Posted by: Mike Willoughby | April 27, 2010

Funny name, serious concept!


Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.” I Samuel 7:12

The funny word, Ebenezer, in this verse is actually a proper name referring to the stone Samuel set up to commemorate God’s faithfulness to deliver his people from Philistine attack in I Samuel 7.  The Hebrew name Ebenezer is formed from two Hebrew words, Even (stone) and Haazer (help) pronounced together.  Ebenezer literally means, “stone of help.” 

Samuel set Ebenezer up in an area where twenty years earlier, the Philistines had defeated the Israelites and stolen the Ark of the Covenant.  Although God delivered the Ark back to the Israelites, they refused to commit themselves completely to God and they allowed worship of foreign gods and idols to take place in Canaan.  That twenty year period was dark and depressing for the people because of their bad behavior.  However, Samuel challenged God’s people to return to God and abandon the idols.  The Israelites followed Samuel’s leadership, purging the land of Baal worship and God delivered them from the Philistines. 

Ebenezer was there to remind all who passed by that God had accepted his people back even though they had rebelled against him and become God’s enemies.  God forgave their sins, delivered them from their enemies and restored them to a place of privilege.  God was faithful to his promises even though his people were unfaithful.

I have my own “stone of help” that reminds me of God’s faithfulness to deliver me from my enemy even though I was once his enemy.  Romans 5:8-10 reads:

“…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” 

I have a cross hanging from my review mirror that reminds me of my reconciliation every time I glance at the mirror.  The little cross is fashioned from nails welded together in reference to his sacrifice on the cross.  It is not there as a sign for others.  It is a sign for me.  It is my Ebenezer.

You may have grown up singing the hymn, O Thou Fount of Every Blessing which includes a second verse with these words:

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by thy help I’ve come;
And I hope by thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home;
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wand’ring from the fold of God;
He to rescue me from danger interposed His precious blood.

Thank you, Lord for your precious blood that rescued me from danger.  You are my “stone of help.”  Help me never to forget.

Until next week,

Meet me at the intersection!

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