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SCRIPTURAL BACKGROUND - Banners & Flags in Worship


Banners and flags have an important place in both the Old and New Testaments. There are three words in Hebrew which represent the concept of a banner or flag:

  • degal (daw-gal) - to flaunt, i.e. raise up a flag; to be conspicuous
  • nec (nace) - a flag; also a sail; a signal; a token-banner, pole, sail, ensign, standard
  • nacac (naw-sas) - to gleam from afar, i.e., to be conspicuous as a signal (the idea of a flag as fluttering in the wind); to raise a beacon; lift up as an ensign


Twelve purposes for banners & flags are outlined in the Scriptures

1. Banners rally the troops in war

Isaiah 5:26 - He will lift up a banner to the nations from afar, and will whistle to them from the end of the earth; Surely they shall come with speed, swiftly.

Isaiah 13:2 - Lift up a banner on the high mountain, Raise your voice to them; Wave your hand, that they may enter the gates of the nobles.

Isaiah 30:17 - One thousand shall flee at the threat of one, At the threat of five you shall flee, Till you are left as a pole on top of a mountain And as a banner on a hill.

2. Banners bestow honor and love

Psalm 60:4-5 - You have given a banner to those who fear You, That it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah. That Your beloved may be delivered, save with Your right hand, and hear me.

Song of Songs 2:4 - He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

3. Banners tell people who you represent

Numbers 1:52 - The children of Israel shall pitch their tents, everyone by his own camp, everyone by his own standard (banner), according to their armies.

Numbers 2:2 – Every one of the children of Israel shall camp by his own standard (banner), beside the emblems of his father's house; they shall camp some distance from the tabernacle of meeting.

Numbers 10:14 - The standard (banner) of the camp of the children of Judah set out first according to their armies; over their army was Nahshon the son of Amminadab.

4. Banners signal of attract attention

Isaiah 62:10-12 - Go through, Go through the gates! Prepare the way for the people; Build up, Build up the highway! Take out the stones, Lift up a banner for the peoples! Indeed the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the world: "Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Surely your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him, And His work before Him.'" And they shall call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; And you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.

Jeremiah 51:12 - Set up the standard (banner) on the walls of Babylon; Make the guard strong, Set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes. For the Lord has both devised and done, what He spoke against the inhabitants of Babylon.

Jeremiah 4:5-6 - Declare in Judah and proclaim in Jerusalem, and say: "Blow the trumpet in the land; Cry, 'Gather together,' and say, 'Assemble yourselves, And let us go into the fortified cities.' Set up the standard (banner) toward Zion. Take refuge! Do not delay! For I will bring disaster from the north and great destruction."

Psalm 65:8 - They also who dwell in the farthest parts are afraid of your signs (flags); You make the outgoings of the morning and evening rejoice.

5. Banners herald an event

Isaiah 18:3 - All inhabitants of the world and dwellers of the earth: when he lifts up a banner on the mountains, you see it; and when he blows a trumpet, you hear it.

Isaiah 49:22 - Thus says the Lord God: "Behold, I will lift my hand in an oath to the nations, and set up My standard (banner) for the peoples; They shall bring your sons in their arms, And your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders."

Jeremiah 50:2 - "Declare among the nations, Proclaim, and set up a standard (banner); Proclaim -- do not conceal it -- Say, 'Babylon is taken, Bel is shamed. Merodach is broken in pieces; Her idols are humiliated, Her images are broken in pieces.'

Jeremiah 51:12 - Set up the standard (banner) on the walls of Babylon; Make the guard strong, Set up the watchmen, Prepare the ambushes. For the Lord has both devised and done What He spoke against the inhabitants of Babylon.

6. Banners unify the company - directing warfare and praise

Isaiah 13:2 - Lift up a banner on the high mountain, Raise your voice to them; Wave your hand, that they may enter the gates of the nobles.

7. Banners show victories won

Psalm 20:5-9 - We will rejoice in your salvation, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions. Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They have bowed down and fallen; But we have risen and stand upright. Save, Lord! May the King answer us when we call.

Song of Songs 6:4 - O my love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah, lovely as Jerusalem, awesome as an army with banners!

Song of Songs 6:10 - Who is she who looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, awesome as an army with banners?

8. Banners are a demonstration of God's presence lifted in our midst

Exodus 17:15 - And Moses built an Alter and called its name, The-Lord-Is-My-Banner.

9. Banners can be a rallying point of healing

Isaiah 11:10-11 - "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." It shall come to pass in that day that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush, from Elam and Shinar, from Hamath and the islands of the sea.

Numbers 21:8-9 - Then the Lord said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and it shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live." So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived.

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

John 12:32 - And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.

10. Banners put the enemy to flight

Isaiah 59:19 - So shall they fear The name of the Lord from the west, And His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, The Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard (banner) against him.

Isaiah 31:8-9 - "Then Assyria shall fall by a sword not of man, And a sword not of mankind shall devour him. But he shall flee from the sword, And his young men shall become forced labor. He shall cross over to his stronghold for fear, And his princes shall be afraid of the banner," says the Lord, Whose fire is in Zion And whose furnace is in Jerusalem.

Psalm 60:4-5 - You have given a banner to those who fear You, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah. That your beloved may be delivered, save with your right hand, and hear me.

11. Banners mark the safe path to follow

Jeremiah 4:6 - Set up the standard (banner) toward Zion. Take refuge! Do not delay! For I will bring disaster from the north, And great destruction.

Jeremiah 50:2 - "Declare among the nations, Proclaim, and set up a standard (banner); Proclaim -- do not conceal it -- Say, 'Babylon is taken, Bel is shamed. Merodach is broken in pieces; Her idols are humiliated, Her images are broken in pieces.'

Jeremiah 51:12 - Set up the standard (banner) on the walls of Babylon; Make the guard strong, Set up the watchmen, Prepare the ambushes. For the Lord has both devised and done What He spoke against the inhabitants of Babylon.

Jeremiah 51:27 - Set up a banner in the land, Blow the trumpet among the nations! Prepare the nations against her, Call the kingdoms together against her: Arafat, Minni, and Ashkenaz. Appoint a general against her; Cause the horses to come up like the bristling locusts.

12. Banners minister to and celebrate the Lord

Psalm 20:5 - We will rejoice in your salvation, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.

Zechariah 9:9-16 - "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; The battle bow shall be cut off. He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be 'from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.' As for you also, Because of the blood of your Covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare That I will restore double to you. For I have bent Judah, My bow, Fitted the bow with Ephraim, And raised up your sons, O Zion, Against your sons, O Greece, And made you like the sword of a mighty man." Then the Lord will be seen over them, And His arrow will go forth like lightning. The Lord God will blow the trumpet, And go with whirlwinds from the south. The Lord of hosts will defend them; They shall devour and subdue with sling-stones. They shall drink and roar as if with wine; They shall be filled with blood like basins, Like the corners of the altar. 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."

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