Ebenezer: Thus Far The Lord Has Helped Us! 2
1 Samuel 7:3-14
Anniversary times are wonderful times to set up a memorial stones, markers, and altars of worship to commemorate the victories that God has given to you.
Being the chosen people of God to win a particular piece of Promised Land for your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, you have had enemies from the beginning¾and you shall have them unto the end.
*But there is no doubt in my mind, that God has given you many wonderful victories.*
You should stop here, for a moment, and commemorate the battles that God has fought for you and the victories that He has given you over your enemies.
You should commemorate these victories with worship!
Clap your hands in His presence, right now, and shout to God with a voice of triumph¾because of the victories that God has given you!!!
I believe that the Lord has laid one verse of Scripture, upon my mind, to share with you today.
But, this one verse of Scripture is deeply embedded in a very long, but very fabulous history and story.
We do not have the time to recount the entire story, but let me give you a few details to highlight the background of this Scripture.
This was one of the darkest periods in the history of the nation of Israel.
During this time, one of the fiercest enemies of the Jews, the Philistines, drew up in battle array against Israel, near Ebenezer.
As the battle spread, Israel was defeated and about four thousand men were killed on the battlefield.
Well, needless to say, the elders of Israel could not understand what was going on.
*They could not understand that the spiritual decline of the nation was forfeiting the protection and victory of Jehovah God.*
To try to remedy the situation, the elders of Israel sent for the Ark of the Covenant, which was stationed at Shiloh.
When the Ark of the Covenant came into the camp of the Israelites, they all shouted until the earth resounded or rang.
*But, they were placing their confidence in the magic of the Ark, rather than the majesty of the Almighty who resided above the Ark.*
The Israelites did not understand that the Ark of the Covenant could *not* be used as a good luck charm or magical object.
The Ark of the Covenant, where God dwelled over the wings of the cherubim, contained the promises of Jehovah God.
God had given conditional promises to Israel.
Since she had *not* kept the conditions, which were a part of the covenant, this broke the covenant and God, brought Israel under the curses of the covenant, and God was *not* obligated to answer her prayers.
Nevertheless, the Philistines who were frightened by the history of the Ark of the Covenant, fought valiantly anyway.
In so doing, Israel was defeated; great slaughter ensued; thirty thousand Israeli solders were killed; the Ark of God was captured; and the priestly sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were killed.
When the report from the battlefield reached Eli, he fell off of his seat and broke his neck and died—because he was old and heavy.
When Phinehas’ wife heard the news she died in childbirth.
But, before she died she named the child Ichabod: “the glory of the Lord has departed.”
\\ But, the Ark of the Covenant was a snare or curse to the Philistines, so they eventually returned it to the men of Beth-shemesh.
It was also a snare to them, so they sent it to the men of Kiriath-jearim, and they consecrated Eleazar, the son of Abinadab, to keep the Ark. Subsequently, the Ark remained at Kiriath-jearim for twenty years, and the people of Israel lamented after the Lord.
This is where we pick up the story in 1 Samuel 7:3-14.
Would you turn there with me please?
I will read this aloud for us, and you follow along silently.
In this passage of Scripture, Samuel, one of the greatest men of God in the Old Testament, the last of the Judges and the first of the Prophets, is seeking to bring about a revival in Israel.
In so doing, he spoke to the Israelites about the things that would bring revival.
Those things included:
· Returning to the Lord with all of their heart.
· Removing the foreign gods from among them.
· Directing their hearts to the Lord.
· Serving Jehovah God alone.
These four things basically constitute repentance, and Samuel promised deliverance when there was true repentance.
*So, the Israelites met the conditions for repentance and for deliverance.*
Now, in the process of meeting the conditions, Samuel had them gather together at Mizpah that he might pray for them.
While they were at Mizpah, the leaders of the Philistines heard that the Israelites had gathered at Mizpah.
They read this gathering either as a gathering for battle, or the Philistines believed this would be a good time and place to finish off the Israelites.
So, they went up to Mizpah to attack Israel.
Now when the Sons of Israel heard that the Philistines were coming, they were afraid.
Then they asked Samuel to pray to God and ask Him to save them from the hand of the Philistines.
Samuel was a praying prophet, so he did what they asked.
He offered a whole burnt offering, in worship, and he cried to the Lord for Israel and the Lord answered Him.
Now while Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines were gathering together to battle against Israel.
*But God fought for Israel that day.
He thundered against them and confused them on the battlefield, so that they were badly beaten before Israel.*
/(Now let’s talk about what happened after the deliverance.
Let us return to 1 Samuel 7:12.
Let me read it for you again.)/
Samuel set up a stone between Mizpah and Shen, and he named the rock “Ebenezer,” saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us!”
\\ /(Let’s explore this verse!)/
The setting up of stones in such instances was *not* unusual.
This seems to be equivalent to building altars, memorials, or setting up marker stones to identify family land.
*This particular stone seems to be a memorial stone of victory.*
*It may have also been an altar, and it was set up to commemorate the victory that God had given them over their mortal and bitter enemies, the Philistines.*
*Anniversary time is a wonderful time to set up a memorial stone, a marker, and an altar of worship to commemorate the victories that God has given to you.*
Stop here, for a moment, and commemorate the battles that God has fought for you and the victories that He has given you over your enemies with a stone or altar of worship.
*You should commemorate these victories with worship!*
/(But Samuel didn’t just set up a memorial stone.)/
After he set up the memorial stone, he named it “Ebenezer.”
We ought to know about this name, since many African-American churches have it as a part of their name.
This name comes up exactly three times in the Old Testament.
Two of those times the name comes up to simply identify a specific place for specific events, but the most important occurrence of this word is right here.
The name literally means “the stone of the help.”
It is not “the stone of help” or “stone of the help,” but “*the* stone of *the* help.”
There is an article before both words.
· This is *not* *a* stone of a specific incident of help.
· This is *not* the stone of some *nondescript* help.
· This is *the* stone of the *specific* help that was received in this *specific* battle.
The grammatical construction reminds me of the grammatical construction in
John 1:4, “In Him was life, and *the life* was *the light* of men.”
Whenever two epithets, i.e. adjectives that are used as names, are compared in the Greek and there are articles before both epithets, the two are interchangeable.
The life was the light of men, and the light was the life of men.
This seems to be the same principle in 1 Samuel 7:12.
This is not true of
1 John 4:8, “The one who does not love does not know God, /for/ God is love.”
There is only one article in the phrase, “God is love:” “The God is love.”
It does not say, “The God is *the* Love.”
And, therefore, you cannot say, “The Love is The God.” Therefore we can say that God as to His nature is love, but love as to its nature is not necessarily God.
\\ /(Now some of you are asking, “Why are you telling all of us this?”)/
*I am telling you this as one proof of the thesis that this phrase, “the Stone of the help,” is typical of Jesus Christ.*
You can capitalize both epithets.
“The Stone of The Help” was also “The Help of The Stone.”
I believe this stone is a typology of Jesus Christ.
God was the Stone and The Help of Israel, and Jesus is The Stone of The Help for the Church and the Christian.
*We know that God is the Stone or Rock of Israel.*
The Bible refers to Him as such on a number of occasions.
Deuteronomy 32:4, “*The Rock*!
His work is perfect, for all His ways are just; a God of faithfulness and without injustice, righteous and upright is He.”
Deuteronomy 32:15, “But Jeshurun (i.e.
Israel) grew fat and kicked--you are grown fat, thick, and sleek--then he forsook God who made him, and scorned *the Rock of his salvation*.”
Deuteronomy 32:18, “You neglected *the Rock* who begot you, and forgot the God who gave you birth.”