Within God’s covenant of love, the Bible, there is a wealth of spiritual blessing that lies untapped by much of the church. This well of blessing and meaning lies in the ancient Hebrew heritage that is ours to share by virtue of our adoption into God’s family, as we read in Romans 11:17&18. This ancient heritage is found in the Jewish roots of Christianity.
Some of our ancient heritage is outlined within God’s calendar; with days of rest, days of blessing and days of repentance and return. Some of this untapped blessing lay in the use of prophetic implements given by God to give focus to our faith and intercession. Many of the items used by our Hebrew brothers and sisters, such as the shofar, mezuzah, tallit, tzitzit, and many other items are tools of prayer, blessing, worship and weapons of spiritual warfare. Here are just a few:
The Shofar– The blowing of the ram’s horn (shofar in Hebrew) is used to usher in the biblical festivals of Israel, as a call to gather for solemn occasions and to inspire people to rally together for victory. The sounding of the shofar symbolizes freedom and liberty, is a reminder of the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, and is a sound of worship warfare that routs the enemy and brings down walls: Exodus 19:16-19, Numbers 10:8-10, Joshua 6:20. The shofar is most often made from a ram’s horn, but the horn of a sheep, goat or antelope can be used.
In the New Testament the sound of the shofar (trumpet) is associated with the second coming of Jesus. “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” 1 Thess. 4:16. “Listen, I tell you a mystery, we will not all sleep, but we will be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised… “1 Cor. 15:51,52.
The Tallit (Prayer Shawl) – A religious symbol, a garment, shroud, canopy, cloak which envelopes the Jew both physically and spiritually, in prayer and celebration, in joy and sorrow, Num. 15:37-41. It is used at all major Jewish occasions: at prayer, for circumcisions, holidays, weddings and burials.
In Biblical times Jewish men wore this garment all the time, not just at prayer. The apostle Paul was a Pharisee, but also a “tentmaker”. Because the Hebrew term for tent and tallit is the same, many scholars believe that he made Prayer Shawls, not tent structures as we know them. In the Old Testament six million Jews could not fit into the tent of meeting that was set up. Therefore, God gave each his own private sanctuary where they met with Him. It was an intimate, private space and time set apart from anyone else, totally focused upon God. This was their PRAYER CLOSET, Matthew 6:6!
Flags and Banners — The Bible has many references to “banners”, “standards” or “ensigns”. All three of these terms mean the same thing in scripture. When Moses and the Israelites were victorious over the Amalekites in Exodus 17, Moses calls God by a new name — Jehovah Nissi, which means “the Lord my banner”. Song of Solomon 2:4 tells us all that “His banner over me is love”.
Flags and banners are used in worship to exalt Jesus and the kingdom of God before men and before the powers of darkness. During worship flags proclaim the dominion of God’s kingdom and mark our spiritual territory. They are a declaration of our salvation, redemption, healing and the authority we have obtained in the heavens and on earth through the work of Christ. They may also serve to invite and usher in the presence of the Holy Spirit. In flag worship, the flag bearer is truly “raising the standard” of spiritual dominion and unity.
Flags are found in scripture:
* For warfare, in Psalm 74:4, Isaiah 31:9, Psalm 20:5 and Song of Songs 6:4
* As a rallying point in Isaiah 11:10
* As a proclamation, in Jeremiah 50:2, 4:6, 51:12, and Isaiah 62:10
The Menorah – One of the oldest symbols of the Jewish faith is the menorah, a seven-branched candelabrum used in the tabernacle, and then in the Temple Ex. 25:31-40. The priests lit the menorah in the Sanctuary every evening and cleaned it out every morning, replacing the wicks and putting fresh olive oil into the cups, an eloquent picture of our command to be filled continually, and to pray without ceasing, Matt 25:1-12, 1 Thess 5:17.
It has been said that the menorah is a symbol of the people of God and our mission to be “a light unto the nations” Isaiah 42:6. The sages emphasize that light is not a violent force; we are to accomplish our mission by shedding His light through our lives to the world around us. This idea is highlighted in the vision of Zechariah 4:1-6. Zechariah sees a menorah, and God explains: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit.”
Oil of Anointing – Oil has been used throughout Jewish history for prayer and anointing. It has been used for anointing priests and kings, buildings, implements and specific people for service, consecration, and blessing: Exodus 29:7, Exodus 40:9, 1 Samuel 16:13, Psalm 45:7. Anointing oil is traditionally made of pure olive oil, and may be scented with spices, resins, and plant extracts as the oil of the temple was, found in Exodus 30:23-25.
Anointing with oil is also a New Testament practice. In the New Testament oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. We find Jesus’ disciples anointing with oil in Mark 6:13. Anointing with oil is also found throughout the New Testament for the purposes of service, consecration, blessing and healing: Hebrews 1:9, James 5:14, 2 Cor. 1:21, 22.