Flags of our Fathers
Isaiah teaches us that God is sovereign. He rules not only over the nation of Israel, but over the nations of the world. In chapters 13-23, God reveals a series of oracles against the pagan nations that surround Israel. In chapter thirteen, God is about to call out an army to do his bidding. He is able to call any army He desires, to accomplish any task He assigns. He can summon them with a whistle (7:18), or—as in this case—by using leaders to raise a banner, shout, and beckon to the soldiers (13:2). In this case, God is mustering the army of the Medes (v. 17; 21:2); and He calls them “My sanctified ones.” Even though they did not believe in Jehovah God, the Medes were set apart by God to do His holy work. This is the historical setting of the passage.
But one of the unique features about the Scriptures is that in some places we find little nuggets of revelation that can take us in a whole different direction than the historical meaning of the text and point us to higher spiritual truths. This is one of those verses.
In 2006 Clint Eastwood released a move, the title of which, caught my attention. It was called “Flags of our Fathers”. It was based on the true (and relatively unknown) story of six regular soldiers that raised the flag atop Mount Suribachi during the battle for Iwo Jima. An American war photographer, Joe Rosenthal, captured the flag just as it was going up. It became the most famous picture of WWII, and came to represent the ultimate victory of America over Japan. Flags of our Fathers follows the lives of three surviving members who raised the flag, and how the government used them in an effort to sell war bonds to the American public. It was a difficult film in some ways, but a wonderfully patriotic film in many ways.
I love this country and our flag and for what it stands for.
Our Text: Isaiah 13:2 Say's, “Raise a banner on a bare hilltop, shout to them; beckon to them to enter the gates of the nobles.”
Banners, ensigns, and flags were important means of communication among peoples for thousands of years. For some background information please turn to Numbers 2:2 “The people of Israel shall camp each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ houses. They shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side.” In this chapter, we find God's orders for Israel. There were to have an orderly encampment where they rested and a orderly march when they moved.
Every tribe had its standard, flag or banner, and ensign. After studying the scripture it would seem that every Israelite family had some particular ensign or banner that represented their clan and their family, and distinguished them from other tribes. There were to set these standards as boundaries of their tribes, their clans, and their families.
So what’s the point of all this?
I. THE BELIEVER'S CALLENGE IS TO RAISE UP THE FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS
- now what does this mean preacher?
- there are banners that we must raise up
A. FIRST OF ALL WE MUST RAISE UP A BANNER OF DECLARATION
- to identify our position
- let me tell you what our banner, our standard, our mark of identification is for us today
- the Lord Is Our Banner
- “In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:10, NIV)
- “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, NIV)
- we must never be ashamed to identify who we belong to
- “We will shout for joy when you are victorious and will lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the LORD grant all your requests.” (Psalm 20:5, NIV)
- “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.” (Luke 9:25–26, NIV)
- “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16, NIV)
B. SECOND, WE MUST RAISE UP A BANNER OF RECRUITMENT
- one day as Jesus walked by the sea of Galilee He saw two men fishing: Peter and Andrew—and He said unto them " ... Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men," (Mark 1:17, KJV)
- soul winners are made not born!
- one of the most important ensigns that Baptists have flown throughout our history is the Banner of the Great Commission
- “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20, NIV)
- we must seek them
- “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14, NIV)
- 1st, "How shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?"
- the answer is the lost cannot call on the Lord to be saved until they believe in their heart...
- That Christ died for there sins according to the scriptures,
- And that He was buried,
- And that He rose again the third day
- the answer is, the lost cannot believe in Him until they hear the good news of salvation
- the answer is they cannot
C. THIRD, WE MUST RAISE UP A BANNER OF WARFARE
- now maybe you didn't realize it when you came to Christ, but you enlisted in an army - The Army of God
- and you and I have been called to the front lines
- we are caught up in spiritual warfare
- ILLUS. Unlike the soldiers who are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, we don't hear bombs bursting in the distance, or hear bullets zinging past us. We don't see bayonets of our enemy flashing in the sun.
- and Satan takes aim at us as a body of believers and as individuals
- he knows where we are weak, and he uses his knowledge to his advantage
- he sets spiritual IEDs to trap and snare for us, to trip us up and to destroy our spiritual effectiveness
- God Himself leads us into battle
- “The LORD thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty are those who obey his command. The day of the LORD is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it?” (Joel 2:11, NIV)
- “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4, NIV)
- ILLUS. I remember watching the movie Glory a few years ago. It’s a movie based on the 54th Massachusetts Regiment composed of all black soldiers. At the close of the movie the regiment is about to attack an enemy strong point. At the head of the attack will be the Regiment’s color-bearer who will carry the American flag into battle. Colonel Shaw, the Regiment’s leader is encouraging his men. Then he asks the question as he points to the color-bearer, “If this man should fall, who will pick up the flag and bear the colors?”
- in the military, it’s an honorable task to bear the colors of one’s regiment
- as Christians, we must be willing and ready to bear "The Banner Of The Cross"
- ILLUS. In the latter half of the 19th century, Daniel W. Whittle wrote a hymn by that title. Stanza 1: There’s a royal banner given for display To the soldiers of the King; As an ensign fair we lift it up today, While as ransomed ones we sing. Stanza 2: Though the foe may rage and gather as the flood, Let the standard be displayed; And beneath its folds, as soldiers of the Lord, For the truth be not dismayed! Stanza 3: When the glory dawns—’tis drawing very near, It is hastening day by day—Then before our King the foe shall disappear, And the cross the world shall sway! Refrain: Marching on, marching on, For Christ count everything but loss! And to crown Him King, we’ll toil and sing, ’Neath the banner of the cross!
D. FOURTH, WE MUST RAISE UP A BANNER OF VICTORY
- “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57, NIV)
- "for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4, NIV)
- the one thing that man needs above all else is victory over the world with all its corruption and death
- how then can you triumph and conquer the world, the flesh, and the devil?
- by believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God
- when a person believes upon the risen Lord, God gives him a new heart
- he is "born of God"-spiritually born of God
- it is his faith that overcomes the world
- in 1 Cor. 15:57 Paul the apostle is giving testimony to the church at Corinth that in Christ there is victory
- that does not mean that the name of Jesus is some kind of magical name or formula
- victory comes by receiving
- it means that God gives the believer victory over all the trials and temptations of life through the person of Christ who dwells in us
- "There hath no temptation [trial] taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13, NIV)
- "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:35, 37-39, NIV)
- "Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace" (Romans 6:11-14, NIV)
- "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24, NIV)
- "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Eph. 6:11-13, NIV)
II. OUR BANNERS MUST MOVE US TO ACTION
- ILLUS. A. W. Tozer once said, "I'm afraid we modern Christians are long on talk and short on conduct. We use the language of power but our deeds are the deeds of weakness. We settle for words in religion because deeds are to costly. It is easier to pray, "Lord, help me to carry my cross daily" than to pick it up and carry it; but since the mere request is for help to do something we do not actually intend to do unless it has a certain degree of religious comfort, we are content with repetition of the words."
- We Say We Believe In Hell, But Has It Moved Us To Action?
- We Say We Believe Christ Is Coming Soon, But Has It Moved Us To Action?
- We Say We Believe Judgment Is Coming, But Has It Moved Us To Action?
- the Apostle Paul was moved to action
- “And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:22–24, AV)
- in this passage, we find a man who was not satisfied to just live
- what Paul is saying to us, "I don't care if they criticize me, beat me, lock me up in jail, stone me or even kill me. I want to be an all-out dedicated Christian. I want to finish my course!”
- Paul Was Not Ashamed Of The Gospel
Thank God for a man who was not lukewarm, halfhearted, or casual with Gods business! He was willing to raise some banners no matter what would be the consequences would be! It is time to Raise Our banners.