Raising an Ebenezer

When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines.  They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.”  Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.

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.”

So the Philistines were subdued and they stopped invading Israel’s territory. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines.  The towns from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had captured from Israel were restored to Israel, and Israel delivered the neighboring territory from the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.

  • 1 Samuel 7:7-14

“A legendary basketball star uses code names for his closest friends. Harmony, Butler, and Vernon are examples. But the code name he uses for himself is surprising…and disturbing. He answers to Yahweh, one of the Hebrew words for God’s covenantal, personal name.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

  • Psalm 8:1

“There is only one Yahweh. God, who made all things, is the only One worthy of the name that is the most majestic in all the Earth.  Psalm 8, while short, is filled with the pure adoration of God by King David. He marvels at God’s glory in the heavens, in children, and even in his enemies. David didn’t have the Hubble telescope to reveal to him so many of the wonders of space that people of today have seen; nor did he have the electron microscopes that allow scientists to see even the shadow of an atom. Yet, through what he did observe, he was quick to acknowledge that the same God who created such magnificence could care for mankind. And not only to care, but to extol him, sharing a small part of His own majesty.

“When was the last time you marveled at the wonders of the creation God has set around you?  Have you thanked Him for putting you right in the middle between the greatest and the least of things? Make today a time when you quiet your heart and mind, and reflect on how majestic the Lord is.”

  • Presidential Prayer Team Devotion

I read the devotion quoted above this past week and thought it might be used for something, but then our pastor preached a wonderful sermon on raising one’s Ebenezer.  I saw a connection.  An Ebenezer means “a rock of help.’  God helped His chosen people against the Philistines, and a memorial was established, an Ebenezer, as mentioned in the Scripture above.

The pastor’s focus was that we have many Ebenezers in our lives (not counting the given name of a certain Scrooge), reminders that God has done something wonderful for us.  God has helped us.  We each have the cross, but on a personal level, there may be a variety of things that could spark memories.  Many use highlighters in their Bibles or underline passages.  I sat next to a guy who wrote notes in the margins of his Bible.  I saw no room for any more notes on any of the pages.  The pastor mentioned mementos in his office that brought back memories and especially photographs.  I mentioned my lost rock collection two days ago that had reminders of where we had traveled and lived.  God’s hand was in each of those journeys.

We have our moments in life when we have an abundance of self-esteem, a bit too much at times.  We think that we can do anything that we put our minds to do.  But it is the rare mania that says that I am God, Almighty, as the devotion above suggests.  We may think that we are masters of ourselves.  Even that is a grave error.  Giving up that idea and the control of our life to Jesus is important for our journey of faith to start.  Otherwise, we are still having faith in ourselves.

While we need to keep our eyes on Jesus as we take a walk along our journey of faith, we can use these physical reminders of how Jesus is still at work in our lives to spur us on and renew our focus as we keep our eyes on Jesus.

It is absurd that we could ever think that we could do it on our own, but far too many try.  We may have all had our moments.  Only through Jesus can we be successful, and once on the right path, the path of Jesus, there will be an abundance of reminders that He is with us and we owe our progress all to Him.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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