The Standard Banner

The Greek word stauros means ‘stake’, ‘pole’ or ‘post’; but it is always  translated ‘cross’ in the New Testament. When a banner or image is attached to a pole, it becomes a standard. This is the imagery from the Old Testament that Yeshua uses to teach on His purpose.

And as Moses lifted up the (brass) serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:14, 15.

Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.  And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death He should die.                                                                       John 12:31-33.

The standard of Christ is a simple statement:

“Death to sin!”

They overcame by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives even in the face of death.                                                               Revelation 12:11.

You have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.                                           Hebrews 12:4.

Following the Standard

When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.                                            Mark 8:34.

This statement makes no sense until translating stauros correctly, and becomes ‘pulls up his stakes and follows me’. Now we find a statement familiar in all ages as an expression of someone leaving his permanent dwelling to follow the Lord. This has been The Standard from the origins of Messiah.

Now the Lord had said to Abram: Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.                                                          Genesis 12:1.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.  By faith he dwelt in the land of promise as a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise;  for he waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.                                                                  Hebrews 11:8-10.

The Heavenly Hope

But Yeshua said to him, “No one who has put his hand to the plow and looked back is fit for the kingdom of God.”                                                                                                             Luke 9:62.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland.  And truly if they had called to mind that from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly homeland. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.                                                                                                                               Hebrews 11:13-16.

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.                                                                                                                                    1 Peter 2:11

To abstain is only accomplished by abiding in the promised Holy Spirit.

Three testimonies from 1 John 3:

Whoever abides in Him does not sin. V.6.

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. V.9.

Now those who keep His commandments abide in Him, and He in them. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit He has given us. V.24.

The Standard of Christ is love

He has brought me to the banquet house and his banner ( ‘standard’) over me is love.    SS 2:4.

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers and sisters. The one who does not love abides in death.  By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.            1 John 3:14, 16.

To make the cross an icon of the church is to repeat what Israel did with the bronze serpent from the wilderness. It became an idol in Israel which was destroyed by Hezekiah hundreds of years later.

He removed the high places, and broke the images, and cut down the groves, and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan (that brass thing).                             2 Kings 18:4.

You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.                                                                             Exodus 20:4.

The Cross represents The Standard for Paul

For the message of ‘The Standard’ is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.                                                                                     1 Corinthians 1:18.

As for me, brothers and sisters, if I still proclaim circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case, the stumbling block of  ‘The Standard’ has been eliminated. Galatians 5:11.

Those wanting to look good outwardly are trying to force you to be circumcised—only so they will not be persecuted for ‘The Standard’ of Messiah.                                        Galatians 6:12.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in ‘The Standard’ of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.                                     Galatians 6:14.

He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, death now ‘The Standard’.      Philippians 2:8.

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of ‘The Standard’ of Christ.                                                                     Philippians 3:18.

The Standard for Life: Crucified with Christ

For if we have become joined together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also will be joined together in His resurrection,  knowing our old man was crucified with Him so that the sinful body might be done away with, so we no longer serve sin.  For he who has died is set free from sin.                                                                                                         Romans 6:5-7.

Now those who belong to Messiah have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:24.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.                                                                                                                           Galatians 2:20.

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.                                                                                       Romans 6:22.

Blessed and holy is he that has part in the first resurrection: on such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.                                                                                                                             Revelation 20:6.

The Standard Banner of Salvation

The Lord their God will save them in that day, as the flock of His people. For they shall be like the jewels of a crown, lifted like a banner over His land.                                   Zechariah 9:16

When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.                                                                                                                                        Isaiah 59:19.

You have given a banner to those who fear You, that it may be displayed for the truth. Psalm 60:4.

And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.                               Isaiah 11:10.

Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.                                         Isaiah 62:10.

Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders.                                                                                           Isaiah 49:22

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Waiting Is Enduring

Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart;  Wait, I say, on the Lord!  Psalm 27:14.

Wait on the Lord is a very familiar expression, used many times in the Old Testament Psalms and Prophets. But it does not seem to be used in the New Testament at all, or does it?

In the Septuagint, the Greek used to express waiting is hupomeno and is used 17 times in the New Testament to express enduring patiently. These passages inform us of the true meaning of “to wait on the Lord”.

And you will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end will be saved.  Mark 13:13.

And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. Matthew 24:13.

This is a very important teaching that Jesus shared with his disciples during his final instructions. Having taken this message to heart enabled them to endure the challenge of being the first apostles of the Gospel.

Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.                      2 Timothy 2:10.

If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?  Hebrews 12:7.

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised those who love Him.  James 1:12.

But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure, this is commendable before God.  1 Peter 2:20.

 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.                         1 Corinthians 13:7.

A Gentile Passover

The Lord gave Moses and Aaron further instructions in regard to strangers and servants desiring to keep the Passover, that all males must be circumcised. This is why circumcision was such a hot topic in the early church discussion in regards to expectations placed upon gentile believers.

And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.   Exodus 12:48.

Paul resolved the issue:  for he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.     Romans 2:28 & 29.

Note the clear symmetry between the two verses right up to “in the spirit and not in the letter”.  But then Paul adds this final clarification; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

When our heart is circumcised, we can say like Paul: 

For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.                                  Galatians 1:10.

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men but God, which tries our hearts.                   1 Thessalonians 2:4.

Some translations change this to “God, who tries our hearts.” Granted, He certainly does try us, but the point Paul is making is that the test of a circumcised heart is to put ourselves to this question, am I pleasing men or God.  This is the issue which tries our hearts.

Twice Paul makes an interesting statement in 1 Co 1:31 and 2 Co 10:17, “let them that glory, glory in the Lord.”  The statement suggests that he is quoting a verse from the Old Testament. In actuality, he is  paraphrasing a passage from the prophet Jeremiah. Paul is attempting to remind them of instructions he gave while he was with them. 

Paul’s stay in Corinth is chronicled in Acts 18.  He reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks…then he continued there for 18 months! “teaching the Word of God among them”.   v.11.   

So let’s look at the text from Jeremiah that Paul would have been teaching from to apply this paraphrase he uses “to glory in the Lord.”

Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty glory in his might, let not the rich glory in his riches: but let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.                     Jeremiah 9:23 & 24.

Now let’s jump back over to 1 Corinthians: for you see your calling brethren how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world and things which are despised God has chosen, yes and the things which are not to bring to naught things that are; that no flesh shall glory in His presence.                                                                                                        1 Corinthians 1:26-29.

Try to set aside the obvious inference that the church is made up of foolish, weak, base and despised members and hear the echo of Jeremiah 9 in this passage. So what was Paul teaching on by using Jeremiah 9 as his text?   Let’s continue through the final two verses:

Behold, the days come says the Lord, that I will punish all of them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.   Jeremiah 9:25&26.

In the time of Jeremiah, all the people of Israel had become blind to God’s Word.  Even as Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

For unto this day when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.         2  Corinthians 3:15-17.

The blindness of the uncircumcised heart is a paramount issue. For the Lord has set a day when the veil will be lifted from the hearts of Israel. This an opportunity to look at the first of the mysteries of God revealed in Christ that Paul speaks of:

Let a man so account of us as ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.                                               1 Corinthians 4:1&2

In order to be a faithful steward, a saint must know what these mysteries are of which Paul speaks.

For I would not brethren that you should be ignorant of this mystery, less you should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.                  Romans 11:25.

Blot Out A Remembrance

Then the Lord said to Moses, Write this for a memorial (zikrown) in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance (zeker) of Amalek from under heaven.                                                             Exodus 17:14.

While a memorial (zikrown) exists to help perpetuate a memory (zakar); a remembrance (zeker) refers to the effect the memory has on a person, or people. For example, the memorials of the Confederacy continue to be controversial in the South. Statues of Civil War heroes have been removed. The Confederate flag, the most visible memorial of that period, has been banned from flying over municipal and state buildings. This has been necessary, because the remembrances associated with them are polarizing to society. Ideally, memorials should unite the people in a society. For the Memorials found in the Torah, the purpose is to bind the people to God.

Notice the verse states that this memorial exists for the sake of Joshua. The incident with Amalek occurred shortly after passing through the Red Sea. So God intends to settle this issue later, by the hand of Joshua. This ultimately will not take place until much later.

Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God.  Therefore it shall be, when the Lord your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.                  Deuteronomy 25:17-19.

Now forty years later, Moses addresses the next generation on the steppes of Moab in preparation for entering the promised land. The older generation who came out of Egypt has all passed away. The text says “zakar Amalek”, and the translation implies that the people are being instructed to remember this incident. This would not be the case, for any part of the narrative of Exodus would have been a part of the narrative of stories told by the adults to the children they were raising. The stories involving Amalek were not just about a merciless attack, but also a rousing tale of Joshua and a group of valiant men who went out against them. They could not prevail unless Moses held his staff above them on the overlooking mountain. The correct translation, therefore, would be ‘you have been perpetuating the memory of Amalek’. With this story comes the concern over the remembrance of what the Amalekites did in attacking the weakest of the people. God is dealing with bitterness, hatred and the desire for vengeance.   This is the remembrance which must be blotted out. 

The avenging of blood is one of God’s priorities and the Law of Moses required the establishment of sanctuary cities for a man to flee to if he witnessed an accidental death. If he feared that he would be held accountable for the death by a family member; ‘the avenger of blood’ would seek to slay him.  (Deuteronomy 19, Joshua 29).

Vengeance is Mine, and recompense…Deuteronomy 32:35.

The avenging of blood has to be handled only in accordance with God’s instructions. Once the vengeance has been granted, the remembrance must be blotted out. The final word of the text in Deuteronomy 25:19 is ‘shalach’ and means ‘forgotten, to become oblivious to’, and yet the translator decides to translate into the exact 180 degree opposite, saying ‘Do not forget’!. Thus the instruction becomes, ‘do not ever let go of that bitterness, that hatred! No! That is not God’s Will for the heart of man, and especially His people. The instruction is shalach! Let it be forgotten!. Blot out the remembrance. This was not a plan for genocide, this was a plan for healing the hearts of man. This is God’s heart for man. Not vengeance.

The First Memorial

So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.     Exodus 12:14.

The first memorial found in the Law of Moses is to perpetuate the memory of the night The Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, while ‘passing over’ the houses of Israel having the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintel.

The intent and purpose of this memorial feast is given as an answer to a question anticipated from the children of the household.

And it shall be, when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ that you shall say, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice of the Lord, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He struck the Egyptians and delivered our households.’ So the people bowed their heads and worshiped.  Exodus 12:26&27.

In passing over the firstborn of man and beast among the people of Israel, a special relationship was established between the Lord and the firstborn, and the consideration of this fact carries over to the feast of unleavened bread.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine. 

And it shall be, when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your fathers, and gives it to you, that you shall set apart to the Lord all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the Lord’s.              Exodus 13:1, 12,13.

Thus, the firstborn males who open the womb became the purchased possession of the Lord. This also was established as a memorial for every generation.  The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are linked for this purpose, to perpetuate this memory. 

And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came up from Egypt.  It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt.  You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.  Exodus 13:8-10.

Many consider the observance of the Passover to commemorate the children of Israel coming out from Egypt and the deliverance from the bondage of slavery. This is actually given as the basis for keeping the Sabbath.

Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you.  And remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.   Deuteronomy 5:12-15.

The feasts include special Sabbath Days for this observance. This makes the following exchange between Jesus Christ and the Jewish citizens of Jerusalem all the more fascinating.

The Truth Shall Make You Free

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?  Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you,whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.   John 8:31-36.

The intended memory to perpetuate in the keeping of the Sabbath failed to produce the desired remembrance!

A Spirit made Willing

And they came, every one whose heart stirred him up, and every one whom his spirit made willing, and they brought the LORD’S offering to the work of the tabernacle of the congregation, and for all his service, and for the holy garments.                  Exodus 35:21.

The children of Israel brought a willing offering unto the LORD, every man and woman, whose heart made them willing to bring for all manner of work, which the LORD had commanded to be made by the hand of Moses.                                                 Exodus 35:29.

Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.                           1 Chronicles 29:9.

When the Holy Spirit fell on the day of Pentecost, a miracle occurred which had happened only briefly in the lives of God’s people in the past. The disciples numbered approximately 120 in the upper room that day. Immediately after they received the gift of the Holy Spirit corporately, there were added about 3,000 souls! Even more impressive than the numbers though, was the immediate change of heart.

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all, as every man had need.                                 Acts 2:44,45.

And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.                                               Acts 4:32.

So we see the need of God’s Spirit to move for people to have a willing heart; to build the tabernacle in the wilderness, to prepare for Solomon to build a Temple, and for the saints to build a New House for God in the body of Christ.

In these last days, will our hearts be willing when God pours out His Spirit?

Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.                                  Psalm 110:3.

 

The Word of Our Testimony

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not be afraid or worry about their threats. Instead sanctify Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks you a reason(logos) for the hope that is in you,  yet with humility and reverence—keeping a clear conscience so that, whatever you are accused of, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Messiah may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good (if it is God’s will) than for doing evil.                          1 Peter 3:13-17.

We are instructed in this passage to “always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks for a reason(logos) for the hope that is in you”.  This verse gives an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the Greek: logos. Over 65% of the time , logos is simply and banally translated word,  giving us the vaguest notion of the meaning that is being conveyed. We have an expression in English to convey the point of getting to the heart of the matter for clarity in conveying the truth. We say that for “all intents and purposes”, something to be true. The Logos of God conveys in a very pure sense His intent and purpose behind His creation. This is why the Son of God is described by John as “The Word”, The Logos. Because of this fact, Jesus can say of Himself:
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Revelation 22:13.

The Truth that the Son of God is His Logos is fully expressed for “all intents and purposes” in this one verse:

“You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”       Revelation 4:11.

Consider now another example where logos is used, but simply translating as “word” failed to convey enough information, so another choice of words is utilized.

The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen.              Acts 1:1&2.

Here Luke opens his second book by referring to his first book, which we call the Gospel of Luke, as the former account(logos). He refers to his first book as a logos, in which he describes his “intents and purposes”in the opening verses.

Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus(lover and beloved of God), that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.               Luke 1:1-4.

So we see Luke describe his logos as a narrative “set in order” from first to last to convey a “perfect understanding”. This “orderly account” is to insure the certainty of the things that we are instructed and hold fast to in faith.

Now returning to our primary text, if we are to give “our logos for the hope that is in us”, we must establish ourselves firmly in the context of an orderly account based on a perfect (mature) understanding of the word and work of God in our life.

We are to be judged by what is found of us in “the Lambs Book of Life”. Will there be a full account found there, or will we be just a footnote in someone else’s logos. This is exactly what we are being called to do with our life as a narrative of the Work of His Spirit. This is the correct understanding of the statement: “we overcome by the word(logos) of our testimony.
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word(logos) of their testimony, and they did not love their lives even in the face of death.                      Revelation 12:11.