In today’s passage prophet Samuel took a stone and set it between Mitzpah and Shen and named it Ebenezer. Eben means stone, Ezer means help. Ebenezer means the stone of help. There are many things in our lives that we have no control over. The only one who knows our future, the only one with the control and whom we can trust is our God.
The Israelites were helpless and felt they were not in control. That is when God came to help them. For many years, the Philistines had been attacking Israel. When the Israelites felt they were in peace, there comes another attack. They felt unstable in their lives, which affected their livelihoods and their lives of faith. The prophet Samuel said: “I will pray for you, come, let us gather in Mitzpah and ask the Lord to help us”.
The Philistines had taken away the ark of the covenant. For the Israelites, the ark of the covenant represented the presence of God. Without the ark of the covenant, they felt like they are worshipping in a temple without God’s presence. Because of the many troubles in our lives, Satan, just like the Philistines attacks us once in a while just when we are getting stable in our faith. Ebenezer means “God You have helped us thus far”. That is the blessing and grace of Ebenezer. May we have the grace of Ebenezer, rather than bringing the worries of tomorrow and be burdened by it, let us instead put it off and confess “God thank you for today”.
Prophet Samuel says: “Come gather, let us worship God. Throw away your idols, Ashteroths, repent before God, and fast. I will pray for you”. They were offering up worship services to God, and the Philistines heard the Israelites were gathering together in one place so it was a great opportunity to destroy Israel. So the Philistines came after them. Prophet Samuel said: “You guys continue to cry out to the Lord, continue to worship”.
God does His work in the most amazing and mysterious ways. The rolling of the thunder was the greatness of God. God gave the thunder to confuse the Philistines. May that blessing of God’s thunder be given to us. The word “to confuse” is hamam (הָמַם) in Hebrew, it means to rumble over, crush and agitate (1 Samuel 7:10). Our worship will agitate Satan. Our worship and prayers will shake up the Hades, darkness and forces of the devil. God confused and agitated them, they heard the thunder of the Lord, got confused and were killing each other.
That is why Prophet Samuel put up this stone: Ebenezer – saying thus far the Lord has helped us. If God’s Ebenezer is with us, He will cast out Satan’s attacks, He will destroy, confuse Satan’s schemes. There are many problems, sicknesses and worries. Let us stop for a moment and set up Ebenezer, and say: “God thank You, You have helped us thus far. Tomorrow is in Your hands.” The concept of Ebenezer is that upon the thanksgiving of today, tomorrow is built. Ebenezer represents Jesus who is our rock (1 Peter 2:4, Isaiah 28:16).
(1) The stones of help in the Bible. All these stones foreshadow and point at Jesus Christ:
1. Stone of Bethel (Genesis 28:10-22)
Jacob was running away from Esau from his father’s house. At Luz, he found a stone and used it as a pillow. He had a dream, of a ladder connecting heaven and earth, angels going up and down. He heard the voice of God saying: “Jacob wherever you go I will be with you, I will make sure you will come back to your Father’s house.” It is a blessing of returning to the Father’s house. When he woke up, he said, this is none other than the house of God. He has his head upon the stone. May we put our philosophies, direction, our thoughts be upon the Stone of Jesus Christ (Genesis 28:22).
Jacob confessed, that this stone which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house. Jacob has set up a determination, commitment, dedication to God upon that rock. The cross is what connects us to heaven. May that Stone that opens up heaven be upon your life, may you put your head upon that stone.
2. Stones and rocks in the wilderness
• The Rock that provided water at Rephidim (Exodus 17:6)
• The Rock that provided water at Kades (Numbers 8:11, Psalm 78:15)
• Apostle Paul speaks of that spiritual Rock as Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4)
May our life, spirit and soul not thirst because we have the rock of Jesus Christ that provides the water of eternal life for us.
3. 12 stones of the Jordan River (John 4:1-9)
When Joshua crossed the Jordan River, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant had to stand in the midst of the Jordan River until everyone crossed, so the water will not overwhelm them. Where their feet stood, Joshua instructed them to keep 12 stones to commemorate that.
There are 2 types of water:
• The water of life that Jesus gives.
• The water of the sea/river that can overwhelm us. The gushing water of sin, that can drown us.
But the Stone reminds us that God will stop that water from overwhelming us. Satan seeks every opportunity to swallow us. May this blessing of God stopping that water be upon us.
4. Stone of David (1 Samuel 17:45-51)
David was fighting in the name of the Lord not depending on javelins or swords, and God allowed him to use that stone. All he needed was one stone to destroy Goliath.
5. A stone that is cut out without hands (Daniel 2:32-35, Daniel 2:44)
The statue had parts that represented the kingdoms that will rule over the world. In the end, this is a Stone that became the foundation of God’s eternal kingdom. The Stone represents Jesus Christ that will destroy the powers and forces of the beast in the end times. These stones that we see in the Old Testament, all foreshadow Jesus, His protection, help, providence and establishment of His kingdom. If God is with us, there is no one who can stand against us. Apostle Paul said in the wilderness, the stone followed them (1 Corinthians 10:4)
May this Stone of Ebenezer follow you.
(2) Who are the people who received the blessing of Ebenezer?
1. Those who have uprooted their own fleshly thoughts
In Romans 8:5-8, Apostle Paul goes on to give us a short dissertation about the thoughts of the flesh vs the thoughts of the spirit (Romans 8:5-8). The thoughts of the flesh will lead us to death, the thoughts of the spirit will lead us to eternal life. Jesus says you shall not live by bread alone but by the Word that comes from God’s mouth (Matthew 4:3-4). Jesus is interpreting the stone as the Word of God. When we receive the Word of God, we have this automatic conversion in our minds to refer to physical things. This is a stone cut out without hands, a spiritual stone. We should not turn the Word of God and blessing of God into just money. The prophet Samuel told the Israelites “Throw away all your idols, Ashteroth, repent and fast before the Lord.” Those who came and did that experienced the blessing of Ebenezer.
2. Those with the fervency to seek for the Word, the ark of the covenant and gather to worship God
Gathering to worship will cause agitation and shaking in Satan’s world. That is how important, how precious God sees the gathering of His people to worship. The Israelites followed prophet Samuel’s instruction for the recovery of the ark. The recovery of the ark of the covenant is the recovery of God’s presence (1 Samuel 7:3-5).
Even while they were repenting and worshipping God, Satan still attacked them via the Philistines. If we are not shaken up by the darkness, God will shake them up. Those who put away things that God does not like, but instead seek for Him, and repent, there will be an amazing work this year.
May our every day be Ebenezer by praying with faith, and seeking God daily (1 Peter 2:6-8). Those who know the preciousness of this stone will take hold of it, which will become a rock of foundation (Matthew 6:34). Ebenezer, God has saved me and helped me thus far. We are people of God confessing that we are children of God, we give thanks to God and we live by His grace. Let us remember that every day, Ebenezer. By the grace of God, I am still here.