Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ebenezer: Stone of Help

The words to the hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
Hither by thy help I’m come;
And I hope, by thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God’
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”  (I Samuel 7:12)

        God’s people, Israel had long been disobedient to the Lord by worshipping foreign gods since arriving in the Promised Land.  Their sin of idolatry again and again brought them into tremendous bondage and defeat by their enemies.  The Philistines won a great battle over the Israelites notwithstanding they even had the Ark of the Covenant (symbolic of the Lord’s presence [Psalm 99:1]) in the midst of the war camp!  The daughter-in-law of Eli, the overseer of the temple at Shiloh and Samuel’s predecessor, expressed the agony and horror of losing God’s presence at the end of the battle, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken.”  (I Samuel 4:22)

        For about 100 years the Ark remained at Kiriath-jearim (“city of forests”) after seven months of being held in enemy territory.  But only after 20 years at Kiriath-jearim, Israel began to lament the loss of God’s glory in their midst.  Prompted to repent by Samuel the prophet, God’s people were heirs to a great victory over their enemy when the Lord their God fought valiantly for them against the Philistines.  It was at this point that Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”  The stone became the witness, a memorial to the faithfulness of God to His people by conquering the enemy. 

        For us who live in the dispensation of grace, the stone of Ebenezer is Jesus Christ Himself.  His victory at Calvary helps us to realize that the Lord has helped us beyond measure despite that we were lost and unable to help ourselves.  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  (Romans 5:8)  Moreover, Jesus remains our Ebenezer through this life, for oftentimes we experience the power of the enemy, as well as defeats and disappointments that easily overwhelm and beset us.  We must frequently lay the stone of Ebenezer down as a memorial for what God has done in Christ, and what He will continue to do throughout this life.

        The true Ebenezer, the rock-solid Stone, Jesus Christ, the Son of God has fought mightily for His beloved.  The victory is ours!  The Bible says, “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”  (Colossians 2:15)  We memorialize Him today through worship in spirit and truth.  Praise His mighty Name!    

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