Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and drove them back as far as below Beth Car. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” (1 Samuel 7:10-12)
Here I Raise My Ebenezer
When Samuel began to judge Israel, he begged them to put away their foreign gods and the Ashtoreth they served and return to the Lord with all their hearts. He promised them if they returned to the Lord, they would be delivered from the oppression of the Philistines that are so plagued the people for many years. The children of Israel put away their foreign gods and the Ashtoreth and served the Lord only. When the Philistines heard what the people of Israel had done under the leadership of Samuel, the lords of the Philistines went up against them with their vast army. Israel was afraid of the Philistines, begging Samuel to ask the Lord to intercede for them. Samuel prepared a sacrifice before the Lord, and as he was performing the sacrifice, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. The people of Israel faced certain death.
As the Philistines began their attack against Israel, the Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines, confusing them and causing them to be in disarray. Taking advantage of the confusion, Israel descended upon the Philistines, pursuing them into a huge valley 1000 feet deep, at the bottom of which was a torrent rushing over a rocky bed. Israel defeated their enemy as far as below Beth Car. It was a resounding defeat made possible by the help of the Lord. The victory was through the power of God. Israel would not be oppressed by the Philistines, and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. In thanksgiving for deliverance from the Philistines, Samuel took a large stone Samuel and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. Samuel thanked God for the deliverance from the hand of the Philistines, honoring the Lord with a memorial to recognize God’s help in defeating the Philistines. He named the stone Ebenezer, which means “the stone of help.” It was important for the people and the world to know that victory over the Philistines could not have been possible without the help of God.
The Philistines are long gone, and the wars between Israel and the nations of Canaan have ceased. Biblical Israel is no more. Prophets like Samuel are only found on the pages of holy writ. But the war is not over. It is a different kind of war. Today’s war is an unnamed war led by the cruelest of despots humanity has ever faced. Long ago, in the garden of Eden, the battle began when Satan tempted Eve, and she succumbed to his wishes. For generations, the dark tentacles of the devil’s power held sway over the world. It seemed a hopeless and impossible task to overcome. And then, in the small town of Bethlehem, a child was born that would bring light to the world and become the greatest Ebenezer men could ever know. Jesus Christ came into the world to subdue the power of Satan. The devil succeeded in killing God on a cross, but then the Father raised up His Son to destroy the works of Satan. Humanity has found the thunder to defeat the devil. Like the Philistines of old, God thunders in His majesty, and Satan is subdued. The Lord God has given that thunder to His children so they can subdue Satan.
Through the grace and power of God, all the armies of Satan can be defeated. God has given the armor of the Holy Spirit to enforce His will on the devil. In the power of prayer, the minions of Satan fall. Through the teaching of the word of God, the purpose and plans of evil are destroyed. There is nothing that man can do alone against Satan. Without God’s help, there cannot and will not be any victory. When Satan raises his dragon head, God sends His angels of light to strike him down. The final victory that has already been written on the pages of God’s word is the army of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords when they will march before the forces of Satan and destroy him, and God will cast the devil and hades into the lake of fire.
The memorial of Ebenezer is found in the word of God, in the voices of prayer, through the songs of faith, and in the blessing of the Lord’s Supper. When the life of a child of God seeks the righteousness of truth in a dark world of lies, an Ebenezer is raised to seek the help of God. Individual Christians who are faithful to His word are memorials called Ebenezer. Churches that stand for truth in communities filled with error are places of Ebenezer. There are many memorials of Ebenezer throughout the world of the faithful and devout who seek the grace and love of God. Without God, there is nothing. With God, there is everything. Here I raise my Ebenezer, and Satan will not take it away from me. Let it thunder.