Wednesday in the Word: Raising Ebenezer

No, not Scrooge. First of all, he’s a character. Even if I could raise people from the dead, his fictional status would render him ineligible for the miracle.

I told you I’ve been plunking away on the piano again. I’m learning “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. I love that song. It has a sound I enjoy, and the words have depth.

Raising an Ebenezer is an idea mentioned in the lyrics. It’s not a term we use very often. Really, the only times I hear it used are in reference to Charles Dickens, in this song, and on the rare occasion a pastor or Bible teacher uses it in a lesson. It’s a shame, because it’s such an important word.

1 Samuel 7:1-14 gives us the meaning. I’ll give you the quick version. The people of Israel had not been following God. Big shock. The Philistines were coming against them. The people did what they always did when their ways brought an enemy to their doorstep. They cried out to God. Samuel told the people to repent, tear down their idols, and return to their God with all their hearts. If the people did this, God would deliver them. The people did as instructed. God saved them from the Philistines. Samuel set up the stone and called it Ebenezer, meaning “‘Thus far the LORD has helped us.'”

It wasn’t the first time or the last that stones would be placed in remembrance of something God had done for His people. When God moved, the people often commemorated it with a physical way to remember. Stones and feasts were among the favored ways to call God’s goodness to memory.

This stone was to remember God as the helper, as one who delivered the people from an impossible enemy. Think of how clearly the story would be passed from generation to generation every time someone passed that stone. Children would beg parents to tell them “just once more” how God saved His people from the Philistines.

These stones did more than tell future generations what happened in their history. But they did so much more. Reminders provided perspective, encouragement, and strength for the next battle.

They do the same today.

How many times does silence greet us in services and small groups when someone asks how God blessed the participants through the week? We know God blesses us. Every day we are blessed. He comes through for us in so many situations, yet we find ourselves at a loss.

We, like the people of Israel, need to mark the things God does for us. It’s not so we can relive the glory days. God’s mercies are new every morning, and while we celebrate the past, we have to be careful to live in the present.

We remember it so we can pass on to our children and their children the truth of who God is to us. Seeing how God has worked in the lives of those we love can be a powerful thing.

Remembering can also give us new perspective. We see how God has worked before, and we know He is capable of working again. There is no need for despair as hope blooms. Peace is ours in place of worry as we remember all the times God has previously fought for us. With this new light at the end of the tunnel, we can keep moving forward with strength rather than trudging through the muck.

Most of my Ebenezers are in the form of notes I’ve written in the front of my Bible. They detail what situation God dealt with and how He did it. Sometimes a song or a book becomes the way I remember. It could be a picture or a piece of jewelry. The what doesn’t matter. Whatever means the most to you to help you remember can become your Ebenezer.

Choose to remember. Raise your Ebenezar high in praise to God for what He’s already done. Find what you need to face today’s battles as you look back and say, “‘Thus far the LORD has helped us.'”

Do you have any Ebenezers in your life?

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