This word has been in my head for weeks now. Not sure why. I find myself humming the hymn Come Thou Fount and in the last couple days I have seen various social media posts using that word? Weird, right?
The idea of the Ebenezer comes in Scripture from I Samuel 7. The chapter opens with Samuel calling the Israelites to a higher level of worship. They are mourning over the fact that the ark is not in their midst, even though it is safe and sound and being well-cared for. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a bit of ark worship going on; not the God who designed the ark and who would meet with the people above the ark, but the physical ark. Had they turned the ark into an idol of sorts, and so God saw fit to have it reside in Kiriath Jearim for some time rather than at the place of worship in Shiloh?
Samuel tells the people they are to RID themselves of the foreign gods and Ashtoreths (a pole to represent the goddess of love) and to serve him only. The next verse tells us they PUT AWAY everything. I was struck by how it didn’t say they GOT RID of it all?? When we are asked to get rid of something it doesn’t mean to tuck it away in a closet for easy future access.
Samuel led the people in a day of fasting and dedication; and the Philistines began to sneak up on them even during this solemn day. Once made aware, Samuel led the nation in sacrificing and prayer, asking the Lord to fight on their behalf. The Scripture says the Lord thundered with LOUD THUNDER and threw the Philistines into a panic. The Israelites took off after the retreating Philistines and killed many of them.
In honor of this answer to prayer, Samuel found a stone and set it up, and named it Ebenezer. At first that seems so odd. Who names a rock? Ebenezer means stone of help. Again,weird, right? What did that stone do to be of any help?
Samuel’s first inclination after the victory over the Philistines was to make a visible memorial to the Lord. Something that would cause remembrance of God’s part in the victory every time it was seen. I was reminded as I read through some preceding chapters and post chapters that the town where Israel had camped their army way back in chapter 4 was called Ebenezer. They were about to face off with the Philistines. Long story short: they lost twice, tens of thousands of men were killed, and the ark was captured by the enemy. So the stone was given the same name as the horrible city that had seen so much bloodshed and death at the hands of the Philistines. The city, named Ebenezer, hadn’t experienced my of God’s help?
I keep thinking of that without any revelation coming to mind.
In my mind the stone was huge, because it was SET UP between two cities. Maybe just along the roadside so that every time the people walked from Mizpah to Shen they saw it. And this memorial must have blessed God because he prevented the Philistines from being a bother to the Israelites for the rest of Samuel’s time as judge.
So the opening line of the second verse of “Come thou Fount” begins by reminding us that the Ebenezer was raised because God had been of great help. And He continues to be of great help. Sometimes people mention creating their own Ebenezer in the here and now, as a way to visibly remind them day in and day out of what God did in the past.
I forget. It is hard for me to remember what care God crafted over me in the past. And the remembering is what will make me see the potential He possesses for future care, because He is a God who never changes.
So I want to remember the God-gifts in my past; remind myself that He postures himself for my good now, just as he did then. But it is a daily/hourly/minute-by-minute struggle to focus on the fact that it is HIS concept of good, not mine.
I had access to a pretty sizable boulder the other day. I thought about hauling it home, washing it off, and inking onto its surface the things I need to remember. Creating my own stone of help; a visible thing to look to when I need reminded that God is good and has my good in mind.
For me, inking a stone of condemnation would be so much more satisfying; writing all the ways in which I have failed God, failed to remember. Giving action to all the thoughts in my brain that swirl as a reminder that I am so unable. And once the stone is nicely inked, I would have to pour red paint over the entire thing, representing Christ’s blood, and scrape into the drying paint the words YOU ARE LOVED. Because God is love, He cannot operate out of any character trait but that. I have a hard time with that. Love is not my go-to course of action. But for God it is.
And because of that love, I can ink my boulder with so many proofs of His unfaltering care of me and my little corner of the world.
So I will set up my Ebenezer. I will journal all the things needing remembered in my life; places threatening to be forgotten. I have asked God for help and direction, as He has already begun to show me where I have nearly forgotten some things. Things where His help was poured out abundantly before I had even given Him my heart. Things that make it so obvious that I would be saved FOR something.
Yes, God is my help. Past, present and future. And I honor Him with remembrance. I have prayed for insight into an actual Ebenezer, a rock. It will be fun to see what God brings about.Maybe pages of a journal are enough. Or maybe there will be more. I just know it needs to be LARGE, cuz God has helped me A LOT.