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Exodus 17:8-16 - Homilies By H. T. Robjohns

Christ our Banner.

"Jehovah-Nissi." Exodus 17:15 . Historical introduction: The Amalekites—their territory—reasons why they barred Israel's way.

1 . Fear.

2 . Religious animosity—incidents of the engagement—the two memorials, book and altar—judgment pronounced on Amalek, and why—the slow execution through the centuries, ending in the final blotting out of the nation. "The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations." Show further that the rod of Hoses was in reality the banner of Israel; the pole of a banner without drapery, affording a rallying-point for Israel's armies, a memorial of past achievement, a force therefore, a guide, an appeal to heaven, an earnest of victory. By that banner Israel conquered. But again, as with the water and the rock we ascended to the First Cause of all refreshments, so here we ascend beyond the rod-banner to the Real Cause and Giver of all victory, i.e; to Jehovah, i.e; to Christ.

I. ALL IN THE WILDERNESS MUST FIGHT .—In the moral wilderness there are only two great hosts Amalek and Israel, pilgrims going to the heavenly country, and children of the desert that withstand their way.

1 . Amalek cannot let Israel alone—if of the world we must fight—for there seems a certain constraint that will not permit us to leave the truth, Christ and God, without antagonism.

2 . Israel will fight—dutifully—and inspired thereto.

II. PILGRIM WARRIORS MAY BE TAKEN AT A DISADVANTAGE . See Deuteronomy 25:18 . The attack of Amalek was—

1 . Sudden .

2 . On an undefended rear .

3 . On the faint .

4 . On the demoralised by sin .

Trace the analogies in moral conflict.

III. OUR BANNER COMPENSATES FOR ALL DISADVANTAGE . Jehovah-Nissi—Christ our banner. See Isaiah 11:10-12 ; Romans 8:37 ; Revelation 12:11 ; Constantine's " In hoc signo ." The banner Christ:—

1 . Rallies to decision . Christ lifted up in the realms of thought, domestic life, business, social life, political life, men must take sides; must answer the question, What think ye of Christ? A Christ-side to every moral question. Reason why Christian men not always on the same side in reference to particular questions ( e.g ; abstinence) may be, because in actual conflict issues get confused. But wilful trimming not permissible. Nothing like the conduct of the Frenchman, who at the outbreak of the revolution wore both cockade and tricolour, one under one coat lappel, the other under the other. Rather should we be like Hedley Vicars, who, the morning after the great decision for God, unfurled his banner by laying an open Bible on his table for all his comrades to see.

2 . Is a memorial of victories achieved . It was so with the rod of Moses (go over instances). So is it with regimental ensigns, inscribed oft with glorious names, e.g. Salamanca, Vittoria, etc. Picture the shot-rent, tattered banners, hung under vaulted roof, for a memorial. So Christ—he shines before us in the light of ten thousand victories—on "his head many crowns." Recall the history of t he Church, public and more private, its confessors and martyrs.

3 . Is a force therefore ( Revelation 12:11 ). The moral power for a regiment in the possession of its colours; its demoralisation when lost. Christ seen in the host. Illustration: Castor and Pollux at the battle of Lake Regillus.

4 . Is direction in the fray . No man in a battle can see it, understand it. Leadership necessary by trumpet, by signal, by aide-de-camp, by banner. So was it here. Moses directed the battle by the standard in his hand. So Christ to every soldier-saint. We may not fight for our own hand, nor according to our own whims; but take direction from him.

5 . Is appeal for heavenly help . That banner-pole of Moses was not only for encouragement and lead to Israel, but also was an appeal to God for that aid which ensures victory. So, wherever Christ is, the intercessor is. O . Is earnest of victory. Christ is a force that cannot fail ( Romans 8:37 ).— R .

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