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The Symbolic Use of Flags and Banners in Praise and Worship

Arletia is a Christian Chaplain, Ordained Minister, and Teacher. The use of Creative Arts in ministry is one of the topics that she enjoys

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the-symbolic-use-of-praise-and-worship-in-the-church

The Ministry of Banner Bearers

The purpose of this article is to give a brief, biblical foundation of the praise dance, flag or banner ministry for people that may have seen this kind of worship done in church or at church events, but did not have an understanding of why and how it is used for ministry.

The flags and banners used in ministry are symbolic. Symbolism is used a lot in scripture. When Jesus spoke in parables, he used symbolism to hide the mysteries of the gospel from some and revealed it to others. In the book of Matthew, chapter 13, verses 10 and 11, Jesus is asked by his disciples why he spoke to the people in parables, He answered and said unto them, because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. In the Bible, God often used His prophets to demonstrate messages through symbolism, and the mysteries of the gospel are still being revealed through his Holy Spirit through the gifts and talents of worship arts ministers.

Flags, Banners, Ensigns and Standards: According to the dictionary, the word “flag” is a piece of cloth, usually rectangular, of distinctive color and design, used as a symbol, standard, signal, or emblem. This word is not used in the Bible in the same context, but for the purpose of this article, it will be used interchangeably with the words "banner" and "ensign". In Strong’s Concordance the definition of what we commonly refer to as a “flag” is called a “banner” or “ensign" in the Bible” Below are biblical definitions of these words with supporting scriptures.

Standard (5127) - To flee, to escape, to put to flight, to depart, to cause to disappear, to hide.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 against him. Isaiah 59:19

Standard (5251) – A banner, such as was set up on high mountains, especially in the case of invasion, when it showed the people where to assemble. (ensign, pole, banner, sail, sign.) Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for the LORD hath both devised and done that which he spake against the inhabitants of Babylon. Jeremiah 51:12

Standard (1714) – Banner. And the children of Israel shall pitch their tents, every man by his own camp, and every man by his own standard, throughout their hosts. Numbers 1:52

Ensign (226) – 1) sign, signal: A distinguishing mark, banner, remembrance, miraculous sign, omen, warning 2) token, Ensign, standard, miracle, proof. And the LORD said unto Moses, Bring Aaron's rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not. Numbers 17:10

Ensign (5264) - To be lifted up or displayed. To exalt. 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 9:17

Jehovah Nissi - The Lord Our Banner: There is only one place in the Bible that God is referred to as Jehovah Nissi. It is in the book of Exodus, Chapter 17. Moses identified the Lord as the banner under which Israel defeated the Amalekites. To seal this declaration, he built an altar and called it Jehovah-Nissi (the Lord our Banner). In battle, opposing nations flew their flag on a pole of the front line. This gave the soldiers a focal point and hope. The story begins in verse 8 and continues through verse 16. However, as you read, the revelation of Jehovah Nissi is clearly revealed through the events that occur in verses 11through16.

Symbolically, Moses with his raised arms, served as a banner for Israel. They were encouraged and victorious whenever they saw his arms raised. But Moses, being the humble and submitted servant that he was, recognized that it was not by his might, but by the power of the Almighty God whose banner he was under that was the true source of their victory. He also leaned on the physical support of Aaron and Ur who held his arms up when he grew tired and weak. And so, it was written as a memorial in a book, and we have read and understood. Therefore, as you minister to the body of Christ with banners and flags, you are declaring that we are strengthened, encouraged and victorious in Jehovah Nissi – The Lord our Banner.

Why Flags? There are many ways that God can use your gifts and talents to convey messages to his people. As you minister with flags, you are declaring to the body of Christ that the Lord Is Our Banner. Our flags identify us as His children, His messengers, His servants, His Salt, His Light and His beacons on earth. As such, we lead, guide and point to our Father in heaven and His son by expressing His word, rejoicing at God’s promises, reminding the body of Christ of the imminent return of Christ, calling sinners to repentance and exalting God for being who He is – the magnanimous creator that is worthy of all honor, glory and praise.

Flag and banner worship arts ministers are called to; lift up a standard against our enemies to put them to flight;identify ourselves as children of the Most High God; be a testimony of Christ; and exalt our Lord.

Specific ways that flags and banners may be used symbolically include:

  1. Intercessors may receive revelation from God about what is going on spiritually in the atmosphere that leads them to pray or engage in spiritual warfare using this symbolic tool to express what is going on in the spiritual realm. Remember, one of the definitions of “standard” is “to put to flight.” A waving flag along with prayer can demonstrate this. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him. Isaiah 59:19
  2. A banner can be lifted as a declaration of God's faithfulness as we witness his words come to pass. Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes: for the LORD hath both devised and done that which he spake against the inhabitants of Babylon. Jeremiah 51:12
  3. People with the gift of dance may incorporate flags, streamers or timbrels in their praise and worship. And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. Exodus 15:20
  4. Flags can be used as a demonstrative tool in spiritual warfare (battle). Set up a banner in the land, Blow the trumpet among the nations! Prepare the nations against her, Call the kingdoms together against her: Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz. Appoint a general against her; Cause the horses to come up like the bristling locusts. Jeremiah 51:27
  5. Flags can be used to exalt the Lord or celebrate revival. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive [as] the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof [shall be] as the wine of Lebanon. Hosea 14:7
  6. An “ensign” can demonstrate the presence of God and his availability and desire to perform miracles. And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. Numbers 21:9

Don't worship the gift: In closing, It’s a wonderful thing to discover where your gifts and talents fit in the body of Christ – especially in an environment where there is liberty and freedom to worship God through the creative arts. However, some people get so caught up in the gift that it becomes an idol in their life. They end up chasing the gift and looking for any opportunity to demonstrate their talent instead of being used by God. The creative arts is an area of ministry where consecration and sanctification are particularly important in order to minister in spirit and truth. The worship arts minister is an intercessor, worshiper and instrument of praise, not an entertainer.

Flag colors and styles are not covered in this article, but they do have symbolic meaning in this ministry.

Questions & Answers

Question: Do you see dancing with banners as an act of worship? Why or why not?

Answer: Dancing with banners can be an act of worship if that is what is in the banner bearers heart. If they are doing it for attention, pride, competition or comparison, then it is not an act of worship. It's about the heart of the worshiper. However, since you don't know what is in their heart, only God does, it is good not to judge a person's worship. Read. 2 Samuel 6:20-23. If you would like to learn more about this ministry there is a book called, The Ministry of the Standard Bearer that may help your understanding.

Question: How can you explain this ministry to your leader who does not understand it?

Answer: You can simply ask them if you can worship with flags. You can also send them the link to this article. You can also purchase a book on the Ministry of the Standard Bearer online.

Question: What does a black flag mean? I saw it in a dream on the entrance to a room.

Answer: These scriptures represent how the color Black is used in scripture: sin (Job 6:15-16), disease (Job 30:30), famine

(Lamentations 4:8, 5:10, Revelation 6:5-6) death (Jude 1:12-13),

sorrow (Jeremiah 8:21), judgment (Jeremiah 14:2; Leviticus 13:37,

Job 3:5)

Some dreams are from the heavenly realm and some are from the demonic realm; some are from the food you ate before you went to bed. To know the difference, you must ask God who is all-knowing. Seek Him in His Word. Look up these scriptures and read them in context (what comes before and after). Ask the Lord if any of it applies to you. If you are not a born-again believer, the devil has authority to deceive you. He likes to pose as God. So, my recommendation is that you, first, ask Jesus to forgive your sins and be Lord of your life. Then, the mysteries can be revealed to you. His mysteries are for believers. Read In Matthew 13:10-17 to find out why I say this. As a believer, I can tell you that on the surface, this dream could indicate an opportunity that will lead to destruction, sorrow or misery. Possibly, a door that should remain closed. God has a path for you that is filled with light. His Word (the Bible) is the light. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105. In Him there is no darkness. 1 John 1:15

Question: Is this article just another act of progressive nonsense?

Answer: You are entitled to your opinion, but consider 2 Samuel 6:20-23, which is a warning about criticizing or judging another person's worship.

Question: What does a white flag mean? In a dream I was given the responsibility of making the flag and hanging it in the church.

Answer: The following are scriptures associated with the way white is used in scripture.

purity, refinement, unblemished, righteousness,

heavenly (Psalm 51:7, Ecclesiastes 9:8, Daniel 7:9; 11:35; 12:10,

Matthew 17:2, Mark 9:3, Luke 9:29, John 20:12, Acts 1:10,

Revelation 3:4-5; 18; 4:4; 6:11;7:9; 13-14), victory (Revelation 6:2:

19:11;14), angelic (Mark 16:5); Also used to represent cleansing

and holiness.

I suggest you meditate on the scriptures and ask God. He knows exactly what He wants to communicate to the church through you. He knows your gifts, talents, and influence better than anyone. He will speak to you and guide you as you meditate on His Word. Ask Him what the dream means. What He wants you to know or do? He has all the answers. "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye. shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh. findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened" Matthew 7:7-8

Question: What does the camouflage color mean?

Answer: Camouflage is not a biblical color or pattern because it was not used in biblical times. It was not a uniform of that culture. However, it does have relevance to our culture and history as a symbol of warfare. For this reason, it may be used to symbolize warfare in ministry or other demonstrative applications.

Question: What does waving a flag or two at waist high mean?

Answer: It means nothing unless God speaks to you about it through His Word.

Question: What about having a huge sheet held by 4 people and waved over the heads of the whole congregation?

Answer: White represents purity, cleansing, and holiness. Isaiah 1:18. Washing with the Word of God is BEST!

© 2012 Arletia Mayfield

Comments

Arletia Mayfield (author) from Ocala, Florida on August 07, 2020:

Victory. The greatest problem worship dancers face is pride, comparison, competition, and entertainment. These are inner man issues. They are addressed in a chapter of the book I wrote called The Ministry of the Standard Bearer.

Mwikisa M Dennis on July 15, 2020:

Thank you for this explanation. Thank you God. I have learnt something profitable to my faith. May God bless.

victory on February 05, 2020:

Add Your Comment.. problems dancers faces especially worship dancers

Rosa Anderson on January 26, 2020:

I really like more a information on colors and there meaning

Nan on October 05, 2019:

I was wondering what the meaning is if someone waves a flag or two at waist level back and forth.

L on June 29, 2019:

Hello

I have seen flags and dance at conference and was strongly drew to it in worship. My church is into praise but there are no flags I would love to move into this area. I have had a vision (well I think hats what it is ) where I saw different coloured flags can u tell me the best way to share this.

Arletia Mayfield (author) from Ocala, Florida on June 17, 2019:

shameika Flag ministry is led by the spirit. However, if you are making a presentation, some choreography might be desirable. The main thing is to direct your worship to God, not man.

Arletia Mayfield (author) from Ocala, Florida on November 17, 2018:

Joe that sounds like a wonderful presentation. Even though you did not understand the verbal language, It sounds like you were able to follow along. I'm publishing a book that goes deeper into this topic in 2018.

Joe on October 29, 2018:

I started attending a church that has the most beautiful worship service to the Lord I have ever experienced. They use flags and dance in worship. I had seen this once before in a multi church revival setting. I watched a Spanish church perfom what appeared to me as very specific dances using flags, long silk sheets etc. Because there was a language barrier to some extent I wasn't able to grasp it all. But it seemed on of the dances signified the delivery of the Israelite through the Red Sea ! another seemed to be representing being born again. And one for carrying the 12 flags representing the 12 tribes of Israel. I was very moved in the Spirit by it, and knew there was much more to it than just a beautiful dance. This explanation was awesome, So I thank you for helping see the value in worshipping God this way !

Gidget on August 01, 2018:

EXCELLENT ARTICLE! As a pastor getting ready to start a flag ministry this article hit the nail on the head! Can’t wait to share this with those who will be in the ministry!

Cecilia on April 12, 2018:

It is not a performance it is under the unction and power of the HOLYSPIRIT.

shameika on April 05, 2018:

Is the movement a trained movement or is it lead by the Spirit of God or both?

Alesha Wright on February 11, 2018:

THIS WAS A GREAT ARTICLE. THANK YOU FOR SHARING. MAY GOD CONTINUE TO BLESS YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND WITH TRAVELING GRACE AND BLESSINGS FOR YOUR MINISTRY.

Victory21 on January 18, 2018:

Loved the article. Starting banner Ministry. Very helpful. Thanks

Arletia Mayfield (author) from Ocala, Florida on October 26, 2017:

Good catch Brenda. I have corrected the Chapter from 15 to 17. I know that scripture by heart. Don't know why I would do that. Thanks for the gentle correction.

Bbbbbbb on August 25, 2017:

Love the infermashon thanks you

:)

Brenda on July 09, 2017:

Good article. Jehovah Nissi is mentioned in Exodus 17 as opposed to 15.

Valarie Smith on February 19, 2017:

This was very educating for me, This article enlighten me so much thank you for the eye opener

Adriana Quesada on December 21, 2016:

What a fascinating article. Your comment about not worshiping the gift is spot on. I am t a worship leader. I prayed a lot . I was an ordinary person who allowed the Lord to work through me. I have seen other worship leaders who were merely entertainers. They weren't concerned about how the congregation interacted. They only cared about giving a good performance. There is a difference between just singing a song and truly worshiping.

Lori Colbo from Pacific Northwest on October 18, 2013:

I think the waving of banners at church in worship is a beautiful and joyful experience. But sometimes I also find it very distracting. But I guess that means I'm not in the right attitude of praise. Nice hub.

lorraine on October 12, 2013:

thi article is very informative

Arletia Mayfield (author) from Ocala, Florida on July 07, 2013:

Thanks Marlene, I am in agreement with you completely...and I will upload an article about colors and styles soon. Thanks for the follow.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on May 16, 2013:

What a fascinating article. Your comment about not worshiping the gift is spot on. I use to be a worship leader. I prayed a lot before, during, and after each worship preparation and session. I knew it wasn't about my gift. I was an ordinary person who allowed the Lord to work through me. I have seen other worship leaders who were merely entertainers. They weren't concerned about how the congregation interacted. They only cared about giving a good performance. There is a difference between just singing a song and truly worshiping.

I know this article didn't cover the colors and styles of flags, but I'm going to follow you so that "when" you do write that article, I can read it, too. :)

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