Raise a banner on a bare hilltop,
shout to them;
beckon to them
to enter the gates of the nobles. Isaiah 13:2
The idea of “raising a banner” is pretty foreign to us as post-modern people but common enough in ancient times. When ancient armies went to war, they would each have a banner (we might say “flag”) that would identify the troops – what kingdom they represented, whose side they were on. If you were supposed to charge, retreat, or make some other maneuver, a signal would be made visually with the banner.
Since the banner was the center of communication in the battle, it was also the center of management. The king or general leading the troops would often station himself under the banner. That way he would be able to give directions and communicated them to all his troops without having to send messages across the battlefield.
The result was that all the leader’s troops knew where he was. Which, of course, meant the enemy knew where he was also.
You get the picture, raising a banner was a risky proposition. Expect any charging infantry or cavalry to head straight at you. Expect any archer within range to send arrows your way. People get targeted under the banner.
You may have seen a tiny representation of that same experience trying to live as a Christian in the business world. After all, you already live in the midst of a battle. You may have been ridiculed when co-workers find out you’re a believer. You may have been excluded from some after hours events because others assumed your faith would make you lousy company.
But in our text for today the Lord tells Isaiah to lift His banner with confidence in the battle with the big, bad, Babylonian Empire. He goes on to promise that the battle will be His and that His victory will be so complete that it will shake Heaven and Earth.
Even so now. The Lord’s ultimate victory is secure. Trust our King, my friends. Raise His banner with confidence. We already know how this battle ends.