamic picture of how God wins through us today.
First, Moses hands toward heaven show us where strength must come from.
Moses knew that it was God’s power that would win the battle, God’s strength that would carry the day and God’s judgment that would destroy the enemy. So he lifted his hands toward heaven and beseeched God for his help and God poured His power into His people.
If we are to win the skirmishes for our soul, the fights for our family and the contest for our country, then we must know that only God’s power, strength and judgment can overcome the Enemy.
As Moses lifted up his hand in supplication for God’s strength, we must lift up our hearts in prayer for God’s power.
The rod represented God’s appointed tool for Moses leadership. It was appointed by God to be with him and used by him from the first calling at the burning bush. Without the rod of Moses that day battle would be lost.
God had given it to Moses for every obstacle, every battle, every question. When God wanted Moses to do something he would tell him, “Use the Rod, I have given you.”
The rod in Moses hand is what the Bible should be in our hand.
God has given it to us as the inspired, pure and holy Word of God. It contains every word and every thought that God wanted us to have.
He gives it to us to deal with every obstacle, question and to provide the guidance that we need.
2 Timothy 3:16 -17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
Moses would have failed and the battle would have been lost that day if He had not carried the rod with him. You and I will fail in our battles of life if we do not carry the Word of God with us. It should be in our hands, it should be in hearts and we must use it in the battles of our lives like Joshua uses his sword against the Amalekites.
Hebrew 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Finally, we should remember that the men beside Moses were vital to victory that day.
If they had not stood with their leader, if they had not put him on the rock when he began to grow weary, if they had not held up his arms when he was too tired to go on, then the Amalekites would have destroyed God’s people.
I stand before you today, not as Moses but simply as your pastor. Though I would never claim the mission of Moses, I would claim the help he received that day. I would ask you for myself, for my wife and for every missionary or pastor who God has ever placed in your life to hold us up in your love and prayers. Hold us up in your love when we are too tired to stand. Place us upon the Rock of Jesus Christ through your prayers and to join your hands with ours and hold them up in service to our Lord and Savior.
Illustration: Holding the Ropes
William Carey, before he was named the father of modern missions, was a shoemaker in England, but then God put the lost of India upon his heart. He yearned to go and to preach at a time when most believed, “If God wants the pagans saved He will do it without us.”
Once at an mission society meeting the preacher leading the service, called out to the assembly, "Who will go down to the heathen and take them the Gospel?" Carey spoke up and said, "I will go...but you must hold the rope for me!" He had in mind the image of a man descending into a pit to look for treasure but knew he could not succeed unless others held the rope in support.
For any leader of God to have a sustained ministry, he must have God’s power, God’s Word and God’s people as his help or he will fail. In all or our battles we all need God’s power, His Word and His help through our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Transition: One last thing needed to be done for the victory to be complete
Unforgettable Memorial Exodus 17:14-15
And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi:
The Hebrews Needed to Remember
God told Moses to write this battle and even in a book. It’s the book you hold in your hands today. God wanted them to remember what He had done to win the battle. He wanted Joshua to remember those who fought with him to remember God’s Power, remember God’s men and to remember the enemy that God would ultimately destroy.
Moses did as God said and he built an altar called the name of that memorial Jehovahnissi, which means the Lord Our Banner. A reminder of Moses raising his rod on high and finding the power of God.
The idea of the banner as Moses used it is not exactly the same as a banner today. The idea here is more that of a battle flag. He was reminding them that they fight under the power and to the glory of God. They move, march and fight under God’s colors and as His people.
In ancient times the battle flag was the way armies communicated and identified themselves. The battle flag was of vital importance and the honor of the soldiers was directly tied to their colors. The battle flag was always protected by a flag bearer and by an honor guard who in the midst of all the battles had only one job, protect their flag at all costs. There was no greater loss and no greater shame for a company of soldiers than to lose their colors.
Our need to Remember
Memorials are all around us and yet too often we fail to remember why they were built. Today in our nation many memorials are being destroyed. Don’t misunderstand me, long before they were tearing down the Confederate memorials they were tearing down the Christian memorials. Crosses, Bibles, plaques that were erected to honor heroes and the God they believed in were being systematically removed from public view. The enemy despises any reminder of God in our nation or schools.
But it is not just the secular arenas where memorials are being removed. Baptist Churches are removing the name of Baptist. Some Christians meeting together don’t even bother with the name church anymore. Have they forgotten those who dedicated their lives, sacrificed their future and even died that we might have the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Have we forget those who have held the banner of Christian and Baptist throughout the centuries?
Do we know the names of any of the people who were the church of Jesus before they were called Baptist? Have you read their stories, studied their lives and wept over their deaths? Do we remember the Paulicians, the Waldensians, or even the Anabaptists?
If we have forgotten, is there hope of winning the battles we fight now?
If we have forgotten them, forgotten the ones who fought to bring us God’s word in our language, the ones who died rather than accept the heresies of domination of the state church, will it be long before we forget the God under whose banner they fought?
Jesus warned the church in Sardis in Revelation 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Is that not exactly what we are seeing today in so many who call themselves Christian but do not stand for the truth that Christ taught? There is no chance to turn back the tide of sin and immorality in our communities and in our country without remembering the colors of God that we fight under. There is no hope of turning back the invasion of apathy and immorality unless we once remember and once again raise high our battle flag.
There is just one more aspect of lifting up our banner that I wish to present but it is by far the most important. In John 12:28 We hear a prayer of Jesus.
Illustration: If I be lifted up John 12:28-32
Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.
Lifting up the Battle Flag of God ultimately means lifting up Jesus Christ. He fought the battle of sin and death. He suffered as no other has ever suffered. He took on our sin. He died on that cursed tree and He rose from the grave, victorious and glorified in his power over the grave.
We fight a spiritual battle and we must remember the one who is leading us to victory. We must lift up Jesus Christ.
The Battle still rages around us
Satan and the Amalekites of today are attacking not just the fringes of our people but the very heart of our families, churches, heritage and society.
Where are we in this battle? Have we taken our position in the front lines? Have we ascend the hill to seek God’s power?
Are we lifting our eyes, our hands and our hearts to God beseeching him for the power and strength that we must have?
Are we holding for the word of God like Moses’ rod looking for God’s guidance?
Are we upholding God’s leaders in our prayers and service?
And today especially are we remembering the banner we fight under? Are we looking to Jesus Christ, always lifting him up in every battle we fight? For only when He is lifted up can we see the victory that is already ours.