Samuel the prophet told Israel:
1 Samuel 7:3. “If you return to Yahweh with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to Yahweh and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.”
They followed his direction and eliminated the false gods and turned their hearts back to Yahweh. When the Philistines attacked, Samuel prayed, and Yahweh responded.
1 Samuel 7:10. ...the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But Yahweh thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines and confused them, so that they were routed before Israel.
Samuel wanted Israel to remember this day always, so he set up a spiritual marker to commemorate this event.
1 Samuel 7:12. Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far Yahweh has helped us.”
“Ebenezer” is a Hebrew word that literally means “a stone of help”. Stones, altars, and recorded historical events can all be ebenezers that memorialize a time of divine assistance. Robert Robinson in his great old hymn Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing wrote the following lyrics – “Here I raise my Ebenezer; Here by Thy great help I’ve come; And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home. Jesus sought me when a stranger, Wand’ring from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger, Interposed His precious blood.”
Abram set up an altar in Bethel (Genesis 12) to commemorate God’s promises to him. Isaac did the same (Genesis 26), as did Jacob (Genesis 28) and Moses (Exodus 17 and 24). Each altar honored Yahweh and served as a spiritual marker that He was “a stone of help”. When Israel crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, God had Joshua take 12 stones from the middle of the Jordan and place them on the side of the river as an ebenezer for the Israelites. Yahweh said the following:
Joshua 4:6-7. Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of Yahweh; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”
God’s willingness to help His people is well documented in the Scriptures with each record a reminder for us that Yahweh is our stone of help. Consider:
2 Chronicles 16:9a. For the eyes of Yahweh move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.
Psalm 34:15. The eyes of Yahweh are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry.
As we mature in our walk with God, we can look back and see times when He was a stone of help for us. These memories are spiritual markers of times when His supernatural intervention changed our lives. Contemplation of these markers can boost our faith today. Yahweh longs to help us in our time of need and will do so as we seek His help. Recalling times in our past when He helped can encourage us in the present.
The Bible is filled with incidents when our forefathers received God’s gracious, merciful help and can also serve as ebenezers for us to build our faith in our times of trouble.
God’s strongly supported Abraham and Sarah when with no hope they believed in God’s hope and Isaac was born in their old age. Yahweh helped Joseph to raise him from the miserable confines of prison to become the right-hand man of Pharaoh. He strongly supported Moses to lead the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground and who then watched the Egyptians drown in the same river. God strongly supported Phinehas, when in his zeal for Yahweh speared the Israelite man and Moabite woman and thereby stayed the plague. Yahweh helped Joshua and Israel as they marched around the city of Jericho until all the walls fell down. He strongly supported 85-year-old Caleb, one of two from his generation to enter the Promised Land.
The eyes of Yahweh focused upon David, the teenager who said of the giant Goliath:
1 Samuel 17:26b. “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?”
1 Samuel 17:37. ...“Yahweh who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.”
David defeated the greatest warrior of his day with five smooth stones, a sling, and faith in his God. Yahweh strongly supported David because his heart was completely God’s.
Elijah prayed that it would not rain for 3.5 years, and God responded. Yahweh helped Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, who refused to bow and escaped the burning, fiery furnace. God strongly supported Daniel when he was in the lion’s den.
I could go on and on with the many stories that reveal our Father’s invention into the troubled times of His people. When the roar of the lion rings in your head regarding your despairing situation, replace it with these spiritual markers that encourage faith in your God whose “eyes move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.”