5 I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on him.
I have put my hope in his word. — Psalm 130:5
Psalm 130 NLT
Our hope as Christians is that when we leave this world we will be with Jesus for eternity. This hope is not only built on the Word of God, it is guaranteed by the death and resurrection of His gift to us, His Son. We receive assurances that this hope is true in our own life experiences. As a child, my Mom told me “Son, you are going to have problems in life because you don’t take other people’s word for things, you have to experience them all yourself”. That prophecy came true, much to her regret in a lot of cases. And looking back on my life much to my regret in a lot of cases. But looking back also gives me confidence that my hope is built on Jesus and His Word because of the many times He has rescued me and brought me safe this far.
12 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” — 1 Samuel 7:12
My life is strewn with Ebenezer stones and the remembrance of those times assures me that God’s word is true and that He is faithful all the time. What a great hope we have because our salvation is based on His word and His faithfulness.
Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah.[a]
He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord
has helped us!” — 1 Samuel 7:12 NLT
When the Philistines were attacking Israel, they were defeating them in every battle. The people called for Samuel and asked him to sacrifice to the Lord and pray for their deliverance. Samuel told the leaders to gather all the people and meet him at Mizpah. The people met Samuel there where they fasted all day and confessed their sins before God. Just as Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel. Because of their fasting and praying, God relented and caused the Philistines to be so completely confused that the Israelites were able to defeat them and chase them away. To show their appreciation for the deliverance and the answer to their prayers, Samuel raised up a stone in that location and called it Ebenezer which means “a stone of help”. Each evening, we should look back over our lives and recognize those areas where God has given us victory over satan and his dominions. Then, we should take the time to symbolically “raise our Ebenezer” by taking time to praise God and thank Him for his great mercies. We should bow our heads and our knees in honor of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords because it is only by His help that we have come this far and only by His help will we make it home to spend eternity with Him. There is victory and joy in Jesus and there is failure and defeat without Him. Give Him the glory that He so richly deserves for all of our victories. Sing praises to His Name and marinate yourself in His goodness.
8 So the men did as Joshua had commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan River, one for each tribe, just as the Lord had told Joshua. They carried them to the place where they camped for the night and constructed the memorial there. — Joshua 4:8 NLT
Often when a major event had occurred in the lives of the children of Israel, God would instruct them to set up stones or build an altar. These stones or altars were built or erected as a token of remembrance for God’s help in bringing them safely this far. It was also a reminder to tell future generations about the goodness and the mercies of God. They were unique in that they were always built with natural, uncut stones. Crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land for the first time was a once-in-a-lifetime major event. The Israelis put twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan to mark the spot of the crossing and carried twelve stones to Gilgal and erected them there to mark the spot of their first encampment in their new homeland. We need to be aware of the major events in our lives and construct mental and/or physical landmarks as a way to remember these events. We need to point out these times to our future generations as a remembrance of what God has done for us. When Samuel erected the stone between Mizpah and Jeshanah (1 Samuel 7:12) to mark the spot where God had defeated the Philistines for the Israelis, he named it “Ebenezer” which means a stone of help. It is by the help of God that we have come this far safely. Let us stop, set up an Ebenezer, pray, worship and celebrate God’s goodness and mercies in our lives.
*From the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”