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The Lord Is My Banner

Key References: Exodus 17:8-16; Patriarchs and Prophets, chap. 26, pp. 298-300; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 2, pp. 146-150; Our Beliefs nos. 11, 22, 12

Power Text

“May we shout for joy over your victory and lift up our banners in the name of our God. May the Lord grant all your requests” (Psalm 20:5).

Power Point

We worship God by giving thanks for the victories in our lives.

When was the last time anyone tried to pick on you for no reason? Have you ever seen a bully picking on someone just because they were weaker? When has anyone made fun of you because you love and serve God?

The Israelites were still camped at Rephidim. Throughout their journey in the desert they had witnessed a series of miracles—signs of God’s protection and care for them. God had parted the sea for them. The quail had settled in their camp to provide them with supper. The manna had started appearing every morning—double on Friday. God had provided water from a rock. Still they asked, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:7).

not?” (Exodus 17:7). Their latest challenge was an attack by their fierce desert cousins, the Amalekites. These warlike descendants of Esau enjoyed raiding and killing anyone who wandered near them. One morning Moses summoned Joshua, one of the young Israelite generals: “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands” (verse 9).

Joshua left, trustingly, and went to collect the men he would take with him to fight the Amalekites the next day.

As the sun began to brighten the desert, Joshua and his men were ready for the expected Amalekite raid. Joshua looked up at the hill that overlooked the valley where they waited. He could see Moses; Moses’ brother, Aaron; and Hur reaching the top of the hill. He watched as Moses lifted his arms in prayer to God. Joshua smiled confidently. With Moses on the hilltop, he felt that he was connected with God and that he and his men would be victorious. The fighting began.

From time to time Joshua would glance toward the hilltop where Moses stood. The fighting went on steadily. Joshua’s Israelite forces seemed to be making steady progress in driving the Amalekites back. After a while, however, Moses seemed to be getting tired. Joshua couldn’t help noticing that every time Moses lowered his arms to rest, the Amalekites would push the Israelites back toward their camp. It seemed as if they were getting the upper hand again.

Moses could see the ebb and flow of the battle below. He pointed out to Aaron that when he lowered his arms to rest them, the Amalekites began to win the battle.

Aaron and Hur quickly saw what Moses was talking about. Aaron immediately formulated a plan. He spotted a boulder. Aaron and Hur pushed it over for Moses to sit on. Then they each held up one of Moses’ arms. The two men took a place on either side of the leader, supporting his arms in supplication and honor to God.

Sure enough, the battle started to go in favor of the Israelites. Joshua’s men regained their advantage in pushing back the Amalekites. The three leaders on the hill remained in that position until the desert darkness approached. By that time Joshua had completely defeated the Amalekites, as God had commanded.

That night there was much rejoicing in the camp. As Moses had stood with his arms raised in worship, the people had seen that the Lord truly was a banner over them. Sometimes they tended to take His daily cloud presence and His daily manna supply for granted.

God told Moses, His faithful servant, “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” (verse 14). Moses began to write. Suddenly his arms were not so weary. After he read the words to Joshua, he put the scroll away with the jar of manna. These things would always be nearby to remind the people, who forgot so easily, what God had done for them.

That night also, Moses built an altar and called it “The Lord is my Banner” (verse 15). All the camp worshipped God together. Once again He had defeated their enemies and taken care of them. As long as they stayed in worshipful connection with Him, as Moses had stayed all day with his arms raised, God would defeat whatever danger or enemy was threatening to defeat them. Humbly each family thanked God for the victory.