Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Raising our Banner
In reading the Old Testament, I notice that ancient people built altars a lot. Every time something significant occurred, they erected a new one to commemorate the occasion. In addition, when God designed His Tabernacle in the desert and the Temple in Jerusalem, He specified that each contain an altar also. On each of these altars, the same activities took place: slaughter and sacrifice.
Moses, as leader of the Israelites, set this pattern. Shortly after God delivered His people from the Egyptians and showed them He would provide miraculous food for them on their journey, and that, by defeating the Amelkites, He would defend them from enemies, Moses knew what to do.
Moses built an altar and called it, The Lord is my Banner.--Exodus 17:15
Moses first used his altar for sacrifice, for the slaughter of that which God desired. Then, afterward, he declared it his identifying banner. In doing this, Moses made public statement that everything from which he drew his strength originated with his sacrifice and obedience to God.
A banner not only identifies, it proclaims. It announces allegiance. When it is planted in a plot of ground, it declares victory. A banner identifies the source of strength.
Our strength comes from sacrifice, too. The altar is where we both acknowledge God and access His power. At the altar we acknowledge sin and the price necessary to expunge it. The altar, always fresh with Christ's blood, is where we meet God, always looking up from our knees.
Moses' ancient altar served a precursor to the cross, and as such, remains a declaration of both allegiance and victory. The altar and the cross irrevocably tie sacrifice to freedom and strength.
Moses' altar became his banner because it connected him to God. Our cross does the same, a banner meant to be carried before us with holy awe.