God has helped you to this point. Trust Him to continue doing so
I remember that as a young lad, we often competed against a school outside of our immediate area, called Ebenaezer, (in Hebrew אֶבֶן הָעֵזֶר transliterated as Eben Haezer or “stone of help”). I did not understand the meaning of the name at the time. Years later, as a believer, I started studying the Word of God, and I came across the word again, tucked away deep in the Old Testament, as recorded in 1 Samuel.
When we read the context, starting in chapter four, we come to understand that the Israelites had been battling the Philistines for a long time and lost twice (1 Samuel 4:2 and 1 Samuel 4:10). The second time, the Ark of the Covenant was captured. We read that at hearing that Israel had been slain, the ark taken, and his sons killed, the priest Eli, and old man already, fell backwards on his chair, broke his neck, and died (1 Samuel 4:18). After being moved around several times, with bad luck following the Philistines wherever they took the ark (1 Samuel 5), they decided to return it to the Israelites (1 Samuel 5:10). Here is a lesson: do not mess around with God’s holiness. The ark was a symbol of the holy presence of God:
2And David arose, and went with all the people that were with him from Baale of Judah, to bring up from thence the ark of God, whose name is called by the name of the LORD of hosts that dwelleth between the cherubims. – 2 Samuel 6:2
Even though the ark had been returned to them, the Israelites were still under God’s judgement because of their sins and were still suffering the affliction of the Philistines. Samuel warned them that this would continue unless they confessed their sins (1 Samuel 7:3). When the Philistines confronted them again, God intervened, and the Philistines were defeated. The result was that Samuel built an altar to commemorate the event:
9And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him. 10And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel. 11And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar. 12Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us. – 1 Samuel 7:9-12
From this day forward, Israel was no longer harassed by the Philistines. Ebenezer was now not just a place anymore, but an altar, commemorating the fact that God had intervened and saved His nation. It was also a reminder to them how God came through for them in times of need. Samuel boldly states that to this point God had helped Israel. “Ebenezer” means “stone of help”. Originally the name signified the place where they suffered defeat. Now it takes on a new meaning and becomes their beacon of hope.
How can we apply this event to our lives? Have you ever been in a situation that seemed impossible to you, and you thought there was no hope, only for a miracle to occur and save the day? This was no coincidence. Rather, it represents God intervening to help you. In fact, He has always been there, even through your time of sin, which probably led to the predicament your found yourself in. He never left your side for one minute.
Maybe you should consider the many times He has come through for you. In a spiritual sense, this is a great opportunity to look back on your life and recognise the many times He helped you when you were in dire straits. Each time He came through for you, note the date, place, and incident, and place a stone (in the spiritual sense) there to remind you that at these points God was with you. Make them milestones in your life and there will be a clear pattern that He has never let you down. Samuel said that up to this point the Lord helped Israel, and He will continue to do so in future, if we remain in Him.
When I look back at my life, I can clearly see the many times help came when I was in a difficult spot. Had I been more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit at the time, I would have immediately recognised God’s intervention and holy presence in each situation. The problem is that we often take His goodness for granted.
Jesus told his disciples the following:
7If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. – John 15:7
If we remain faithful to his Word, He will come through for us. In this way, you will glorify Him. Jesus is our rock, our stone:
6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. – 1 Peter 2:6
He is the foundation of the Church, and in Him we have our existence. As you can see, the word “stone” occurs several times. God can be the stone that will crush you:
44And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder. – Matthew 21:44
He can also be the stone (rock) on which you base your faith and life, and save you:
24Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. – Matthew 7:24-25
This week, try to look back on your life and take stock of the goodness of God and the times He intervened. When you were in the valley, He was there. He put you right back on the mountain and you could rejoice. How many stones of commemoration can you identify?