The Ebenezer


In 1 Samuel 7:12, Samuel the prophet set up a stone and named it “Ebenezer” between Mizpah and Shen. The name means a, “Stone of help.” It was a visual reminder of God’s faithfulness to Israel. Each time those who knew what it meant passed by it they could see it and be reminded, perhaps even transported back to the day they planted it like a song, to recall some work of God. Samuel is not at all the only one who did this in Scripture. In 1757, Robert Robinson referenced the same idea in light of his own life in his beloved hymn Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing. There have always been doubters of God. Some doubt His identity as revealed in Holy Scripture. Some doubt His warnings of judgment. Others doubt His grace on Calvary. A few are even so blind that they doubt His very existence. All of the above are such who’ve never obeyed Him. They have never obeyed the gospel command found in places like Acts 17:30. If they’d ever done so then they too would know God rightly (cf. John 14:21). It is only the faithful who truly have an Ebenezer.

     We are called to obedience. Everything in life that’s wrong in existence as we know it, at its very core, is a result of someone, somewhere not doing something God’s way. Adam and Eve are of course the primary example. There are many other examples I could mention as illustration. We could relate the blight of homosexuality and its acceptance in our culture today to our disapproval of God’s standard of marriage. We don’t do it God’s way-He removes His wisdom from us-and now suddenly many truly think it’s ok to be homosexual. Even disease itself is a result of sin. We can see by nature that a virgin husband and wife can have sex a hundred thousand times and stand a zero percent chance of catching an STD while the world writhes and wastes away covered in the scabbing results of not waiting until marriage for such sacred activity with a near one in three chance of catching such a disease. Why does the world never learn? It’s because they are not obedient.

     All believers have learned in life from both their “successes” in the faith, and from their failures. This is intended by God. A successful older gentleman was once asked by a young protégé how he’d become so successful. The older man replied, “By making good decisions.” The young man then asked, “And how does one make good decisions?” He said, “By experience.” “How do I gain this experience, sir?” he asked. The older man replied, “By making bad decisions.” No one’s talking about perfectly obedient living here. That’s not God’s design for us in this life. We will sin. He knows our frame full well. What is designed for the believer is a growth, not just in obedient acts, but in the love of obedience. Obedience brings joy. It brings direction and in its wake it ultimately brings eternal life.

     The word “Obedience” shows up everywhere in the Bible. Notice next how Peter speaks of it as that to which all the pilgrims were called. “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ…” 1 Peter 1:1-2a. [Emphasis mine].

     Why God’s interested in us is truly, truly beyond me, but He is. I suspect wholeheartedly that the true inner-workings of why God’s interested in man will/can only be revealed when we’re perfected in the next life. Meanwhile, our lives now are supposed to be living reminders of what obedience brings. Our lives are to demonstrate God’s life in us. We are being tuned if you will. Tuned like instruments unto a beautiful sound together. The composer, like the very stars that sing, has arrayed His jewels like so many chords in a heavenly choir. We are being put in place and the song we’ll one day sing will flood our hearts with a pure emotion unlike all the joys of earth put together throughout all the ages could ever embody. We’ll magnify God, and He’ll draw near until we can see our reflection in His eyes. We’ll behold our joy, and our obediences in this life, faulty though they were, will endear us to our master like flowers to the sun. We will remember our Ebenezers. 

     Can you raise an Ebenezer? Are you growing in life through obedience? Will your gravestone cover a person who showed others God? Obedience. The joy of it, when you love it, is a sure taste of heaven. Obey God. Know His word, His will. Obey it. Samuel had a visual reminder. So do we! At least we should. We should have one in our families, one in our jobs, our church ordinances and our mirrors. He is faithful; you’re called to be too. What in your life reminds you of why you should be? If you say nothing then you probably already know what you should do. Do it, then set up your own Ebenezer.   

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