Summary: In times of testing, God's people look to the Lord their God for protection from enemies without as well as the enemy within.
GOD OUR BANNER
The highlight of the International Olympics, for me and my household, is always the parade of nations during which youth from all over the world - who have gathered in a designated country to compete in sporting events – parade nation by nation around the stadium to be viewed by tens of thousands in the stands plus millions via television. They all have three things in common:
They are athletes . . . were chosen . . . carry the flag of the nation which they represent. The flag they carry identifies who they represent . . . signifies the honor they have been given . . . guarantees their place of distinction to be etched forever in their country’s historical record and in their personal resumes.
The Christian journey was aptly compared by the Apostle Paul to an athletic contest – specifically a race in which we run to attain the prize of our high calling in Christ Jesus - inasmuch as God’s people at the time were quite familiar with the “games” or “sporting events” that occurred in the great nations of the world.
The analogy precedes Paul’s era, however, because it is certainly applicable to the journey taken by God’s people under the leadership of Moses who had been God’s instrument for their deliverance from bondage. On their way to the Promised Land, they would find themselves in a contest with enemies of God.
There they were - wandering in the Wilderness of Sin (broken pieces of parched clay), enroute to Sinai . . . after having had their Marah turned into Rapha, where they vowed to trust and obey the LORD, for which God blessed them with 12 overflowing springs of water at Elim.
BUT, now that they had once again resumed their journey, these people once again fell into grumbling because of yet another lack of water whereupon God who is faithful once again met their need - this time at Rephidim.
Wouldn’t you know it? As soon as their thirst was quenched and everything seemed to be okay, God’s chosen people, in a contest for survival, were attacked by an enemy who hated God. The question was: Would these highly favored folks rise to the occasion and meet the challenge - Exodus 17:8-16 . . .
Heartless and vicious were Esau’s descendants the Amalekites! There is no reason given for their attack (Enemies of God never give a reason for attacking the faithful people of God). They just attack – militarily, yes, but also verbally . . . and any other means they can employ to harass, hinder, hurt the Cause of Good vs Evil.
That being said, Christians must always be on the alert, as admonished by Peter – I Peter 2:8-9 . . .
Worldwide in scope is the spiritual warfare in which the people of God are engaged! And our response must follow the pattern demonstrated by Moses and God’s people in the Wilderness of Sin. To withstand Satan’s attacks:
There must be devoted servants of the Most High God who will stand up, speak up, and never shut up until the enemy has been defeated.
Back then, the tandem of Joshua and Moses delivered a one-two knockout punch. One: Joshua led his soldiers onto the battlefield. Two: Moses went up the hill to pray.
Team work was the order of the day! While one engaged the enemy, the other prayed to God to defeat the enemy, and no one played games with the enemy.
While Joshua led the battle on the field, Moses invoked the power of God!
Through these two stalwart men of devotion, dedication, determination, God was at work to bring about victory for His people!
God has been, is now, and forevermore will be at work! God At Work! . . .
At Jireh, on a mountain top, the LORD our Provider used a lamb caught in a thicket to provide a sacrifice - a depiction of salvation. At Marah, where the water was bitter, the LORD our Healer used a tree to make things better. At Rephidim, the LORD our Banner used a rod and a staff to bring about the victory.
God had turned Moses’ staff into a snake . . . into an instrument for parting the Red Sea . . . into a divining rod for finding water in a desolate place.
Now, God turned that same staff into a Banner - identifying Who Joshua’s army represented, signifying the honor they had been given of fighting a battle for the LORD, guaranteeing a victory to be won in the Name of the LORD!
What the LORD promised He would do, He did! He gave His people a great Victory at Rephidim . . . at Calvary . . . He will give His people, called by His Name, the greatest of all Victories when Jesus shall return and Jesus shall reign.