The Lord Our Ebenezer

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How Israel was helped by God after due cleansing and repentance

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The Lord Our Ebenezer:

The Lord Our Ebenezer Pastor Oyewole O. Sarumi Pastoral Leadership Academy Email: [email protected] http://placademy.org

Opening Scriptures: I Sam.7:3-15:

Opening Scriptures: I Sam.7:3-15 Samuel took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah . He named it Ebenezer—”the stone of help”—for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” —1 Samuel 7:12, NLT Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah , and named it Ebenezer; for he said, "Thus far the LORD has helped us." (1 Samuel 7:12  NRSV ) Samuel took a single rock and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. He named it "Ebenezer" (Rock of Help), saying, "This marks the place where God helped us." (1 Samuel 7:12 MSG)

Introduction :

Introduction It was common practice in Old Testament days to signify occurrences of historical and spiritual significance by memorializing them in the names given to places or people. The idea was that names had meaning and the meanings told a story. Most of us are familiar with the name “Ebenezer” because of the character Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’s novella ’ A Christmas Carol’ . Because of that story, the name “Ebenezer” has taken on the connotation of miserliness and a lack of charity—although, to be fair, Ebenezer Scrooge did become a changed man at the end of the story. The name “Ebenezer” actually comes from the Bible.

Slide4:

Two examples of memoralizing names in the Bible are in I Samuel are: Ichabod – the name of Eli’s grandson born at a significant lowpoint in the history of the Hebrews of that time – a point of loss, reversal, unfaithfulness, and judgement when their enemies defeated them in battle and captured the Ark of the Covenant. God had not left them, but they had left Him. Ebenezer – the name Samuel gives to a rock he sets up after The Ark is recovered, the historic enemies of the Hebrews (Philistines) are repulsed, and a period of peace and safety is inaugurated.

Slide5:

In 1 Samuel 4:1-11 and 5:1, the Ebenezer is strangely identified with a particular site, about four miles south of Gilgal, where the Israelites were twice defeated by the Philistines and the Ark of the Covenant was stolen. These battles took place, however, before the site was actually named Ebenezer. The two battles mentioned in 1 Samuel 4 and 5 took place at Ebenezer, but some time before it was so-named. The site wasn’t named Ebenezer until after the Israelites finally defeated the Philistines, and took back the Ark of the Covenant.

Slide6:

The pillar of stone was a monument of victory; constantly reminding the children of Israel of God faithfulness. God did not give Samuel any direct instruction to erect the pillar of stone. So, what inspired the prophet to set up the stone of help? Prophet Samuel’s action in 1 Samuel 7:12, was clearly inspired by God when we examine God’s instruction to Joshua in Jos. 4:5-7. We need to erect a memorabilia, a monument, marker-stone, a landmark etc to help us remember God’s goodness and help.

Joshua 4:5-7:

Joshua 4:5-7  “Joshua directed them, “Cross to the middle of the Jordan and take your place in front of the Chest of GOD, your God. Each of you heft a stone to your shoulder, a stone for each of the tribes of the People of Israel, so you’ll have something later to mark the occasion. When your children ask you, ‘What are these stones to you?’ you’ll say, ‘The flow of the Jordan was stopped in front of the Chest of the Covenant of GOD as it crossed the Jordan– stopped in its tracks. These stones are a permanent memorial for the People of Israel.’” MSG

The Story - From Ichabod to Ebenezer I:

The Story - From Ichabod to Ebenezer I 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, and 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.

Slide9:

Nevertheless, the Philistines who were frightened by the history of the Ark of the Covenant, fought valiantly.  In so doing, Israel was defeated; great slaughter ensued; thirty thousand Israeli soldiers 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. The Story - From Ichabod to Ebenezer II

Slide10:

In  1 Samuel 7 , during the end of the time of the judges, Israel experiences revival under the leadership of  Samuel . The nation repents of their sin, destroys their idols, and begins to seek the Lord ( 1 Samuel 7:2–4 ). Samuel gathered the people at Mizpah where they confessed their sin, and Samuel offered a sacrifice on their behalf (verses 5–9). It was during this time of repentance and renewal that the enemy attacked: “While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle” ( 1 Samuel 7:10 ). The Israelites went out to do battle against the invaders, and God sent them supernatural help: “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” (verse 10). Israel’s victory over the Philistines was decisive. Several cities the Philistines had captured were restored to Israel, and it was a long time before the Philistines tried to invade Israel again ( 1 Samuel 7:13–14 ). To commemorate the divine victory, “Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us’” (verse 12). The Story - From Ichabod to Ebenezer II

Slide11:

In the passage of our text, 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 in vs.3 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.  And, Serving Jehovah God alone. These four things basically constitute repentance, and Samuel promised that God would bring 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.

"What is an Ebenezer?:

"What is an Ebenezer? The word "Ebenezer" comes from Hebrew and is actually two words pronounced together:  Even  Haazer . It is usually transliterated as a proper name by dropping the definite article ( Ha ) from the Hebrew word for "help" ( Ezer ) and putting it together with the Hebrew word for "stone" ( Even ) to create: "Ebenezer." The etymological roots of the word, thus defined, should demonstrate that an "Ebenezer" is, literally, a "Stone of Help.“ So, Ebenezer  means “The Stone of The help.” Ebenezer

Help – The Hebrew word:

Help – The Hebrew word The  English  word  help  means to aid, to lend strength, to  succor , to lend means of deliverance (as to help one in distress), to give assistance (to stand by, to cause to stand) or support, to carry the weight of,  Help  means to do for someone what he or she cannot do for himself or herself. The Hebrew words for help are: Ezer is the Hebrew noun for  helper. Azar is the Hebrew verb which means to help. Ezrah means help, support, assistance, aid, either human or divine. It is often used in the sense of a helper or assistant, one who assists and serves another with what is needed.

Help - The Greek Words:

Help - The Greek Words The  Greek words  that are most often used in the  Septuagint ( Lxx )  to translate the preceding Hebrew words are... Boetheia describes the assistance offered to meet a need. In secular Greek, this word was used to describe a medical aid or a cure Boetheo is Greek verb which means to help or to come to the aid of someone.  Boetheo  is derived two words  boe  = a cry, exclamation +  théō  = to run. Can you see the incredible word picture that results from combining these two words? The idea conveyed is of one who upon hearing a cry for help, runs to give aid to assist (or to use an old but very good synonym, to  succor ). Boethos describes one who runs on hearing a cry to give assistance. It is used once in the NT as a description of  Jehovah our Helper.  ( Hebrews 13:6 ]

Excursion on Names related to HELP:

Excursion on Names related to HELP Eliezer is composed of two words el = God and ezer = help and means in essence "God is his help." Eliezer is found 15 times in Scripture describing 11 individuals, but the two most definitive description are in Genesis and Exodus: The name of Abraham servant, and one of Moses’ two sons by Zipporah [Gen.24:1, Exo. 18:4] Eliezer (from 'el = God or ' eli  = my God + ' ezer  = help) means " God is help ", " my God is help ", " God of help “. EBENEZER - STONE OF HELP Ebenezer is derived from two words,  eben  = stone and  ezer  = help and thus means "stone of help."

Slide16:

Every time an Israelite saw the stone erected by Samuel, he would have a tangible reminder of the Lord’s power and protection. The “stone of help” marked the spot where the enemy had been routed and God’s promise to bless His repentant people had been honoured. The Lord had helped them, all the way to this day.

God is the Stone or Rock of Israel.:

God is the Stone or Rock of Israel. 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.” David uses this name in: 2 Samuel 23:3, “The God of Israel said,  The Rock of Israel  spoke to me…”

JEHOVAH EZER - RIDES TO YOUR HELP!:

JEHOVAH EZER - RIDES TO YOUR HELP! Deuteronomy 33:26 ,  27  "There is none like the God of  Jeshurun  (Israel), Who rides the heavens to your  HELP ( azar, boethos ), and through the skies in His majesty. 27 "The eternal God is a dwelling place, And underneath are the everlasting arms; And He drove out the enemy from before you, And said, 'Destroy!’.” Men can come to our help, but they travel slowly, creeping along the earth. Lo, our God comes riding on the heavens. They who travel on the earth may be stopped by enemies, they certainly will be hindered; but he that rides upon the heavens cannot be stayed nor even delayed.

JEHOVAH EZER - OUR ONLY HELP!:

JEHOVAH EZER - OUR ONLY HELP! 2 Chronicles 14:11  Then Asa called to the LORD his God and said, " Jehovah , there is no one besides You to  help (azar, boetheo ) in the battle between the powerful and those who have no strength; so  help  (azar in the imperative, boetheo ) us, O LORD our God, for we trust in You, and in Your name have come against this multitude. O LORD, You are our God; let not man prevail against You.“ King Asa’s prayer in this passage is in the the context of a huge army (a million men, 300 chariots!). Asa could have chosen to rely on his arm of strength for he had 280, 000 men. Oh how we are children of God need to continually cry out to  Jehovah our Helper  and like King Asa fully rely on His omnipotent arm and not our own arm of flesh.  What battle are you facing today? Are you willing to humble yourself and cry out to Jehovah Ezer ? The LORD promises to be a very present Help in trouble ( Ps 46:1-2 ).

JESUS IS - JEHOVAH EZER:

JESUS IS - JEHOVAH EZER Jehovah Ezer is the ultimate resort of the helpless, aptly described as fatherless. Perhaps you feel like your earthly father has forsaken you, leaving you fatherless and, in a sense, an "orphan." You can know for certain that the Jehovah Ezer never takes His eyes off of you, for He is a "A father of the fatherless," He "makes a home for the lonely" ( Ps 68:5 ,  6 ) and He "supports the fatherless and the widow." ( Ps 146:9 ). In Jehovah Ezer , "the orphan finds mercy.” ( Hos 14:3 )

Slide21:

Psalm 12:1   “ Help  (save),  LORD  (Jehovah), for the godly man ceases to be, for the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.” A good prayer to pray to Jehovah Ezer anytime! It is not the length of the prayer, but the "strength" of the prayer that is effective (comp.  Mt 6:7-8 ,  Jas 5:16 ). Peter was sinking and had time for only a short "prayer" - "Lord, save me!" which was enough for Jesus who "immediately stretched out His hand and took hold of him" ( Mt 14:30 ,  31 )

How is Jesus like a rock?:

How is Jesus like a rock? But, how is Jesus like a rock? Jesus is stable like a rock is stable. He does not hop around from place to place; you know where you can find him. Jesus is solid like a rock is solid. He is a sure foundation.  You can put all of your weight upon Him and He will sustain you.  Jesus is unchanging like a rock is unchanging. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Although He may change His mind, He never changes in character. Jesus is not just the Rock; He is “The Rock of The Help.”  Jesus is “The Rock of many specific incidences of where we have received His help, because  Jesus is “Help” personified .

Slide23:

This name can also be seen in the New Testament.  In the New Testament we find out that  the Rock of Israel , in the Old Testament, is Jesus Christ,  our Rock .  Paul said in: 1 Corinthians 10:1-4.. ..“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them:  and that Rock was Christ .”

WHERE IS YOUR EBENEZER?:

WHERE IS YOUR EBENEZER? Literally speaking, an Ebenezer is a "stone of help," or a reminder of God’s Real, Holy Presence and Divine aid. Spiritually and theologically speaking, an Ebenezer can be nearly anything that reminds us of God’s presence and help: the Bible; the Sacramental Elements; a cross; a picture; a fellow believer; a hymn. Those things which serve as reminders of God’s love, His Goodness, God’s real Presence, and God’s assistance are " Ebenezers ."

Slide25:

Many times in the bible a stone or a pile of stones has been used as a reminder of how God has helped someone. The stories of Noah, Joshua, Jacob, and Samuel are just a few. I usually write down things that I prayed on and ask God for. Sometime, when I reviewed my journals at the end of every year, what I see are monumental! How God has answered my prayers. This shows God was faithful to answer my prayers. This my prayer journal is a type of Ebenezer stone. An Ebenezer stone is anything that reminds us of how God has helped us. When you go home today, please start journaling the goodness of God in your life, family and friends, and you’ll find some special stones. Kindly put them in a special place to remind you of God’s faithfulness, His mercy in His forgiveness, and how He is always there to help you.

Slide26:

Spurgeon said; “You have, perhaps, heard of the old woman who said she had so many Ebenezers , that they formed a wall on both sides of her all her journey through life. Each of us should be able to say the same. “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us”: it is indeed a great wall of memorials of the lovingkindness of God.” I hope that this day our souls may suggest unto themselves some way in which we may record the Lord’s mighty deeds, and hand down to coming generations our testimony of His faithfulness and of His truth.

“Hitherto hath the Lord helped us”::

“Hitherto hath the Lord helped us”: Samuel didn’t just set up a stone and name it “Ebenezer”, he had some words to go along with the name. He said: “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” Let’s examine the phrase “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us”. There are three perspectives to this statement. Those perspectives are past, present, and future.

The Past Perspective:

The Past Perspective When Samuel said, “Thus far the Lord has helped us,” the statement hearkened back to all of the great victories that God had worked in Israel’s history. This statement reminds us of all the victories of history.  Neither time nor human frailty would allow us to list all of those victories. However, we ought to proclaim, “Thus far the Lord has helped us,” in honour of those victories.

The Present Perspective:

The Present Perspective Not only had God wrought many victories for them in the near and distant past, but also they were presently standing in victory. Right now you are standing in some present victory.  Maybe you can’t think of a present victory, then think about it like our spiritual ancestors used to sing: Just another day that the Lord has kept me. Just another day that the Lord has kept me. He has kept me from all evil; with my mind stayed on Him. Just another day that the Lord has kept me. That is a present victory!!!

The Future Perspective:

The Future Perspective But the statement entails more than the past and the present, as it intimates the future.  If He had helped them this far, i.e. in the past and in the present, wouldn’t He help them in the future? Isn’t the future also intimated here for us?  “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”   We have counted upon him in the past, He is active in the present, and His promises should cause us to depend upon Him for the future.   I don’t believe that He has brought us this far to leave us.  Somebody said: He didn’t bring us this far to leave us. He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn’t build a home in us to move away. He didn’t lift us up to let us down. Somebody shout, “Ebenezer!”  “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

The Outcome of this Battle:

The Outcome of this Battle What was the outcome of this battle and miraculous victory at Mizpah? “So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel; the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The towns that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites. (1 Samuel 7:13-14 NRSV) The Philistines did not come within the border of Israel anymore. Through this victory, which was obtained by the miraculous help of God, the Philistines were so humbled, that they  no  more invaded the territory of Israel, i.e. with lasting success, as they had done before ( Keil & Delitszch ]

The Philistines lost a lot of their power.:

The Philistines lost a lot of their power. The Philistines lost a lot of their power. The hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. God continued to fight for Israel against her enemies. They regained territory that they had lost to the Philistines. The territory was delivered from the hand of the Philistines. This brought about peace with other enemies.

Slide33:

The Canaanitish tribes also kept peace with Israel after this victory of the Israelites over the Philistines, and during the time of Samuel” ( Keil & Delitzsch ). My prayers is that God will do the same thing for you: Secure your borders against your enemies. Raise His hand mightily against Satan and your enemies—all of your days. Give you back territory that had been lost to the devil. Release territory all around you from the hand of the devil. Quiet down your enemies. Therefore, we ought to set up a memorial here, at anniversary time and shout, “Ebenezer!”  “Thus far the Lord has helped us!”  We ought to slow down; we ought to stop for a while, and memorialize and worship God for what He has done and who He is!  “Ebenezer!”  “Thus far the Lord has helped us!”

Why Erecting a Stone - Humans are forgetful:

Why Erecting a Stone - Humans are forgetful Samuel was a wise and godly man with a good idea. He recognized something that’s true about human nature—we’re forgetful. At Ebenezer, Israel could stand next to that big old rock, a marker-stone and remind themselves, “Yes, we serve a living and faithful God, whose mercies are everlasting.” The Psalmist chapter 103: 1-2 extolled us that ‘we should not forget God’s benefits that He has given us’.

Conclusion…1:

Conclusion…1 Your life is not static like a photograph, but liquid and moving like a symphony. It has “high highs” and “low lows” – different movements, if you will. Your experiences come and go, combining into the features of a story. God is speaking through your story and one way to “hear” Him is to name your life points so you can retain and reference their meaning. What is an “Ichabod” moment in your life? A rough ending at which you felt as if “the Glory left”? What is an “Ebenezer” moment in your life? A point at which you experienced God’s remarkable help and intervention?

Conclusion…2 :

Conclusion…2 Beloved, I like to guess that you have experienced several victories gained by the help of God. It is time to acknowledge them and perpetuate their memories in your heart. David waved his ‘Ebenezer’ at King Saul, when there was doubt about his ability to defeat Goliath (see 1Samuel 17: 33-37). Bring out your ‘Ebenezer” and wave them at your challenge. God is faithful, if He has done it in this out going year, He will surely do it again in the coming days. LET’S PRAY!

PRAYER ISSUES:

PRAYER ISSUES Heavenly Father, thank you for always being there to help us. I pray that we will always remember your faithfulness and mercy. Lord, I will always remember your faithfulness and the past victories gained through your help. Give thanks to God for the wonderful Ebenezers that God has given us in my life and ministry. I thank God for my Church family -- the many wonderful saints within my congregations who have upheld me, daily, with their prayers, their words of encouragement, and their acts of service. May each and every one of us always be blessed by the grace and peace of Jesus Christ through the Ebenezers that God has placed in our lives! For a moment, think back over your life. Is there some "Eliezer" event in your life? How did you respond to God's help? Maybe you did not even recognize it then but in retrospect you do see His Helping hand. Now, offer a prayer of thanksgiving and praise to your Jehovah ' Ezer , the LORD your Helper. May God grant each of us His grace to "set up memorial stones," stones of remembrance, our own personal " Ebenezers ," that continually testifies "Hitherto hath Jehovah Helped me" which serves as a continual reminder of His ever present help in Christ! 

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