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Are Your Ebenezers Raised?

In my life, there are many ebenezers.

No I’m not referring to Ebenezer Scrooge (though I do have my share of bah humbug days). What I am referencing goes back to a story in the book of 1 Samuel, chapter 7. 

The nation of Israel had been at war (again), and the people were hurt and tired. War brings not only unrest and loss, but weariness and discouragement, and this war was no different. The prophet Samuel, who was a judge over Israel, preached to the people and instructed the Israelites to remove all the foreign gods from the land and to turn their hearts wholeheartedly back to the Lord. So the people of Israel did exactly that. They “removed the Baals and the Ashtaroth (false gods) and served the Lord alone.” (1 Samuel 7:4)

Inevitably, the Philistine army rose up against Israel again, and when they did, the people of Israel were terrified. They ran and cried to Samuel, begging him to intercede to God on their behalf. So Samuel went before the Lord, and as he offered sacrifices the Philistine army came closer and closer. To the natural eye, it looked like Israel was about to take another heavy blow from their enemy, but something unexpected happened. 1 Samuel 7:10 says, “But the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines and confused them, so that they were routed before Israel.” As He had done many times in Israel's history, the Lord fought for Israel and completely delivered them from their enemy.

After the Philistines were defeated, the prophet Samuel took a great stone and raised it up as a visual reminder of the victory God had given to Israel in their time of trouble. Samuel set the great stone up and called it, Ebenezer, which means, stone of help, and said to the people, “The Lord has helped us this far.

It’s a great story, and there is a lesson for us in it. That lesson is, remember God’s track record of faithfulness.

It is easy for me to forget what God has done. Too often, I forget His provision in the past, His wisdom when I've needed it, and His comfort when I have been weary. The faithfulness of God has been penned on every page of my life, and yet when my eyes are on myself and the physical world around me, I develop a form of spiritual amnesia. This is why there are numerous instructions to remember the acts of God.

We see a pattern of memorializing God's faithfulness in Scripture. In Genesis 28, Jacob erected a pillar in Bethel to remember the blessing God had given him. In Joshua 4, under the instruction of Joshua, men from the 12 tribes of Israel removed boulders from the riverbed at Gilgal and raised a pillar of stones so future generations would learn about the God of miracles. Memorializing the kindness of the Lord increases our faith and proclaims His righteousness to those around us. We will be a spiritually forgetful people if we do not raise our own ebenezers and build our own pillars, telling others and reminding our own hearts what God has done through Christ.

All of us can look back and recall how the Lord has helped us; how He has provided, how He has comforted, how He has instructed, and ultimately - how He has redeemed. Each of us can call to mind a day that began with an overwhelming sense of defeat, and ended with overwhelming grace.

We have metaphoric stones of remembrance that point to the faithfulness of God, and for the sake of our faith, we need to raise them up.

See also: Deuteronomy 4:9; Deuteronomy 27:1-8; Joshua 24:24-28; Psalm 77: Psalm 103;


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