With our myriad of June celebrations and July 4th, we think of West Virginia Day, U.S. Flag Day, and Father's Day. There are at least three other terms that describe a designated flag: ensign, banner, or standard. These four mentioned words are used interchangeably throughout Old Testament scriptures.
Our topic will also reach for a symbol of our Church of God of Prophecy history, envisioned on June 13, 1903, and, with the future adoption of our All Nations Flag in 1933.
Let's begin with our West Virginia state flag which was adopted in 1929. This state symbol declares: "Montani Semper Liberi," meaning "Mountaineers are always free." "Let's Go Mountaineers." We've listened and watched the WVU coon-skinned mountaineer shooting his rifle while running with the state flag. Our West Virginia ensign has a white field surrounded by blue. The state seal is encircled by a garland of the state flower, the Rhododendron, in the center of the flag.
The state seal pictures two men, a farmer and a miner, around a rock bearing the date June 20, 1863, the day West Virginia split from Virginia and became a separate state. Below the farmer and miner are two rifles and a red liberty cap which is a symbol of freedom. On a red ribbon below is the state motto in Latin. A large red ribbon above the seal reads: State of West Virginia. From 1904 through March 7, 1929, significant changes were made until its final design was approved that day.
"Old Glory," our United States flag, has experienced several designs approved by Congress from January 1776 to 1960, by which time Hawaii and Alaska had increased our number of states to 50. "Hooray for the Red, White, and Blue!" "That Star Spangled Banner still waves, For the land of the free and the home of the brave."
We prayerfully thank God for our nation and it's godly heritage, and patriotic persons influenced by the stars and stripes: for Betsy Ross, for Frederick, Md.'s Francis Scott Key, who penned the National Anthem, and Barbara Fritchie, who declared while the Confederate army was marching through: "Shoot if you must this old gray head, but spare your country's flag" (J.G. Whittier).
When Israel was a complete 12-tribe nation as it made its Exodus from Egypt, they marched through the wilderness, tribe by tribe, with each having it's own tribal ensign or "standard." Judah, Christ's ancestral tribe meaning "Praise," was to lead the processional. The tribe of Dan, which means "Judgment," was marching at the rear of the 12 tribes. Samson, the judge, was from the tribe of Dan.
Numbers 2:1-3a KJV reads: "And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron saying, Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch his own standard, with the ensign of their father's house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch. And on the east side toward the rising of the sun shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah, pitch throughout their armies."
Numbers 2:31 speaks of Dan: "All they that were numbered in the camp of Dan were an hundred thousand and fifty and seven thousand and six hundred. They shall go hindermost (furthest back, or 'last'), with their standards."
In the Bible, there are many references to ensigns. Psalm 74:4: "Thine enemies roar in the midst of thy congregations; they set up their ensigns for signs." Isaiah 5:26; "And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and behold they shall come with speed swiftly."
Chapter 11:10: "And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse (Christ), which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious." Verse 12: "And he shall set 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 18:3: "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."
Chapter 30:17 mentions: "And as an ensign on a hill." Chapter 31:9b declares: "And his princes shall be afraid of the ensign saith the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem." Zechariah 9:16: "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."
The term "banner(s)" is also used: "Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah," Psalm 60:4. Song of Solomon 2:4: "He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love." In chapter 6:4, 10, King Solomon describes: "Terrible as an army with banners." As a child I would listen to Perry Como sing "Onward Christian Soldiers," "Like a mighty army, moves the Church of God... See his banners go."
Circa 1898-1899, Ambrose Jessup Tomlinson joined a small group of believers in Western North Carolina, that was later in 1907 named "Church of God." On June 13, 1903, Tomlinson, after earnestly praying and seeking the Lord, received a divine revelation from the Holy Spirit, that by taking the whole Bible rightly divided, it "Biblically" should be understood as the Church of God. A.J. Tomlinson became one of the first covenant members. The Tomlinson Church of God, Cleveland, Tenn., was legally renamed The Church of God of Prophecy in 1952.
On Friday, Sept. 15, 1933, Tomlinson, then General Overseer of the Church of God, presented to the 28th annual General Assembly his Holy Spirit vision for a Church ensign, banner or flag that would be for all nations which incorporated into the Church body. Many denominations still use the standard, Christian flag. Other groups have adopted using ceremonial flags in worship services. One group called "The Church of God" has adopted similar features as those of our COGOP ensign.
These features represent Christ in all description. The colors of red (representing Christ's blood), white (fine linen of the saints, clean and white), blue (representing truth) and purple (royalty), are taken from numerous Leviticus passages and other Old Testament scriptures. The Scepter, The Star and Crown, represent Jesus Christ as King of Kings, Lord of Lords. The Scepter: Genesis 49:10: "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh (our 'rest' in Christ) come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be."
The "Star" is mentioned in Numbers 24:17: "I shall see him (Christ), but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel." Matthew 2:10: "And when they saw the Star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy." The "Crown": Revelation 19:11-12: "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse: and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
"His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns (no crown of thorns this time!), and he had a name written, that no man knew but he himself." Revelation 2:10b speaks of our reward for serving Almighty Jehovah God, His Son Jesus Christ and their precious Holy Spirit: "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." Many deceased pastors and ministers, including A.J. Tomlinson, have draped their casket with the church's all nations flag, the banner of truth and love, His holy ensign and standard.
These are available for purchase. I've personally requested one, if my departure from this un-Godly world transpires before Christ returns for Holy Zion, that Glorious Church of God of Prophecy. The 28th General Assembly approved the current design on the flag. Tomlinson encouraged the organization to raise this ensign over any new church formed globally, being flown next to their national flag. Our banner is designed for all nations. Christ died for "all." He's coming for a glorious church "without spot or wrinkle."
"Love is the flag flown high from the castle of my heart, from the castle of my heart, from the castle of my heart; Love is the flag flown high from the castle of my heart, and the King is in residence there. So let if fly, let it fly, let the whole world know, let the whole world know, let the whole world know, let it fly, let it fly, let the whole world know, that the King is in residence there" (author unknown)." "We shall be one nation in Christ!" John 17.