Nobody loves their flag more than Americans. No matter where you go in the USA, at least 1 in 10 homes have a flag pole to proudly and patriotically fly their country’s flag. The ratio seems to be higher in trailer parks – perhaps those people are more American? Yesterday, July 4, many Americans celebrated their independence from Britain by having a barbeque, eating dessert decorated like the Star Spangled banner, watching an array of pyrotechnics and of course, waving their flag.
Flags, or banners, are an important symbol of our identity, the theme we are exploring for the whole month of July. When I see someone with an American flag, I know certain truths about them: I understand what language they speak, where their citizenship is, what their standard of living is, what freedoms they have, and so on. Likewise, if anyone sees my Canadian flag, people will know what standard I live under. The same is true for the German flag, the Korean flag or any other country flag. Your flag says a lot about who you are.
The Israelites also had flags, also called banner or standard. Numbers 2 outlines how the Israelites set up camp, according to their standard. The entire nation was represented by a standard, each tribe had a standard and each family unit had their own standard. The flags were used as directional agents also; they were the address to where your tent was located much like we have street, city, state/province and country addresses. Numbers 10 explains their battle position, according to their standard. Their position was so fierce that the enemy would run at the sight of their battle standard.
Isaiah 31:9 “Their stronghold will fall because of the terror; at the sight of the battle standard their commanders will panic.”
You may think that banners and flags are outdated and irrelevant to New Covenant believers. Not so. We are identified in heavenly places by the flag that we pledge allegiance to*; and we are still in a battle, although Paul reminds us that our battle is not flesh and blood but against the rulers, authorities and power and against the spiritual forces of evil.
Moses declared the name of the Lord, Jehovah Nissi, the Lord is my Banner. Later Isaiah, while speaking of Jesus, said:
Isaiah 12:10,12 “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…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 corners of the earth.
Jesus is our banner, our standard, the one we live under and when we raise up the standard in battle, the enemy takes flight – we don’t even have to do anything. In the words of Jehoshaphat, “You do not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions [with your standard]; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.”
I’m curious about your thoughts on this, is it new to think about the significance of the flag like it has been for me, or are you familiar with the biblical concepts of waving the flag in battle and identification?
*The Church of No People blog had an excellent discussion regarding the flag and where does your allegiance go, I read the blog regularly and I encourage you to check it out too.