CALLED TO BE HIS ENSIGN (by permission; chp 12 from Ray Prinzings Book - Whispers of His Call)
"So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard (ENSIGN) against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord." [Isaiah 59:19-20].
One thing is certain, as the Spirit illumines the Scriptures,
and that is-- Christianity is not a message of "dualism." There are
not two forces in eternal conflict with each other, God, and the Devil. The
sovereignty of God shines forth like a steady beacon, and He is ever-- at all
times-- in total control of His universe. Satan is subservient to His will,
and only permitted to do according as to how that negative action is a part
of God's great purpose being wrought out through the ages. So whenever the enemy
comes in like a flood, God always has a standard prepared to raise against him,
working the checks and balances, in His interplay of good and evil. Clearly
it is written, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise Thee; the remainder
of wrath shalt Thou restrain." [Psalm 76:10]. Whatever God does not purpose
to use, and work into good, He simply restrains-- both in His dealings with
man, and certainly also in His control of all principalities and powers of the
That there is an "enemy" we would not deny, for this the Scripture clearly bears out, but what we do deny is that this enemy is the omnipotent, omnipresent being that some appear to teach. The Hebrew word "enemy" that is used here, is "tsar" and means: an adversary, a distresser, a straitener. Oftentimes God has used Satan, as in the case of Job, to be the adversary that distresses and hems in until one is in an exceedingly strait place, but such glorious purposes are worked out during those times of adversity. Also, God always has that HELP prepared-- that positive reinforcement which He is able to supply to maintain the balance. So great is our God!
Christendom has been, for the most part, so very negative-minded, that they over-emphasize the evil, the doom, the despair, that they almost forget there is a LIGHT that shines in darkness, "and the darkness comprehended it not," [John 1:4], i.e. the darkness was not able to overcome the light, but had to give way to its positive inflow. Triumphant is the proclamation that "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." [Romans 5:20]. Furthermore, "Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world." [1 John 4:4]. Therefore regardless of the foes that beset us, we need not fear, GOD is FOR US, and there is nought that can be against us and win-- God alone is the winner!
Not only are many people far too negative minded, we might also add that they are very small-minded, so that the indictment still stands, they "have limited the Holy One of Israel." [Psalm 78:41].
The statement has been made which zeroes in on the subject, "Unbelief is the darkroom wherein we develop our negatives." That quite describes why Christendom so actively programs people to be negative-- because the vast majority do not BELIEVE. Like Israel of old, "they could not enter in because of unbelief" [Hebrews 3:19].
So the challenge is before us, which will we focus our attention upon? Will we glorify and emphasize the night, the darkness, the evil around us, or will we declare the truth of the light, and the triumph of Christ?
Certainly, if we believe Romans 8:28, we could never be a pessimist, for we would "Know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." Praise His name!
"With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." [Romans 10:10]. The sequence is most properly given. There is no use for the confession-- multitude of words-- If FIRST the heart has not already BELIEVED. "Faith is the substance (Greek, the substratum, undergirding) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." [Hebrews 11:1]. Without this inner pre-requisite of BELIEVING, all of the outward confession becomes meaningless. "This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoreth Me with their lips,. but their heart is far from Me." [Matthew 15:8]. Thus their heart betrayed their confession.
So Paul writes, "We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak." [2 Corinthians 4:13]. When we truly believe it, then we can proceed with our confession which strengthens our commitment to what we believe, and we stand firm while we wait for God to work it all out in His time and way.
"So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun." We pause for a moment to note the word "fear." It is not speaking of a slavish fear, nor a superstitious fear, both which are very negative in their connotation, but the Hebrew word means: TO GIVE REVERENCE, to hold in awe and respect. The more we behold the handiwork of God, and the out-working of the triumph of Calvary, the more we will bow low to worship before Him. Every time it seems that the enemy has swept in upon us, and then God has raised up His standard-- bringing forth His victory, it causes us to reverence Him all the more. Every demonstration of His power in our behalf only causes Him to be that much more magnified in our eyes. How great is our God, and truly greatly to be praised!
"When the enemy shall come in like a flood." Significant to note that the Hebrew word which is translated here as "flood" is literally a word that means: A RIVER. it does not necessarily speak of a great deluge, a huge wall of water washing down upon us, though perhaps betimes it does seem like "all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me." [Psalm 42:7]. But a river also bespeaks of that which seeks out the lowest level, and then winds its way through, seeping into every avenue of our society. Much more subtle, much more deceptive -- easing its way through on the lowest level possible.
When "your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:" [1 Peter 5:8], you are more apt to recognize the danger, and be on guard. But when he comes by your way "transformed into an angel of light," [2 Corinthians 11:14], then do we really have to be alert, discern by the Spirit of Christ within, so that we are not deceived by him. Nevertheless, always, God is able to keep us from being snared!
There is a double caution needed, however, when we think in terms of the adversary coming in like a river-- winding its way through all the lower levels, the natural, the bestial part of our nature, filtering its way through the carnal mind, till it gains its foothold, then when the volume of temptation is increased to a flood stage, it becomes almost overwhelming. Nevertheless, when we keep our heart and mind stedfast upon the Lord, we do find that "THE LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the Lord sitteth King forever. The Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless His people with peace." [Psalm 29:10-11]. He does CONTROL ALL, He is KING over all, and He does raise up a standard against the adversary, saying, "Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall they proud waves be stayed." [Job 38:11]. Praise God!
"And this shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men. -- And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the nations in the midst of many people as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass." [Micah 5:5,7].
Truly "the Lord will give strength unto His people; the Lord will bless his people with peace," "AND THIS SHALL BE THE PEACE," when the enemy shall come in like a flood -- the LORD shall raise up against him a standard, even "seven shepherds, and eight principal men."
Seven is the number of perfection and completeness. While a shepherd is one who guides and feeds the flock, A SERVANT TO THE FLOCK. This, in a great contradistinction to those who are but hirelings. "He that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth..." [John 10:12]. Being far more interested in his own selfish welfare, rather than laying down his life for the sheep, these will "fleece" the sheep, take from them for their own personal gain, and then abandon the sheep when the adversary comes upon them.
Seven shepherds bespeaks of shepherds brought into HIS PERFECTION, to be even as "The Son, who is consecrated (Greek, perfected) for ever more." [Hebrews 7:28]. It is a ministry of love and compassion, truly giving forth of His life to others. Even as He hath promised, "I will give you pastors according to Mine own heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." [Jeremiah 3:15]. For shepherds are called to "FEED the flock," [1 Peter 5:2], not to lord it over them, but as HIS SERVANTS to freely minister of His blessings to all men.
Furthermore, He said He would raise up "eight principal men." Eight is the number of new beginning, of resurrection. While the Hebrew word that is used here for "principal" actually means: anointed. Thus the combined meaning for this phrase could be paraphrased as, "I will raise up anointed men filled with resurrection life." This will be HIS STANDARD, HIS ENSIGN against the enemy. This shall be the PEACE. For they will be filled with HIS PEACE, and will bring peace to mankind. A company anointed with resurrection life to institute anew beginning-- the establishment of HIS KINGDOM.
"He that overcometh, and keepeth My words unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule (Greek, SHEPHERD) them with a rod of iron." [Revelation 2:26-27]. No wonder we have this CALL TO OVERCOMING! For these are the ones that shall become apart of His Ensign that will shepherd the nations, and be the counter-balance to "the adversary.
GOD shall lift up His Standard! We note that the Hebrew word for "standard" has also been translated as ENSIGN, from the word "nus, nes, or nas" and it literally means: to cause to flee by the raising up of the ensign. Here it is necessary to go back into ancient warfare to understand the meaning of all this symbolism. When the armies went forth to battle they had with them their own tribal BANNERS, FLAGS, ENSIGN, STANDARD. It was a token of their confidence and pride. As the men moved forward, whether marching or riding horses, they boldly advanced with their ensign held high. There were those times that the weaker army, beholding these advancing banners, were immediately intimidated, and they would begin to flee. At other times, if they felt strong enough, they would also advance until there was a clash in battle. After that intense surge of battle, when everything became somewhat scattered and fragmented, the captain would raise high the banner and signal for a regrouping around the flag. The re-assembling of the scattered meant there would be anew united thrust made against the enemy. Often this would likewise so frighten the enemy that it would cause them to flee, especially if their own banner was brought down, and they had no point to rally. Thus the word "nes" which is translated as AN ENSIGN, literally means: to cause to flee.
Once the Psalmist poured out his soul in prayer, Lord, "Thine enemies roar in the midst of Thy congregations; they set up their ensigns for signs. -- They said in their hearts, Let us destroy them together: they have burned up all the synagogues of God in the land. WE SEE NOT OUR SIGNS: There is no more any prophet: neither is there among us any that knoweth how long. O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme Thy name for ever?" [Psalm 74:4, 8-10].
The enemies have their ensign, WHERE IS OURS? Praise God, He has promised that when the adversary comes in like a flood, He will raise up an ENSIGN against him. Surely God is NOW calling out those who will become that BANNER-- that standard of His righteousness before the world! BEHIND THE STANDARD IS THE MIGHTY POWER OF GOD! He upholdeth His elect. In His name shall they go forth in victory!
How often, when God has separated, scattered, isolated His elect for a time of deep, intense, personal processing, have we wondered if there would ever be a re-grouping, a coming together in new might and power, which would turn the tide, defeat the adversary, and establish His victory in the earth. We have experienced in our own lives these various turning points of victory. But on a national scope, in the greater dispensational working of God, we often cry out, "How long, O Lord, how long?" Yet let it ever be as a strong consolation to every set apart individual, called out by God for the new creation order-- there will be that hour when HE SHALL RAISE UP THIS ENSIGN WHICH HE HAS PREPARED, and it will signal the nations that the hour has come. That which creation has long waited to see will be manifested-- a people in whom His LIFE and POWER will be seen-- conquering and to conquer!
In his prophecy concerning the downfall of Assyria, we read, "they shall be as when a standard-bearer fainteth." [Isaiah 10:18]. How demoralizing it is to the army, yea, the nation, when the ENSIGN falls down, when the banner is lowered and there is no point around which to rally, everything will come to a dismal end. Men weep when the standard-bearer faints, for all their hopes of victory are dashed away. Where is the strong one to lead us into battle? Where is the sign of our triumphant army? That fear shall grip the enemy, and they shall flee before the mighty power of our God. For while the enemy's standard is being brought low, GOD IS RAISING UP HIS STANDARD, and the shout of His victory is in the camp of the Lord.
Thus, reading on in Isaiah 10, verse 27, "And the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing." Individually, it is the anointing of HIS SPIRIT which breaks the yoke of the negatives in our life. HE is the CHIEF ENSIGN, and His name is called Jehovah-nissi, meaning: THE LORD MY BANNER. When we are sent forth to battle, HE goes before us, and His victory becomes our victory. Then the vision enlarges-- He is raising up HIS ANOINTED ONES to become the banner in the earth-- and they, in turn, shall break the yoke of bondage that is placed upon all people. New freedom, the liberty of the Spirit, the joy of the Lord, the peace of our God, the righteousness of the Lord-- all of this shall be expressed in the earth by reason of this ENSIGN.
Again we read that "Shiloh shall come, and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." [Genesis 49:10]. Again we find that the view is two-fold. Young's Concordance gives the meaning for "Shiloh" as: the SEED. And while this first and foremost refers to our Lord Jesus Christ as THE SEED, it also bespeaks of the whole anointed body of which He is the Head, being the Firstborn of many brethren. And to this SEED, Christ, and His body, shall come the gathering of the people -- to receive the blessings of this new creation life and kingdom.
Jesus said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me." [John 12:32]. It is true, this does speak of His death, His being lifted up upon the Cross. And it is through this great act of love that we see how He is drawing all men unto Himself. Calvary's triumph shall reach all men. But there is more than just this lifting up at His death. The Greek word is "hupsoo" meaning: to exalt, elevate, set on high. Truly there will be an EXALTATION of HIS LORDSHIP-- that He is King of kings and Lord of lords. The more He is lifted up, exalted in His total, sovereign Lordship, the more men shall be drawn unto Him. Indeed, until He is acknowledged as LORD in, and of our life, we have not fully lifted Him up.
It takes more than preaching and teaching to lift Him up, though this certainly has its place, and the message shall go forth in clarity that HE IS LORD. But it requires that the message and the messenger become one, so that His ENSIGN-PEOPLE are a living manifestation of His righteousness, and this shall exalt Him. It will point men to Him! Not to those who have become, but to the One that has wrought such a work of grace within them.
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and HE SHALL LIFT YOU UP" [James 4:10]. There are a people whom HE is lifting up-- saying, "that where I am, there ye may be also." [John 14:3]. It is not a self-promotion, nor some self-realization process, it is the in working of God in those in whom His cross has effectually worked a death to the old "I" that His life might be the fullness that filleth all in all. These are humbling themselves, and HE is doing the lifting.
"Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known My name." [Psalm 91:14]. The context has spoken of some dire conditions-- describing how indeed the enemy comes in like a flood-- "the terror by night, the arrow that flieth by day, the pestilence that walketh in darkness, the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand falling at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand," yet in the midst of all this, there is the LIFTING UP OF THE ENSIGN, for "I will set him on high, because he hath known My name." Because he has experienced the reality of My nature and character, because he has become one in My righteousness, I will raise him up as My LIVING STANDARD.
That which is first found in our Lord Jesus Christ, then becomes personified in a people who bear His name. "And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for AN ENSIGN of the people; to it shall the nations seek: and his rest shall be glorious.-- And He shall lift up an ENSIGN for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." [Isaiah 11:10, 12].
"Which shall stand..." Here we have the Hebrew word "amad" for "stand" and it literally means: to stand still, or firm, or fast. This ensign, now bearing the image of the heavenly, shall stand still, firmly in its place in God. "Lord, by Thy favour Thou hast made my mountain to STAND STRONG." [Psalm 30:7]. There are those who are driven and tossed as the sea, blown about by every wind of doctrine, and upset with every change of circumstance. But there are also those who have become "Stedfast, unmoveable (though) always abounding in the work of the Lord." [1 Corinthians 15:58]. He is bringing forth a people with STABILITY. They know in Whom they have believed, and in Him they stand still, firm, solid.
"And his rest shall be glorious." A living manifestation of rest. Not just signs pointing to the rest, but embodying that rest, so that everyone who comes into the sphere of their influence shall be blessed with that rest. No wonder He raises them r up for His ensign! These are those who have ceased from their, own self-works and labour, and they have entered into their rest in the Lord, knowing that in Him alone is their salvation. And they can now BE that witness of rest to the nations.
With the lifting up of this ensign shall come an "assembling of the outcasts of Israel." That which had been dispersed, scattered, cast out, shall now have a banner unto which they can rally, return, re-group, and with joy become the kingdom of the Lord.
The enemy had thought to come in like a flood, to sweep all nations into his destruction and corruption. Ah, but God had prepared a STANDARD, AN ENSIGN to raise up, and so great will be that ministry of love and rest, it will speak HOPE for all nations. They shall come with joy to partake of that fountain of living water, enter into that rest of the Lord. "In the days of these kings (of earth, man, and evil) shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed." [Daniel 2:44].
Now we come to the joyous promise declared by Paul, for "The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God." [1 Thessalonians 4:16].
The word "shout" gives us a clarification, helping our understanding. Conybeare translates it as "A SHOUT OF WAR." And in his footnote he explains, "this word denotes the shout used in battle." Thus we could rightly term this as A WAR CRY. The Greek word "keleusma" used here, from the root, keleuo, meaning: to call to, urge on, command.
This brings a whole new aspect into the truth of this coming of our Lord, for it is a time of great BATTLE, with the CAPTAIN OF THE HOST descending with a shout of war, to urge on, encourage, and give the command, "TIME TO POSSESS THE KINGDOM." Concurrent with the lifting up of His ensign, He will arrive to give the clear direction for the battle, guaranteeing the victory. "The Lord shall utter His voice before His army; for His camp is very great: for He is strong that executeth His word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?" [Joel 2:11]. This is not some remote control, with a battle strategy planned in a hideout far from the battle by leaders who never see the action. But the LORD HIMSELF is pleased to become our BANNER, and to shew Himself united with His ENSIGN in whom He dwells by His Spirit-- to become a revelation of the glorious victory wherein His salvation shall go forth to bless all creation.
"All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when He lifteth up an ensign on the mountains," and when He bloweth a trumpet, hear ye." [Isaiah 18:3]. One thing to be noted about this working of God, it is not to be done in a corner. Secret as it has been during all of the preparation process, a hidden work within, once He pulls back the veil, all the inhabitants of the world shall see this ensign He has prepared.
"And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of His people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon His land." [Zechariah 9:16]. Marvelous indeed is the salvation of the Lord! His hand is upon His flock. "Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." [Luke 12:32]. "And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up My jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him." [Malachi 3:17].
The symbols are many-- a flock, jewels, and AN ENSIGN. As a Shepherd He watches over His little flock. As a King He gathers them in, to adorn Himself with them as jewels. As Captain of the Hosts He raises them up as His ensign, to be His living declaration of victory, a standard that will cause the enemy to flee. Nought shall stand before Him, for truly, "In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us." [Romans 8:37].
Some behold the enemy, darkness, yea, and fear,
They see the devastating flood drawing so near.
But others see the Standard raised, our Jesus Christ,
Their revelation born within a lonely tryst.
To hear His call, and thus be changed, yea, to become
In Him a beacon in the night -His life their sum.
For as He is, thou, too, shalt be -His will is thine,
The Banner births of His own kind, a true ensign.
Ensign -- a witness of His grace all men shall see,
The Captain of the hosts descends with victory.