Just before you think that this is a post talking about the famous Dickens’ character Ebenezer Scrooge from his novel “A Christmas Carol”, I need to correct you. This in fact refers to a story in the Old Testament concerning a great man called Samuel. Samuel had been called by God at a very early age. He was born as a result of his mother’s prayers and placed into God’s hands because of a promise.
“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. And she made a vow, saying, “Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life…” (1 Sam ch 1 v 10 – 11)
In 1 Samuel ch 3 we can see he was called by God to be a prophet and as he grew older he was recognised as being the voice of God for the Children of Israel.
“The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord.” (1 Sam ch 3 v 19 – 20)
It wasn’t all blue skies and sunlight for Samuel. The Philistines were always a pain. The Philistines would attack and take cities from the Israelites. They would plunder the riches of Israel. They even took away the sacred Ark of the Covenant. The symbol of God’s presence with His chosen people. It really wasn’t easy for Samuel to lead but he kept His eyes on the One who called him.
So we come to Ebenezer. It’s not a person but a stone, a rock. Let me fill you in. After so many failures against the Philistines, Samuel and the Israelites began to see victory after victory. They even saw the return of the Ark of the Covenant. So Samuel decided that the time had come to put down a stone in gratitude to the God who had brought about the victories. He called it the rock, Ebenezer!
“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”” (1 Samuel ch 7 v12)
Eben -ezer is a Hebrew word and it means the stone of help. ““Thus far the LORD has helped us.”” It is a point of reference. Up to now God had brought them through. There would be more difficulties but if they could see what God had done, it would increase faith for further triumphs. I love the way the verse says that Samuel took the stone and set it up. He placed it. He put it down. The stone was just like any one you find any where. It wasn’t chiselled out of anything. No man had caused it’s formation. If it had had work done on it, then the rock would become an idol. No one had done anything to the rock. It was placed. It was never to be worshipped, it was just a reminder of God’s goodness.
This is what I love about the Bible. Here we have a story that is at least 3000 years old and yet it has relevance for Christians today. We need to take our rocks and place them, just to remind us of the goodness of God. All we do is place it. The triumph has come from God and not by our own doing.
I have more than one Ebenezer in my life. I will give you an example of two of them. I hope they are helpful. At the moment I have a ministry within Aged Care. I go to different facilities and I sing. I have made this one of my Ebenezers. Every time I sing I remember all the amazing blessings God has given me. I remember how God has taken hold of my life and given meaning to it. How He has worked in my life to allow me to sing.
Another Ebenezer I have is like a full stop. I placed it at the end of a season of struggle and turmoil. It was a period in my life when I lost hope. I couldn’t see light. I couldn’t even see the tunnel I was in it was so dark let alone the light at the end of it!!! But God had His hand on me and gave me a promise.
““Because the poor are plundered, because the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the LORD; “I will place him in the safety for which he longs.”” (Psalm 12 v 5 ESV)
God honoured that promise. It took months for me to see something happening but I know that from the point of the promise, God was in action. There were times when the situation seemed so hard but God reminded me of His promise. There were times when I was so angry with God that I was reminding Him of His promise. I can tell you this, that God is faithful. I am now in a place of security in God that I have never been before. I know His love for me. I placed the Ebenezer here. This one has become a bit of a wall even though it is only a rock. It is a before and after stone. The stone represents a new season, the next step or transition. That point reminds me of who God is to me. My Father, my Shepherd, my Deliverer, my Stronghold, my Love etc. I don’t need to go past that point. Who I was then is not who I am now. No going back because I now know of God’s hand on me.
I want you to start to place Ebenezers in your life. Whether it is in an area of your life that you do regularly. Something meaningful that when you do it you can remember all God has done for you. It might be a date or an event, that when you remember it you can see God’s hand in your life. It might be that you often fail over the same areas time and time again. Anger, lack of patience, pride, lust: you get the picture. Those areas are like the Philistines for Samuel. Always around causing havoc. Defeat after defeat. Then there started to be a couple of victories so immediately the rock is put in place. So when you start to see even the smallest of victories in an area, put the stone down. It will remind you that victories can happen. The stone is not a good luck charm that can guarantee that the defeat will go away for ever but we can thank God for His forgiveness, look at our Ebenezer and thank Him that the victory can happen again.
I can promise you that your Ebenezer will bring hope
“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Rom ch 5 v 5
Hope always brings Faith. Remember all that God has done for you. Remember how He loves you.
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11 v 1)
The exciting aspect of your Ebenezer is that it reminds you of what you have seen God do so how much greater will be your faith!!!!! Hallelujah!