by Michael Hobbis – National Coordinator
Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.
Banners, standards and ensigns, are given to armies by their commanders as a central point around which the troops may rally and be encouraged.
A banner is furled when there is no battle, or when the army is beaten, or has capitulated in abject surrender; so too when the banner is captured; defeat is usually not far away.
Whatever the state of the battle, the army always endeavours to keep its banner aloft and unfurled unto the very end. If the standard bearer is killed, then another takes his place, for it is a sign that the battle is still being fought and that they are a force to be reckoned with.
Moreover the banner unfurled signifies in whose name and for which cause the battle is raging. Worldly battles may be fought under despotic and wicked rulers; while opposing armies under their own banners fight against these tyrants.
In the Scripture set before us we are told that a banner has been given. It tells us by whom it has been given; to whom it has been given; the reason for it being given; and the purpose for it being so given.
The One who gives the banner
We are told firstly that it has been given by God, one who is holy, just and good in all His works. We may never have any fear that this Captain shall leave His sinking ship, or as Commander desert the field of battle, for not only is the King of kings Almighty; but faithful and changes not.
The One in whose hand is the breath of every living thing, is also the shield and defender of the saints. He has already defeated Satan and all his hosts of hell, and God’s soldiers now face a weakened and defeated enemy. A foe that may indeed do them some physical harm through his servants, but Apollyon can never finally overcome them, for their Saviour has conquered death and the devil, so they need not fear to die on the field of battle as martyrs. This is the One who gave His own life blood to pay the ransom for their eternal souls, that they may fight as those who can never truly die.
King Jesus passes this banner to them now, that they might fight against the World the Flesh and the devil: on their side is the Church – the spirit – and the Holy Ghost.
To whom it is given
This banner is not given to all men, but only to those who have enlisted in the army of their God and King. The proof of their so enlisting is that they wear the mark of this King: viz. they fear the Lord. They fear His name, they love Him yet exercise this love towards Him not only for His compassion and everlasting kindness; but they gaze upon His power and majesty, while they admire His beauty in His love they worship Him in the beauty of His holiness: for even the heavens are not clean in His sight. Therefore we who truly love Him in Christ Jesus also truly reverence and fear him in His omnipotent might. These who are given the banner of God are the saved ones, purchased not with the sacrificial blood of beasts: but with the precious blood of their God incarnate.
We carry the banner unfurled not merely out of a sense of duty alone as a slave – but out of an undying gratitude for His forbearance, love and mercy, and for who He is: Creator of heaven earth and the sea, and all that in them is.
Nelson as admiral before the battle of Trafalgar sent the famous message: ‘England expects every man to do his duty’.
How much more should the blood bought children of God carry aloft the standard of their Captain loyal and true; even our Immanuel.
The reason for this banner being so given
If the army went out to battle, yet out of shame kept the standard furled and hidden, or worse changed it for another: then to what ensign would the troops rally. It is to be unfurled or as the Scripture says: displayed, that all men may see its message and that there should be a rallying cry around it, indeed such should be its influence upon us that we may say that we cannot but speak of the things we have seen and heard, and take up our banner right loyally.
And what a gift this banner is; it has been passed down to us by successive generations of faithful worthies: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and that great army of the Church of faith; for time would fail us to tell of the number of these saints and the many martyrs who faithfully kept this standard aloft and stained it with their own blood and we look to Jesus who Himself was crucified for our sin, that this banner should be passed to us.
If heaven forbid we should be ashamed of this banner we shall justly merit that judgment pronounced by our Lord Jesus when he said: If any man be ashamed of me and my words (His banner); of him shall the Son of Man be ashamed when he cometh with his angels in glory. Let us stand loyally under His banner and cry to others to join us.
The purpose for which it is to be displayed
Because of the truth. Selah
Let us pause here as the Scripture Selah would seem to indicate; and consider solemnly, that it is possible to have this banner and yet not display it. Why is it to be displayed? – Because of the truth.
It is sad to recall that many who through tradition hold to the Bible authorised by King James yet keep the banner of Jesus furled. Indeed there are regimental museums where the old blood stained standards of this world’s armies are kept, these are cherished yet never held aloft any more .
There are many today in dead orthodoxy who admire the ‘old Bible’ and the lives of the puritans, but whose lives are diametrically opposed to the real religion of these godly saints. Even the atheists Richard Dawkins the scientis, and Melvin Bragg the broadcaster, both express their admiration and preference for this King James Bible, yet are rejecters of the truth it contains!
We are not to keep this precious vessel of truth confined to museums, or merely admired in Bible exhibitions; but to remember that this is a living Book through which the Living God still speaks to His saints, and is as relevant today as it was when it first came off the presses in 1611.
This standard of God is to be held aloft by those who love and believe the truth. We must stand by this Holy Book of God’s oracles and defend its truth unto death. Rather than let a word go, we should be like Tyndale that faithful translator of God’s Word who said of that work of translating: ‘I have never altered a single syllable of the Word of God against my conscience.’ We are to display our standard to all men because of its truth. By this truth we are re-born; by this truth we come to faith in Jesus; by this truth we are sanctified and by this truth called from our graves in resurrection power.
A Banner Unfurled
A banner unfurled we carry to fight.
A standard provided by God.
An ensign of truth to the way that is right,
And stained by the saints with their blood
My Lord is the One who gave it to thee,
And now you must hold it aloft.
Held high in the crowd, that all men may see
The salvation He bought at such cost.
A banner unfurled from a Saviour above,
Is for those who fear Him aright.
For those whom He saved in measureless love.
For those who now walk in the light.
It must be displayed; not hidden away.
Nor kept in museums of night.
It’s given to you, to me, and to thee,
That sin may be driven to flight
And what else does it say: this banner of love,
This ensign to truth and to right?
It carries the Word from the Father above:
O who will stand with us and fight?
(A personal footnote – After a recent quiet time with the Lord, the words: ‘a banner unfurled’ kept passing through my mind. Sure that they must be located somewhere in the Scriptures, I searched for them through a concordance. Of course I did not find them; but found the spirit of them in the above verse in Psalm 60:4.)
We need workers loyal and faithful to this Word to call men back to the old paths, and cry: with our banner unfurled – ‘Stand ye in the ways (the old paths) and see!’ Jeremiah 6: 16.
Join us now and let us hold aloft together our banner. In the opening chapters of Numbers we read that each tribe of Israel had their own standard.
Now in Christ Jesus we are all one; Jew and Gentile; male and female; under the same banner.
Who is on the Lord’s side. Let him stand with us now.
There are various ways by which the people of God might support this work and take a stand with us.
With much needed financial support.
By lifting up this work in prayer to God, that the Word may go forth and have free course and the Saviour glorified.
By active participation in local groups by joining with them, or as group leaders. Would those who feel so led to a closer involvement, please contact us.