11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.”
15 Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner.
Exodus 17:11-15 (New International Version)
Lifting Up God
The nation of Israel faced their first challenge in the wilderness. A group called the Amalekites have declared war against the children of God. They drew first blood by launching a surprise attack and killing some Israelites.
This cowardly act angered the Lord and He called Moses to mobilize Israel. Moses placed his aide Joshua in command of the army, while he went up a mountain above the battlefield. He lifted up his hands and prayed to the Lord God for Israel’s victory.
The Almighty heard Moses’s prayers, and as long as he lifted his hands, momentum was on Israel’s side. However, while Moses’s spirit was willing to keep praying, his body became tired and he needed to rest. Thankfully, his brother Aaron and another Israelite named Hur gave Moses a stone to sit on and they held his hands up and prayed with him until the Amalekites were defeated.
When the battle was over, Moses built an altar to the Lord. He understood that the battle was won not by his leadership, nor by the strength of the children of Israel. Instead, it was the Lord God who gave them the victory and deserves all the credit. That is why Moses called the altar, “The Lord is my Banner.” Like a man places a flag on an unclaimed land to declare his ownership of it, Moses was lifting up the Lord declaring that He is the banner which Israel will march under.
The Importance of Banners
Why are banner and flags so important to people? They represent what people believe in or what they recognize themselves as. For example, a soldier who has a flag of the United States on the shoulder of his uniform is saying to everyone that he is a warrior for the U.S. and that he believes in everything the nation stands for. However, banners also go beyond just identifying what country we are from or what team we are fans of.
Giving Credit Where It Isn’t Due
People also lift up , like one who raises a banner, certain things, declaring that they are the source of their success. People give credit to their victories in life in things like popularity, wealth, false religions, and positive thinking. These banners which people lift up however are small and flimsy when compared to the unpredictability that they face in this world. As a result, when unexpected hardships come, these banners break and fall to the ground, leaving the one who held it high to despair.
Giving God the Credit
If things like popularity and wealth can’t insure success, what will? Moses gave us the answer when he built the altar after the victory over the Amalekites. He didn’t dedicate it to himself, to Joshua, or to Israel; he dedicated it to the Lord. Moses knew that it was because of the Lord that they had this victory and that as long as lifted God up in their lives, they will continue to have victory.
Christ is Our Banner
It is only in the Lord that we have success and peace of mind. Therefore, let us put Him first in our lives. During the hard times, let’s raise God up high and draw the strength to stand firm in the storm. When we are given good things, may we give the Lord the credit due to Him and lift Him up in praise, for in Him, all blessings come. As Christians, let us never be ashamed of the One who saved us. Let’s lift up our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ everyday so that all will know that He is our banner.