#9 The “Names of God” Series
("The Lord my Banner!")
TEXT: Exodus 17:8-16
INTRO: It is very fashionable these days to march with a banner waving: Some have marched to the following:
"Ban the Bomb"
Everyone marches to some banner, even if it is not written on a placard and held for all to see, all one has to do is look and listen to find out what banner they march to. Our very lives should reflect the very glory of God … and thus show Him off as our banner.
ILLUS: The other night I took our family dog for a walk. It was a full moon, so bright that we cast a shadow as we walked along. But of course the moon has no light of its own. It shone, and it lit us up so brightly, because the sun was shining on it. It merely reflected the sun's light. In the same way, we have no glory of our own, only such as is reflected from the light of Christ that shines upon us. That is what we live for: to bask in that radiance, to reflect it, to bring it to the world around us, not for our own sake but for the praise of his glory. -- John Guest in Only a Prayer Away. Christianity Today, Vol. 36, no. 2.
PROP. SENT: The Scriptures teach us that as God's people we are to raise high the Lord Jesus as our Banner for all men to see! We do this by how we speak and what we reveal in the way we live! The Lord is our Banner!
I. BANNER OF GOD'S AUTHORITY Ex. 17:8-9
A. Attacked! Ex. 17:8
1. Forces of this world are opposed to God and His people!
2. Our walk with God will be challenged by this world!
a. The world will challenge our values.
b. The world will challenge our faith in God.
c. The world will challenge our passions and emotions.
3. You cannot live godly and go unchallenged in an ungodly world!
a. Society will challenge your sincerity and faith.
b. Sickness may challenge your trust in God's goodness.
c. Trials will challenge your patience in God's will.
d. A permissive moral atmosphere will challenge your spiritual discipline and God's ideas of right and wrong.
4. Ultimately however, it won’t be the challenges or the damages from the challenges that win, but the testimony in spite of the challenges that we lift up! Crippled hands raised to God in glory can be a great banner!
ILLUS: Five or six years ago I visited a church in Connecticut. In the middle of the Eucharistic liturgy, when the whole congregation was kneeling and singing the "Alleluia," I saw a woman near me with her hands lifted in praise. The thing was, those hands were terribly twisted and gnarled, and she had a pair of crutches near her. Dear Christ, I thought, what makes Christians sing "Alleluia"? Clearly there was something besides self-interest welling up from that woman in the act of praise. -- ames S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 17.
B. Attacking! Ex. 17:9
1. Standing with the staff of God!
a. Moses’ staff was the symbol of God's authority and power.
b. It was a symbol or banner of God's presence and authority!
c. Notice Moses took it to the top of the mountain for all to see!
d. He wanted
e. Moses held this authority and power in his hands, so do we today!
ILLUS: The gospel is not defense, but rather attack, and it is up to the world to decide its position! The gospel is glad tidings; and we will not allow the gladness it gives to be taken from us! -- Martin Niemoller in Exile in the Fatherland; letters edited by Hubert G. Locke. Christianity Today, Vol. 31, no. 15.
2. Top of the hill was Moses' place of prayer, he often went to the top to pray and be with God.
a. Symbol of prayer as the source of receiving this authority.
b. It is by prayer that God's gives us His authority and power.
c. The disciples learned this with the boy who was an epileptic in Mark 9:14-29, their authority in trying to cast the sickness out of this boy didn't work, when they asked Jesus why, He responded that they hadn't prayed!
d. If we don't pray we won't receive God's power or authority!
e. We dare not stand up against this world or Satan unless we have God's staff in hand!
II. BANNER OF GOD'S ABILITY Ex. 17:10-13
A. Army! Ex. 17:10-12
1. The effective nature of carrying a banner is determined by having more than one person marching to it!
2. Different responsibilities – one heart of unity!
a. Joshua led the actual fighting.
b. Moses prayed and held up the Lord's staff and gave God's orders.
c. Aaron and Hur supported Moses' weakness, they helped support him in his weakness – as his arms tired they help keep them up!
d. They all had different jobs to do but one heart to do it! And one banner to march to!
e. By working together God was able to show Himself strong through His people and they were able to be victorious! It took their unity for His power to be demonstrated!
ILLUS: During Operation Desert Storm, the Iraqi war machine was overwhelmed by the Coalition Forces' ability to strike strategic targets with never-seen-before accuracy. Unknown to the Iraqis, the Allied Supreme Command had dropped Special Operations Forces (SOF) deep behind enemy lines. These men provided bombing coordinates for military targets and first-hand reports on the effectiveness of subsequent bombing missions.
To avoid unintended targets, pinpoint bombing was often required. A soldier from a SOF unit standing on the ground would request an aircraft high overhead to drop a laser-guided missile. Using a hand-held laser, the soldier would point at the target. The missile would hone in on the soldier's target for the hit.
In much the same way, the prayers of Christians focus the attention of the spiritual powers on high. -- Steve Schertzinger in Fresh Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching (Baker), from the editors of Leadership.
3. Their unity was evident by their mutual support and that support was an indication that God was their banner!
B. Assurance Ex. 17:13
1. In prayer and unity there will be victory!
a. You will note that while Moses kept his arms up with the help of Aaron and Hur it states here that Joshua overcame the enemy with the sword!
b. It was the combined efforts of them all working together under the same banner that allowed them all to win that day!
2. The disciples on the day of Pentecost were "in one accord" and victory came!
ILLUS: God will inevitably appear to disappoint the man who is attempting to use him as a convenience, a prop, or a comfort for his own plans. God has never been known to disappoint the man who sincerely wants to cooperate with his own purposes. -- J. B. Phillips (1906-1982) -- Edythe Draper, Draper's Book of Quotations for the Christian World (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1992). Entry 4468.
4. Joshua had victory, not because they were just good fighters, but because God was their banner – this assured their victory!
III. BANNER OF GOD'S ACTIVITY Ex. 17:14-16
A. Announcement! Ex. 17:14
1. Memory serves as a fact that God is our banner, His activity is recorded in our life's story.
a. It is good to remember what God has done; it is like waving the banner of the Lord's goodness
b. It is a banner we can continue to march to!
2. Moses was told not only to write it down for memory but to be sure Joshua is told about it!
a. This is why we should give testimony to God's goodness.
b. A testimony is like waving a banner.
ILLUS: One Sunday on their way home from church, a little girl turned to her mother and said, "Mommy, the preacher's sermon this morning confused me. The mother said, "Oh? Why is that?" The little girl replied, "Well, he said that God is bigger than we are. Is that true?" The mother replied, "Yes, that's true, honey." "And he also said that God lives in us? Is that true Mommy?" Again the mother replied, "Yes." "Well," said the little girl, "if God is bigger than us and he lives in us, wouldn't He show through?" -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988), p. 303.
c. It is not enough to write down in our memories what God has done; they need to be spoken to our brethren!
d. We are to announce that God is our banner and our power!
B. Altar (Prayer & Praise) Ex. 17:15-16
1. When we are weak we have an altar – one of prayer and praise.
a. The altar was a place to bring a sacrifice; here it was a reminder of hands lifted up to the throne of God – of prayer!
b. The very purpose of an altar was to be able to bring a sacrifice.
c. We are called to offer up to God a “sacrifice of praise.” (Heb. 13:15-16)
2. Praise is another way of waving the banner. It is not as much about an “experience” as much as it is about an “expression” of God as our Banner.
ILLUS: I am dismayed by the popular phrase "worship experience" to describe the church's corporate worship. Worship has the capacity to transform us, because it focuses our hearts and minds on God--God seen in one another, in ourselves and in the world around us. However, the phrase "worship experience" suggests that worship is important because it induces feelings. In this context worship is focused more on the worshiper than on the One worshipped. ... We need to ask ourselves what a true worship experience is so that if we had one, we could recognize it. -- Mark Horst in “The Christian Century” (Nov. 11, 1987). Christianity Today, Vol. 32, no. 2.
3. Jesus himself was our sacrifice, “the Lord our Banner!” He said in John 12:32 "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto myself."
CONCLUSION: Which banner are you waving before the world, banners of equal rights, of liberation, of no bombs, or some other temporal thing? These by themselves will never bring a lasting change to the world, only the “Lord our Banner” can do this! In your life wave before the world the real banner – “Jehovah-Nissi” – THE LORD OUR BANNER! It is a banner you can march to and live by!