Saturday, November 8, 2014

November 6 – A sure victory

And Moses built an altar and named it, “The Lord Is My Banner.” He said, “Indeed, my hand is lifted up toward the Lord’s throne. The Lord will be at war with Amalek from generation to generation.  (Exodus 15:16-17 HCSB)

On of the most famous pictures of Neil Armstrong shows him in the reflection of Buzz Aldrin’s space helmet, standing by the American flag that they had just planted on the moon.  Sir Edmund Hillary snapped a picture of his Sherpa guide holding an ice ax strung with the flags of Britain, Nepal, India and the UN on top of Mt. Everest in 1953. Banners and flags have been symbols of victory and conquest for centuries.  Armies from Europe to the Far East have marched into battle festooned with banners, and their sight would strike fear into the hearts of their enemies.  Their banners proclaimed who their might came from, and in this passage here, Moses declares that his banner is God Himself.

Moses led the people of God to victory, not by charging out into the battle as a military leader would, but by obeying God’s commands to stretch out his hands to heaven and hold up the staff that had been used so many times to perform God’s miracles.  As long as the staff was outstretched, the Israelites would win, but when Moses’ arms grew tired and he put them down, the enemies would begin to win.  With the help of his brother Aaron, and another faithful warrior Hur, he was able to keep his arms up until nightfall so that the enemy was completely routed.

There was no doubt that day who had won the victory.  It wasn’t just the Israelite army’s skill in battle, it wasn’t Moses’ leadership skills, it was God.  Yet even so, God wanted to use all of their abilities joined with His power.  God expects His people and His leaders to trust in Him and to carry out His instructions, to fight and even be willing to give their lives for Him.  God is our banner, but we need to be His army.  

Though that particular battle was finished Moses still says, “my hand is lifted up towards the Lord’s throne.”  He knew that this is the answer to every victory, turning to God, raising his hopes to the One who has the power to overcome any enemy.  God told Moses to write down the story of that battle on a scroll and read it aloud to Joshua, so that he too could learn this lesson, as he would take over the leadership of Israel in the years to come.  

We need to remember our victories, and how we used our faith to overcome.  Write down what God has done, and repeat that same faith and even stronger faith with each successive battle.  Amelek was a nation that symbolizes the devil and his attacks.  We are at war every day, whether we acknowledge it or not.  Learning from our experiences is what will make us stronger, and learning from the experiences of the heroes of faith that we know around us, and the heroes of the Bible, will keep us safe.  We will always have to fight, but if our banner is God, then our victory is sure. 

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