Erecting Memorial Stones to Remind Us of God’s Help
Reading the above title may remind you of Ebenezer Scrooge, the fictional character from Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol.
The Ebenezer of this article is not the miserly protagonist, but rather the name of a large stone. That’s right, Samuel the prophet, named a rock. In Hebrew ‘eḇen= stone and ʿēzer=help.
You can read the story in I Samuel 7:10-12;
While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar.
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.”
Samuel erected a large stone and named it Stone of Help to commemorate the supernatural victory which God won for the Israelites. The exact location is significant because this was the spot where they had previously been defeated. Yet, in this sacrosanct instance the place is redeemed as well as the people’s faith in their God who helps them.
They witnessed a win so epic that Samuel wanted subsequent generations to remember and worship the One True God of Israel. God knows that our memories are short, and our grudges are long. We need reminders!
A physical reminder like this, strategically placed, served as a memorial for generations to come. It would have beckoned their offspring into questioning which would lead into the divine narrative of God. The Stone of Help points to this truth – IF GOD DID IT BEFORE, HE CAN DO IT AGAIN.
Old Hymn Lyrics, New Understanding
I grew up in a church which sang old hymns. I prefer the new worship songs of today, for there are many alive who are anointed musicians and songwriters. But the older I get, the more I have to admit that those historic hymns have a literary and theological richness which is invaluable and absent in most modern worship songs.
As a child I’d sing the lyrics of Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing by Robert Robinson from 1758, and I’d wonder what it meant. My little brain was always turning toward Ebenezer Scrooge, creating a confusing mental image. In the car after church, other questions arose but never the Ebenezer one.
Here are half of the lyrics.
Come Thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love
Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here by Thy great help I’ve 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
Make a Statement
“Here I raise my Ebenezer!” Now I get it. Here in the place of my former defeat, I raise a Stone of Help as a demonstration, both in the physical and spiritual realms, that there is hope. There is always hope with God.
Wherever you have experienced defeat in your own strength, in that place, God will bring a great victory, if you surrender to His strength. That’s why the enemy was trying to defeat you there. God is glorified the most in these vulnerable places where we can either be tormented and condemned for a failure, or where we can look up and trust God, and then experience victory. Just before these victories we usually experience great temptation to give up.
You can pray, “YOU, LORD, ARE MY ROCK OF HELP. YOU’VE HELPED ME OUT BEFORE, AND YOU’LL DO IT AGAIN! I TRUST IN YOU! COME, JESUS.”
What Is Your Ebenezer?
An Ebenezer can be anything which we intentionally place in our lives as a reminder of God’s good work in our lives. It can be a painting, a rock, a journal (as long as you look back on it), a place, a scripture, a note scribbled in the margin of your Bible… anything. It’s meant to be noticed. It beckons a story to be told, and retold.
After Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, the Holy Spirit fell during Pentecost and the Apostle Peter preached in Jerusalem to thousands. In Acts 4:11-12 he proclaimed:
“‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
A cornerstone is the basis for all else. Nothing stands with it, and seeing a cross reminds us that HE IS OUR ROCK. He is our unwavering, unfaltering, beautiful, sturdy place of victory. He paid the ultimate price to be our Ebenezer for all time. He fought the powers of darkness and won the victory on our behalf!
Make an Ebenezer
The most significant Ebenezer we create are our recorded testimonies. Written, typed, video-taped, published, whatever. Ask yourself, have I ever recorded any of my God-stories?
My friend, Michelle, has been very brave to let me film part of her testimony and share it. Please watch her raise her Ebenezer, subscribe and share!
Check out my YouTube channel for some more amazing testimonies and record your own to share with the world.
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