A breathtaking image capturing a radiant sunrise with a majestic flag unfurling against a backdrop of dark storm clouds, symbolizing God's intervention and guidance amid challenging times.

What Does It Mean When God ‘Raises Up A Standard’?

In times of crisis or calamity, you may hear Christians say that God will ‘raise up a standard’ against the forces of evil. This unique expression comes from scripture, but what does it really mean?

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: When the Bible says God will ‘raise up a standard,’ it means He will intervene in a mighty way to deliver and protect His people in the face of an ominous threat or intense spiritual warfare.

In this in-depth article, we will explore the meaning of this phrase by looking at its biblical origins and how it has been understood throughout church history. We will also consider modern examples of when God may be said to ‘raise up a standard’ in the lives of believers today.

The Biblical Origins of ‘Raising Up a Standard’

Isaiah 59:19 – God as a warrior delivering Israel

In Isaiah 59:19, the prophet depicts God as a mighty warrior who will deliver the people of Israel from their enemies. This verse states that “when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.”

This imagery of God raising up a battle standard alludes to an ancient military tradition of lifting up a flag or banner on a pole to direct and rally the troops (think of battle scenes in movies depicting soldiers gathering around a fluttering flag).

So in this verse, Isaiah presents Yahweh rallying to Israel’s defense and vanquishing her foes.

Isaiah 62:10 – Lifting a banner to gather the exiles

Isaiah 62:10 also uses banner/standard imagery, but in a different context. Here the prophet portrays God lifting up a signal to summon the exiled Israelites back to their homeland. The verse urges, “Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a standard for the peoples.”

As opposed to depicting God warring against enemies, this text shows God beckoning the displaced chosen people to return to Jerusalem.

Jeremiah 4:6; 51:12,27 – God raising a standard against Israel’s enemies

Like Isaiah 59:19’s warrior motif, the Book of Jeremiah also shows God raising up a standard in judgment against foreign nations. Jeremiah warns of a coming invasion from the north, saying “I am bringing disaster from the north, and great destruction” (Jeremiah 4:6 ESV).

Yet even in this calamity, the prophet reassures that God has power over Israel’s enemies: “A lion has gone up from his thicket, a destroyer of nations has set out; he has gone out from his place to make your land a waste; your cities will be ruins without inhabitant” (v.7).

This “lion” is the Lord waging war against foreign powers through the Babylonian invaders. Jeremiah 51 depicts God’s judgment on Babylon itself, saying He will “raise up a standard against Babylon’s walls and make bare their foundations” (v. 25).

Historical Christian Understandings of This Phrase

Victory in spiritual warfare against sin and Satan

Throughout church history, Christians have viewed God “raising up a standard” as giving them victory in spiritual battles against sin, temptation, and the schemes of Satan (Ephesians 6:10-18). When believers feel overwhelmed and unable to resist sin’s power in their lives, God can sovereignly intervene by raising up preachers, movements, or means of grace to strengthen His people for warfare against evil (Isaiah 59:19).

Church fathers like Augustine spoke of how God raised up saints and sound doctrine to combat widespread heresy and false teaching. Later Protestant reformers like Martin Luther believed their rediscovery of justification by faith alone was God raising a standard against a corrupt medieval church system.

In times of moral decline, revivals were seen as God raising up evangelists like Jonathan Edwards or Charles Finney to turn people back to God. Whenever Christians obtain victory over sin due to God’s gracious provision, whether individually or corporately, it is ultimately because God has raised up a standard in their midst.

God’s deliverance and protection in times of trial or persecution

Another traditional understanding was that God raises a standard during times of hardship, persecution, or oppression of His people. A standard referred to a banner or flag carried by an army – so God raising His standard provided deliverance and protection for those who trusted in Him (Psalm 20:5).

Early Christians enduring Roman persecution spoke of the courage and resilience God gave martyrs before death as His raised standard. During the Reformation, many Reformers saw their preservation from Catholic authorities trying to suppress their movement as God shielding them.

Puritans believed God raised up leaders like Oliver Cromwell to protect them against religious oppression. Chinese Christians have viewed deliverances like the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 as God raising up a standard when persecution intensified.

Even today, Christians in restricted nations see God’s hand when pressure lets up unexpectedly, allowing the church to advance rather than be stamped out.

Ancient Christianity Martyrdom during Roman persecutions
Reformation Era Preservation from suppression by Catholic authorities
17th century England Cromwell protecting Puritans against oppression
20th century China Deliverance in the Boxer Rebellion

When God raises up unexpected means of deliverance for His people, it is recognized as Him setting a protective standard against forces of evil or adversity.

Revival and awakening within the church

A final traditional view was that God raises up a standard during times of spiritual decline or complacency in the church, often through unexpected revivalists and reformers. Well-known examples include the Wesleyan revival in 18th century England through the preaching of John Wesley, the Second Great Awakening in America in the early 1800s pioneered by Charles Finney, or the Welch Revival in the early 1900s under Evan Roberts’ leadership.

In these movements, though the established church was stagnant, God raised up new voices and spiritual renewal spread like wildfire through the common people (Isaiah 49:22). It produced passion for evangelism, renewed godliness and morality in society, and a recovery of vital Christianity often missing among official religious leadership.

Throughout history, when the status quo in the church grew lukewarm and ineffective, God has raised up prophetic voices and spiritual renewal from unexpected sources within the body of Christ.

Some scholars also apply this phrase to God raising up a military deliverer for Israel in the Old Testament, such as Gideon’s victory over the Midianites through an unexpectedly small army (Judges 7).

The emphasis is still on God surprising His people with an unusual means of deliverance in their time of need.

Modern Examples of God ‘Raising Up a Standard’

Deliverance from addiction, depression, or despair

Many people have shared testimonies of God delivering them from addictions to drugs, alcohol, pornography, and other vices (1). Through developing a personal relationship with Christ, receiving support from faith communities, and accessing faith-based recovery programs, people have found the strength and hope needed to overcome despair and destructive habits.

For example, Cru and Celebrate Recovery run Christ-centered addiction recovery programs that have helped countless individuals. A 2022 study found participants in faith-based programs had higher rates of maintaining long-term sobriety compared to other options.

Strength to endure a health crisis or tragic loss

Even in the darkest valleys of personal trauma, grievous illness, or loss of a loved one, God can raise up His standard as a shelter of comfort and peace (Psalm 23:4). Through divine power, believers can discover renewed strength, hope, and even joy in suffering.

For instance, the family of Pastor Ed Dobson shared how God upheld them through Ed’s 15-year battle with ALS. When the worst storms of life crash around us, God promises to be our anchor so we will not be shaken (Psalm 125:1).

Protection from spiritual deception and apostasy

Several verses describe God’s standard raised up as a warning, guide, or shield against straying into deception, heresy, or apostasy (Isaiah 59:19, Jeremiah 6:1). Attacks against biblical truth and morality rage today; still, God faithfully helps protect His people.

Through discernment and enlightenment from the Holy Spirit, believers can resist drifting from sound doctrine. Resources like GotQuestions.org also help clarify biblical truth on contemporary ideological battles.

Courage to take a stand for Christ and biblical values

This world desperately needs more courageous Christians willing to champion biblical truth and righteousness. But facing ridicule or persecution for one’s faith can be intimidating without God’s emboldening.

Yet time after time, God infuses timid believers with holy courage to confront injustice, shine light into darkness, contend for the faith, or share the Gospel despite opposition (Acts 4:29, 31). May we seek His standard of boldness in our day.


When we say God will ‘raise up a standard,’ we’re drawing on a rich biblical metaphor of God as a warrior unfurling a victorious battle flag over His people. While rooted in ancient history, this concept still rings true today as believers cling to God’s promises to protect, deliver, and revive.

By understanding the full meaning behind this phrase, we can have confidence that no matter the crisis, God remains sovereign. When we feel overwhelmed in spiritual warfare or life’s storms, we can trust the Lord will lift high His standard and lead us to triumph.

Similar Posts