Stones of Help
For twenty long years the ark of God had remained at Keriath Jearim. It had been deposited there for safe-keeping after the boils-stricken Philistines returned it to Israel in an effort to break their plague. But now the straying Israelites had grown fearful of it. They had grown fearful because they had distanced themselves from God.
Yet now they were returning to Him. They “mourned and sought after the Lord” (1 Sam. 7:2). They trashed their false idols and prayed once again that Jehovah would deliver them from the oppression of the Philistines. It all culminated in a showdown at Mizpah. What happened next is best left told by scripture itself:
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.” (1 Sam. 7:10-11).
Clearly, something unusual occurred. Something undoubtedly divine which threw the well-armed, battle-toughened Philistines into what sounds like a mass panic attack! They ran, the Israelites charged, and the Lord gave them victory!
Such a happening demanded a memorial. So Samuel took what was handy… what was local… “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.’” (v.12). Ebenezer means “Stone of help” and like the Inuit inukshuk these stones conveyed meaning.
Ebenezers are important in one’s life. Like height marks on a doorframe, old photos, wedding rings or a flag on the moon these all mark milestones. They remind us of commitments made, faithfulness shown, past accomplishments, or even defeats which warn us when passing by there again. Scars or medals. Both tell their stories.
Ebenezers remind us of what is essentially important. Thus, they help us set and keep our priorities… God’s priorities.
What priorities do you need to establish / re-establish, or memorialize. Perhaps today is a good day for rededication – a rededication you can commit to and seal by God’s help with some Ebenezer to help keep you on track.
Do not clutter your faith, but confirm it. Mark it with a moment… an altar call, a cross.
Tomorrow marks a special landmark or two for me. Join me then and I’ll share it with you.
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