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Seeds of the Kingdom

Banners

by Richard Griffiths

21 December 2018

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“Who is this, arising like the dawn, as fair as the moon, as bright as the sun, as majestic as an army with billowing banners?”
Song of Songs 6:10, NLT

Who, indeed? Well, in the Song of Songs it’s the young woman, the beloved, the Shulamite, the bride. There’s something very similar in Revelation 12:1: ‘I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head’. This is God’s people. Throughout Scripture, God is portrayed as the Husband of His Bride, His people. And here, in the Song of Songs, the Shulamite represents the people of God. Not only is she beautiful and full of splendour; she is ‘as majestic as an army with banners’.

When the Israelites were travelling through the desert on their way to the Promised Land, every time they set up camp at a new place, each family erected a distinctive banner over their particular patch. Maybe you’ve camped at a rather large and crowded camp-site. So many tents! It’s not always easy to find yours. But in Israel’s enormous camp-sites, you couldn’t really get lost, because your family banner was there, and you knew what it looked like: “That’s where I live”.

So, what’s distinctive about the banner under which God’s family, the Church, lives – the ‘billowing banners’ that give God’s people their glory and their ‘majestic’ appearance? The Song of Songs has another very well-known verse that speaks of a banner: ‘Let him lead me to the banquet hall and let his banner over me be love’ (Song of Songs 2:4). The Bridegroom’s love – this is the banner under which we find our home. This is the place of security and peace. This is where we belong.

But, when we’re under His banner, we’re also in the place of victory. We’re part of His ‘army with billowing banners’. Psalm 60:4 says, ‘For those who fear You, You have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow’.

Each day – every moment – we have a choice: to live under God’s banner of love, or to go our own way. Sometimes, when we’ve wandered away a bit and are, perhaps, feeling a bit lost, and rather sheepish about coming back. “Will He really want me?” But, you see, His banner is emblazoned with ‘LOVE’. And love ‘keeps no record of wrongs’ (1 Corinthians 13:5). That’s what God’s forgiveness is like. He chooses not to remember that I wandered away, or even why I did so. He’s just so glad to welcome me back to the shelter of His banner of love, security and victory over the enemy.

Prayer: Father, thank You that when I walk with You, I’m in a place of safety under the banner of Your love. Today, I choose to place myself under Your covering and protection. Would You increase my love for You, as I experience more of Your love for me. Amen.

Richard Griffiths When Richard retired from full-time Anglican ministry in Chichester in 2009, he and his wife, Sue, moved to Northumberland. He joined the ministry team at Ellel Grange in 2011, where he and Sue regularly ministered at healing retreats. They are now helping on the "Explore" team. They greatly enjoy walking their Golden Retriever dog in the beautiful Northumberland countryside and along the coast. Richard loves seeing God bringing people into a strong personal relationship with Him as their Father and the healing that comes with it.

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