Today’s Text of Encouragement:
“Our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.”
Psalm 33: 21
King James Version
Today’s Study Text:
“God went ahead of them in a Pillar of Cloud during the day to guide them on the way, and at night in a Pillar of Fire to give them light.”
Exodus 13: 21
The Message Bible
“The Pillar of Cloud and Fire” Part 3
“Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth.”
Psalm 60: 4
King James Version
What does it mean to me to have God’s “banner of love and truth” waving above me?
“My cloud of battle-dust may dim,
His veil of splendor curtain Him;
And, in the midnight of my fear,
I may not feel Him standing near;
But, as I lift mine eyes above,
His banner over me is love.”
“He brought me to the banqueting house, and His banner over me was love.”
The Song of Solomon 2: 4
King James Version
After hundreds of years in slavery, God, with the help of His chosen servant Moses, led His children out of bondage and into a barren desert which they were to traverse on their way to Canaan – the Promised Land.
Guided and protected by a pillar of cloud and fire, God’s children were instructed to follow His leading. But there was also another way the pillar served God’s children, for it also acted as a “banner,” or as the Hebrew translates this word: “a signal, a standard, a sign.” To better clarify the word banner I went to the dictionary where the word banner is defined in this interesting way: “A piece of material attached to a staff and used as a standard by a sovereign knight or military commander.”
Back in the days of the Knights of the Roundtable, as portrayed on screen, battles would often be led by opposing forces who carried banners out in front, marching before the army. Even today, when we see parades, such as the world famous Rose Parade in Pasadena, California on New Year’s Day, we witness banners being carried in front of marching bands, clearly identifying the school which is represented by various musicians who are following the banner, step-by-step.
It is interesting to think about the way God’s presence in the Pillar of Cloud and Fire came to be recognized as God’s “banner” over His children. But here’s the critical point regarding this banner. It wasn’t just some flimsy piece of fabric, embroidered with threads that contained a name. This banner, as the Psalmist David so beautifully conveys, was the signal or sign of the sovereign “leader” of God’s children.
And there’s a very critical point we need to note about our Father’s supreme rulership. God’s sovereignty was based on truth and love – the essence of His character.
As the children of Israel traveled across the desert with the Pillar of Cloud leading the way, providing a protective covering in the day and the warmth of fire and brightness of light at night, all the surrounding nations watched in awe as the sovereign God of truth and love became the banner under which His’ children walked each day. David descriptively describes this scene in Psalm 20: 5-8, “We will rejoice in Thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners: the Lord fulfill all thy petitions…Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.”
Now just picture for a moment, the children of Israel crossing the wasteland of a barren desert. As they moved across the parched land, a Pillar of guidance…of protection…and a banner of God’s truth and love covered them, signaling to the surrounding nations that the supreme Ruler of heaven and earth was the leader of this band of travelers.
As I thought about this scene with thousands of people marching from slavery to freedom under the banner of God’s love and truth, it became clear to me why a harlot named Rahab, long before God’s children ever arrived in Jericho, was able to make her firm decision for the God of heaven and earth whom she had witnessed leading His children. It is no wonder to me she was able to declare without a moment’s hesitancy to the two Israelite spies, “For the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath” (Joshua 2: 11, K.J.V.). She had seen the banner waving, but what’s more, she recognized that the God who was represented by the banner was the God of truth and love.
Many years ago, when I was in my early teens, my dad had to go to a convention where he was displaying materials for teaching children about Jesus. Needing some extra hands to help him, he coaxed me into going along and spending a day in the booth with him at the meeting. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. But one thing, which happened that day, left a lasting impression on my mind. Over the booth was a “banner” that carried the name of the company my dad represented. I was too young to understand the meaning that names often carried but I certainly learned something about this particular fact that day.
My dad happened to be busy in conversation with someone at the booth. A distinguished gentleman walked up to the booth and asked me about the name of the organization. I was just a kid and didn’t know what to say so I said, “Well, it belongs to my dad.” A huge smile crossed the man’s face and he said, “I know Jim, your father.” Then he continued, “Anything he does is top rate. He’s a man of integrity.” And as young as I was, I knew this man really knew my dad – for he had spoken the truth about what my father was like. The banner over our booth carried a name, but it reflected the character of the “man under the banner.”
We have the presence of our Father to guide us and to protect us. What’s more, we have His’ presence with us as we plant His banner over our lives and carry His love and truth with us every day. As the prophet Isaiah commends us: “Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain” (Isaiah 13: 2).
As we move forward in the coming year under our Father’s banner of love and truth, may the words of Thomas á Kempis inspire us to walk in step with our Father and under His banner: “Wait for the Lord…and be of good courage; do not distrust Him, do not leave thy place.”
“Father, You have promised to guide us when we are truly humble and dependent on You. You have promised to give wisdom generously to those who feel their lack of it. We come to You as Your children asking for a Father’s wise prompting as we wonder what course to take. Lead us in the right path, so that our lives may bring glory and honour to You. Through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lead us, O Father, in the paths of peace,
Without Your guiding hand we go astray,
And doubts appal and sorrows still increase;
Lead us through Christ, the true and living Way.”
“Thank You, Lord Jesus, that You will be our hiding place whatever happens.”
Corrie ten Boom
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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