Friday, January 9, 2015

In Confidence Is Your Strength

An Ensign is a junior officer in the army who carries an ensign or flag.  Here is a picture of a Civil War soldier holding the flag which is full of bullet holes from battle.  In battle, an ensign holds the flag showing the soldiers that the fight has not yet been surrendered.  When the flag goes down, the battle is over, unless the Ensign has been shot, in which case a fellow soldier immediately raises the flag and becomes the new Ensign.

Image courtesy Ron Brothers
I don’t know if Ensigns held flags during Israelite battles but the idea of an ensign (flag) is referred to nine times in the Old Testament.

Isaiah speaks of a political alliance that Israel made with Egypt to gain protection from the Assyrians.  “Therefore shall the strength of Pharaoh be your shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt your confusion…For the Egyptians shall help in vain, and to no purpose: therefore have I cried concerning this, Their strength is to sit still.”  (Isa 30:3,7)

Isaiah’s prophetic counsel to the Israelites is to confidently hold ground.  “For thus saith the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel; … in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.”  (Isa 30:15)  Confidence is a hard stance to hold when you are afraid.

As the story goes, the people’s response to this counsel was to run.  “But ye said, No; for we will flee upon horses… and, We will ride upon the swift”  (Isa 30:16)

Horses courtesy Milos Milosevic
In our day of planes, trains and automobiles, it seems laughable to flee on a horse.  Where are you going to go on a horse?  It is even harder to run away from yourself.

After all the masses have fled, who is left to fight?  The few who remain are the ones that followed the prophet’s counsel to hold their ground.  These few are “as a beacon upon the top of a mountain, and as an ensign on an hill.”  (Isa 30:17) 

Isaiah’s counsel was not heeded in his day, but I believe him.  My strength is within me.  If I can just hold my ground and not run, my confidence resting firmly in the Lord, I will be an Ensign on a hill.  Others look and they see that the battle is not yet over.  They don’t give up either.  In the end, the Lord will win the battle with sin and death.  The Lord says, “I will fight your battles,” but you must stand your ground. (D&C 105:14)  

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