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B'Midbar/Numbers 2:2 each man by his banner, in the signs of the house of their fathers
Rashi tells us that "every division shall have for itself a sign, a coloured sheet of cloth, hanging in it ... each of a different colour ... like the colour of his stone on the breastplate of the Cohen Gadol ... so that each individual will recognise his division." Any individual could therefore find his way about the camp - a huge area, as it enclosed several million adults, children and animals, at least the size of a good-sized town - by seeing the signs hung up to demarcate the different tribal, clan and familial groupings. At times of trouble, each tribe would gather around their banner to meet or stand ready to act together as a group.
In our first armed clash in the Exodus from Egypt, at Rephidim, our people fought a battle against Amalek. Aharon and Hur had to hold Moshe's hands up in the air as a banner over the people until sunset and the people had defeated Amalek; so "Moshe built an altar, and named it 'The L-rd is My Banner'" (Shemot 17:15, NASB) because the L-rd was a sign, a focus, a rallying point and inspiration for the people. Writing in the Psalms, David said, "You have given a banner to those who fear You, that it may be displayed because of Your truth" (Psalm 60:4, NASB). Like the Royal Standard of England - an enormous flag - flown over Windsor Castle or Buckingham Palace when the Queen is in residence, G-d has given His people a banner, to be seen by all, to show that His presence is with, dwells among, them.
Every time the Shemoneh Esrei is recited, at each prayer service in the day, we say, "Sound the great shofar to herald our freedom; raise high the banner to gather our exiles. Gather our dispersed from the ends of the earth" (Siddur Sim Shalom) reflecting two texts from the prophet Isaiah: "On that day a great shofar will sound. Those lost in the land of Ashur will come, also those scattered throughout the land of Egypt; and they will worship Adonai on the holy mountain in Jerusalem" (Isaiah 27:13, CJB) and "And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth" (Isaiah 11:12, KJV). The latter, of course, is part of the great prophecy of the Messiah starting at the beginning of the chapter with the Rod that comes from the stem of Yishai, the Branch.
We see that re-gathering taking place before our eyes - as it has been for the last sixty years - G-d slowly gathering His people, our people, back to the Land of Israel, At the same time, more and more Jewish people are coming to know and recognise Yeshua as the Messiah of Israel, so that there are now more followers of Yeshua in the Land than at any time in history since the first century CE. At still the same time, huge numbers from the nations are discovering that Yeshua is their Messiah too, especially in the non-Europeanised world: Africa, Asia, South America. G-d is surely doing a great work in these days, establishing His Son as a banner for our people and for all the nations.
Further Study: Ezekiel 37:15-28; Matthew 24:27-31
Application: Sometimes we get so caught up in the detail of our daily lives that we miss the huge moves that are taking place on the world stage. Today would be a good day to step back from the coal-face and take a good look at just how much G-d is doing in our day!
© Jonathan Allen, 2006
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