“And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi: For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have way with Amalek from generation to generation.”
A great world war!
The battle of the ages!
Not the battle that is waged among the nations, and fought with guns and tanks, with ships and planes, with bombs and death-dealing explosives! Though such warfare has marked the history of the world. Though war and rumors of warfare are always present with us; and, according to God’s prophetic Word, will continue to be with us to the end of the world. Such is not the warfare of which the text speaks!
Rather is it a spiritual battle!
The antithetical battle of darkness versus the light, of evil versus the good, of sin against righteousness, of the world against the church, of Belial against Christ, of Satan against God! A battle which began at the very dawn of history when man came under the spell of Satan, and fell from his high estate, rebelling against God. A battle which has continued ever since, and is perhaps its hottest today. A battle in which the children of God, the Church of Christ, are deeply involved. A battle which must be fought throughout this calendar year, and all other years the Lord ordains shall follow. A battle which Jehovah Himself wages from generation to generation against Amalek! In which He privileges us to have a part!
In this battle, as in every other battle, there is a rallying banner!
There is a cause around which men rally, be it good or evil, righteous or wicked, a principle, an objective, that moves men to fight together to gain a common victory. So in this battle of the ages there is such a banner under which we fight!
That is, Jehovah is my banner!
My standard is Jehovah!
A continual warfare!
From generation to generation!
The Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek!
The Lord against Amalek!
But who is Amalek? Was he of the generations of Esau? Esau, we read in Genesis 36, had two sons: Eliphaz the son of Adah his wife, and Reuel the son of Bashemath, another wife of Esau. And Eliphaz, Esau’s son, had a concubine Timna by name, who bore unto him Amalek. Thus Amalek was a grandson of Esau, Jacob’s brother. Or, was Amalek one who lived much earlier, at the time when Chedorlaomer and his armies came to fight against the cities of the plain, chiefly Sodom and Gormorrah, in the days of Abraham and Lot? Amalek, who is described by Balaam (Numbers 24:20) as the first of the nations? Or, are we to conceive of a combination of these two, as the adversary spoken of in the text? It is not impossible that the latter possibility is the correct one. And if this is so, you have a typical figure of the very nature of the Antichristian world-power of which Scripture often speaks, and which shall be revealed in the days of the personal Antichrist. His kingdom, too, shall be a combination of the carnal seed of the church (Esau) and the world!
At any rate, Amalek, according to the context, initiates an attack upon Israel at Rephidim. No doubt the Lord had put a fear in the heart of Amalek for the children of Israel. Israel’s deliverance under the mighty hand of Jehovah through the Red Sea had been quickly publicized throughout the land of Canaan, whither the children of Israel were to be brought. But before Israel had opportunity to invade Canaan, Amalek is moved to go out to meet Israel at Rephidim, near Horeb.
And you know the battle that ensued! Joshua was appointed to captain the Lord’s host and to fight Amalek. When Moses’ hands were raised, Israel prevailed; but when his hands were down, Amalek prevailed. And so Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands to the going down of the sun. And the Lord gave to Israel the victory over their opponent. Amalek was discomfited and put to flight!
And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. The Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation!
Type it is of the warfare that rages through out the ages!
The war between the world and the church!
Not to be conceived of as a tug of war! The outcome of which is in the balance! One moment the victory goes one way, and at another moment it swings to the other side! Nor is it so that the church is a mighty power that stands over against the world, another mighty power, in which combat the outcome is uncertain! Nor is it so that though the church wilt ultimately be victorious, she is to be conceived of as suffering tremendous losses in her battle against the mighty forces of the world! Such cannot be the meaning of the antithesis!
Rather, the church is of the thesis!
And God is the thesis!
He is light, and there is no darkness in Him whatever! He is the truth, and cannot lie! He is righteous, and there is no unrighteousness in Him! He is holy, and there is no corruption In Him! He is the sum total of infinite perfections, and there is nothing in Him to mar that perfection! He is fixed, established, set in the meridian of His own light Being! He is the thesis!
And the church is of the thesis! She is made to be light in the world! Unto her is given all the graces of Christ Jesus! And she is set by God in the very midst of the world to let her light shine! A glorious church which radiates the virtues of her Redeemer!
The antithesis is what opposes the thesis! While God is the thesis, and His people are of the thesis, He also wills the antithesis, in order that He may hate it, and use it as a background upon which to reveal His own glory! He is the God also of the antithesis! He creates light, but also the darkness! He makes peace, and creates evil! He raises up Pharaoh In order to reveal His power in him. He anoints Cyrus to be His servant to bring His ransomed people back to their own land! He makes Amalek, in order that He may carry on a warfare that goes on from generation to generation! The antithesis must serve the Thesis!
Yet the antithesis must offer opposition! It opposes the light, because it is darkness! It opposes the truth, because it is of the lie!
And so, because the church is of the Thesis, she is in continual warfare so long as she is in the world! Never can light and darkness agree! Always the church speaks the truth in the midst of the lie!
And nowhere does this battle become so intense as within the church itself! In the visible church comes to manifestation a carnal seed! That carnal element comes under the same influences as the spiritual seed. Intellectually they understand the truth. They have the same catechetical instruction, sit under the same preaching, witness and even participate in the same sacraments. But they love not the truth with all their hearts! They do not love God and His Christ. They hate His people, and persecute them! They love the world, the things of the world, the philosophy of the world; and very easily they join forces with the world.
Indeed, the church’s main controversy is not with the evils of the world, though she opposes all that is evil in the world! But her main controversy is within, against heretical doctrines and practices as evidenced in the carnal element. Sometimes this controversy is over apparently trivial matters! In the Arian controversy it was over a little letter (i) which spelled the difference between accepting or rejecting the doctrine of the divinity of Christ. And so it was with all the controversies since! Always it is the question respecting the truth: Is God God, or isn’t He? Is He sovereign, or isn’t He? Is the Bible His infallible Word of revelation, or isn’t it? Against these and many more of Satan’s lies the church is called to battle! And the battle is never finished! It goes on from generation to generation!
From generation to generation! Not only of the generations of the people of God, but also of the generations of the wicked! As the one develops, so does the other! Side by side they take their place throughout history; and in the end we shall see the highest possible development of both! The powers of evil that shall finally assail the church, shall be the highest possible development of man without God, the man of sin, whose number is 666. And with him the Lord shall do battle through His church, the great battle of Armageddon!
A rallying banner!
For this: continual battle, the Lord has given a rallying banner!
Symbol that unites the forces of light in a common cause!
Visible symbol representing an invisible reality. Such is the significance of a banner! Many banners there are in the world that serve the same purpose. The American flag, with its thirteen stripes and fifty stars, in red, white, and blue, is the symbol that unites the peoples of our country in a common cause. Each organization in the military has its own banner or insignia. The Roman soldier followed his standard bearer into battle. In the battle the soldier keeps his eye on the banner lest he stray from his command. So, all who belong together have a rallying point. And standing together under their banner, they realize their purpose!
Literally, Jehovah is my banner! Or, my banner is Jehovah! The altar of Moses was a visible symbol of the truth that Jehovah is He round Whom Israel rallied. A memorial to remind Israel that He was Israel’s God Who fought Israel’s battles. It was Jehovah, their Covenant God Who carried on the warfare with Amalek from generation to generation!
Our rallying banner is the Truth!
The truth that God is God! Absolute Sovereign is He! There is no God beside Him! The truth that Jehovah is the God of our salvation! Our Covenant God Who saves us from beginning to end! Unconditionally, without our aid, He saves us through Christ Jesus! Though He privileges us to stand in the battle, and to share in the victory, the battle is His and the victory is His! Of God Who showeth mercy!
Scripture and the Confessions!
Scripture as interpreted in our Confessions!
That is our banner!
The visible attestation of the truth! That is it with which God fights against Amalek! With it He arms us to fight against all the forces of evil! For us who are Protestant Reformed people that banner is the Word of God as expressed in the Three Forms of Unity and interpreted in the Declaration of Principles! This is the banner of Jehovah round which we rally today!
And rally we must!
Many today rally round a different banner! Not the truth, but the lie! Not the banner of Jehovah, but of Amalek!
Many today do not rally round any banner, and do not fight, or so they imagine! To them peace is sweeter, the peace of the cemetery! Controversy to them is a bad word! But in reality, they are under the banner of Amalek! There are really only two banners, that of Amalek, or that of Jehovah! In the spiritual battle you can only be under one banner or the other. If you are not under that of Jehovah, you are under that of Amalek!
By the grace of God we are under the banner of Jehovah!
Not to gain, you understand, the victory! We do not fight for victory, we have it!
But to taste the victory which we have through our Lord Jesus Christ! In Him we are more than conquerors, because in the battle we lose nothing, and our very opponents are our servants that must assist us to the crown! When Amalek shall have been completely vanquished, the Church Triumphant shall be glorified!
Round that Banner let us rally throughout this year of our Lord 1966!