Week Nine, Day Two
Ancient armies carried standards or banners that served as marks of identification and as symbols that embodied the ideals of a people. A banner, like a flag, was something that could be seen from afar, serving as a rallying point for troops before a battle. Though banners were first used in Egypt, Babylonia, Assyria, and Persia, the Israelites carried them on their march through the desert. When you pray to Yahweh Nissi, you are praying to the God who is powerful enough to overcome any foe.
Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. 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." (Exodus 17:15-16)
PRAYING THE NAME
Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. 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." (Exodus 17:15-16)
Reflect On: Exodus 17:8-15
Praise God: Because there is no greater power in heaven or on earth.
Offer Thanks: For God's power at work in your life.
Confess: Your tendency to try to fight your own battles in your own strength.
Ask God: To increase your faith in his desire to use his power on your behalf.
On November 9, 1989, the border between East and West Berlin was suddenly thrown open. Hordes of East Germans rushed to the western part of the city, creating a kind of jubilant chaos. At one border crossing so many people crowded onto an old bridge that it collapsed and another was hastily built to accommodate the crowds. When the Berlin Wall finally came down, the entire world cheered, amazed at how suddenly freedom had come to this communist nation.
Many of us naively thought of this newfound freedom as a kind of "event," as something that had been accomplished the minute the wall was torn down and the old guard run out. We had little idea of the painful process that would ensue as Germany and Russia and other Eastern European countries struggled to adjust to their new freedoms. As one commentator said, demolishing the physical wall was simple. Demolishing the wall in the minds of the people—that would take much longer.
It was the same for the Israelites who had won a certain kind of freedom when they crossed the Red Sea. God dealt a death blow to their Egyptian overlords when Moses raised his staff over the waters, making a divine pathway through the sea. But as the former slaves adjusted to their new freedoms, they discovered numerous internal and external enemies.
Their first battle after leaving Egypt was with the Amalekites. The Amalekite strategy of attacking the weakest and of trying to thwart God's plan for his people made them perpetual enemies of God. When Moses held up the staff of God as Joshua fought against the Amalekites, he was holding a visible sign of God's power, like a banner, for all the people to see. Whenever his hands grew tired and he lowered the staff, the Amalekites began winning. That's when Aaron and Hur began supporting his hands so the Israelites would not waver in their battle.
But what relevance does this ancient story have today? If you picture the Amalekites as a symbol of all the forces that oppose God, you begin to realize the spiritual battles that still face us. Just as the Israelites were freed from their bondage to Egypt, we are freed from bondage to sin and Satan the moment we surrender ourselves to Christ. But we still face countless battles on our way to the promised land of heaven. Some of the worst of these are internal, as we struggle to overcome the dividing wall in our own souls—a kind of spiritual ambivalence that makes us easy prey for our enemies. Today as you face spiritual battles of many kinds, remember to hold high the banner of God's power, knowing that he alone gives the victory no matter how fierce the enemy.
For more from Ann Spangler, visit her blogspot on Christianity.com. Be sure to check out Ann's newest book, Praying the Attributes of God: A Daily Guide to Experiencing His Greatness.