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 against him.
Graham Cooke said when you see the enemy coming in like a flood in your life, look around to see what God is raising up.
While this thought intrigued me it also lured me in. I started looking into it.
The book of Numbers describes each tribe in the nation of Israel had a banner or a standard that represented their tribe; it identified them. Each tribe camped under that banner; they went to war under that banner.
When the Word says, the Lord is lifting up a banner, He is going to war for you. That alone is powerful. Or He is creating a place of peace (a place to camp) for you.
There is more there…
My parents came to know the Lord in a more profound way in their early 20s. They joined a Spirit-filled church when I was nine months old. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to live their lives for Jesus…well, for Jesus, their church and their pastor. The church had “standards” (translates rules) that were to be lived by. The standards were loosely based on the Bible (some poor interpretations and bad definitions). Basically, there were many “NOs” and very few “YES, do this”. At least from my point of view. For example…no tv, no movies, no short skirts, no makeup, no tattoos, no piercings, no jewelry, no alcohol, no, no, no…. The focus was on following the rules not on following Jesus. Somehow they made it through all of this with their faith in Jesus (they may have lost some faith in others). This is my backstory. A foundation of what was not allowed and fear of breaking those rules as my standard of who God is.
As a parent, I find I am often saying, “No”. I don’t like being the “No” person. (I am almost always the “no” person) There are some things that are our standard of living. These things are based on identity not on DOs and DON’Ts. We learned in foster care training about establishing family values in a positive way. For example, instead of saying, “We do not lie”, we say, “In our family, we tell the truth.” It became about establishing our identity….we are truth tellers. There is no riding the fence about deception, we tell the truth. If you have a foundation of who you are you live your life accordingly. It’s not about not about “no”, it’s about “this is who I am and that doing this isn’t who I am.”
Webster’s Dictionary has several definition for the word “standard”. On of those definitions is “something established by authority, custom or general consent.” Another definition says, “a rule for the measure of quality, weight, extent, value or quality….the fineness and legally fixed weight of the metal used in coins; the basic value in a monetary system.”
Standards define value.
In our lives, God sets the value system or the standards in which we live by. There are some “DOs” and some “DON’Ts”.
As a kid, we vacationed in Colorado….several times. We traveled in motor homes and with travel trailers up to the mountains near Durango; we stayed near a little town called Silverton, next to a river. We are from Texas…in August, we experience hell-like temperatures along with the humidity of central Texas, it’s the pool or staying inside. That’s when we escaped to Colorado for two or three weeks. We tried going swimming in that river but the water was cold; that river was a result of the snow melting on the mountains above. They still had snow up in those mountains. When we setup camp, we dropped out hoses in river as our water source. That water was clear, cold and pure. It tasted like heaven. There was a purity to that water that felt incorruptible. In order to maintain that water’s purity, we did not dump our waste product in the river.
In America, we enjoy a certain level of expectation when it comes to our water. As a country we have established standards of purity when it comes to our water. When we turn our faucet on in our home, we expect clear, clean water to flow. Certainly there are exceptions to this but overall the standards we have set for water systems and enforced by our government have allowed us to live with an expectation of clean water. There are “DOs” and “DON’Ts” for companies expelling used water; those standards are in place for our protection. There are some things in life that are better pure. Most things are better pure.
Let me throw out an example that almost everyone (especially you all who grew up in church) can relate to. When I was a teenager, the churches approach to sex was “don’t do it, it’s bad.” Many young people ignored this because it’s a lie. We heard rumors that it was super fun. The truth is, sex is great. God created it. He has some standards in regards to sex that protect us from harming our bodies, hearts and spirits. God’s standard is not “don’t do it” God’s standard is “do it, when you are married.” When we follow His standard we maintain a purity that adds value. On the flip side, we cannot put so much value on virginity that anything less is spoiled goods. We must also rise to God’s standard of grace and complete forgiveness; His standard of anything He calls clean is completely restored.
My goal here is not to throw out personal standards of holiness. My goal is to change our thinking…if we know who God created us to be and what He says about us, so many of the “NOs” fall away and we see all God’s “YESes”! His “YES” brings value, depth and quality to our lives.
What about the phrase, “Standard of living”? Some people have a high standard of living and some people have a lower standard of living. Once you have achieved a certain level of living, you really do not want to go back to a previous level. That’s not to say you cannot go back or will not go back. You may be more willing to fight to stay at the level you are at.
My brother and sister-in-law lived with us for a few years. My brother-in-law works for Whole Foods; he’s a butcher. When Whole Foods would have a good sale on meat, he would stock our freezer up. When they had ground beef on sale, so be bought 10 pounds of beef, had them wrapped in one pound packages and put them in the freezer. When I cooked dinner, I would pull out what we needed. After a month or so of using beef from Whole Foods, I switched back to the cheaper version from our local grocer. When I cooked it, it stank; it smelled rancid. I could not stand the smell of it and wondered what was wrong with it. Moving forward, I began purchasing a grass-fed beef from the local grocer. My standard changed. I was no longer “OK” with the cheaper version.
When I look at this passage in Isaiah, I think about how so many times God allows us to go through things in order to change our standard of who He is. I did not know God as my provider until I was single and did not have a job in my field for almost a year. I didn’t know God as my provider until my electricity was shut off for almost two weeks. Once I went through that season, I could not unknow Him as the ONE WHO PROVIDES FOR ME….It became my new standard.
Once God has healed you, you know Him as the Healer.
When God says you are good daughter or son, you know Him as as Abba, Father; a good, good Father.
When God brings, healing, deliverance and freedom to your life, then He becomes who you look to for healing, deliverance and freedom!
When it looks like and feels like the enemy is coming in like a flood, look around for what God is doing. Look for what He is revealing to you about Himself.
Taking it a step farther….when you encounter a situation that you haven’t walked through, look to those around you because with God there is no partiality (Romans 2:11). That means, you can ask Him for the receipts. Let me explain. Shawn Bolz told a story about his family when he was growing up. One day, his dad and sister came home and she had shopping bags filled with new clothes. She was so excited about her dad taking her shopping for “no reason”. Shawn told his dad, “I want to see the receipts.” He dad asked, “Why?” He told his dad, “I know you are a good dad and whatever you spent on her, you will spend on me.” Shawn didn’t want clothes (he wanted video games). His dad laughed…he loved that his son believed in his goodness; he loved that his son knew him well; he wanted to bless his kids. Our God also is a good, dad. He wants us to ask for the receipts. If God worked something for one person He will do it for you. Ask Him. It may not look exactly the same, but He will work on your behalf if you rely on Him.
Have you ever wondered why you envy some people. Maybe it’s not pure envy. Maybe you are getting a glimpse of something God wants you get a vision for. Maybe He is trying to stir up a desire in you that He wants to fulfill. Maybe He is waiting for you to ask Him! Maybe He wants to set a new standard of living for you.
When the enemy comes in on every side…God is going to fight for you and reveal a higher standard of living in your life.