March 27, 2012
“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far has the LORD helped us.’ ” — 1 Samuel 7:12 (NIV)
Whether on holiday or at home, I make it a point to keep to my exercise routines. In Melaka, I like to walk up St. Paul?s Hill. At the top of the hill sits St. Paul?s Church, a historic building. In the 1800s many significant people were buried there. What is left of that building are the walls, and several tombstones. Each tombstone tells a story of the people represented. When I read those names, it means nothing to me. However, the words mean something to those who knew those people.
In many countries and cultures, memorial stones have been erected for specific purposes. They may be used to remember an important individual who has made a significant contribution. It could also be to a group of people, especially if they have suffered for a cause.
The memorials are placed to remember people or events for a long time.
In the Scriptures, several stones were also erected to remember things that happened.
After the Israelites crossed the River Jordan, Joshua appointed 12 men to each take a stone to place in the middle of the Jordan. This was to 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…” (Joshua 4:4-6)
Then there was the time when the Israelites, who were not walking with God, were at war with the Philistines. The latter seemed to be winning, even to the point of capturing the Ark of the Covenant, Israel’s symbol of God?s presence. Eventually the ark was returned. Still the war continued.
Samuel, the prophet called on the Israelites to “return to the Lord with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth…and direct your hearts to the Lord and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” (1 Samuel 7:3)
And the people who had turned their hearts from God to the foreign gods “removed the Baals and the Ashtaroth and served the Lord alone.” (1 Samuel 7:4)
When they repented, God heard their cries. Their enemies were defeated.
“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far has the LORD helped us.’ ”
The memorial stone, placed where there was the most traffic, became a reminder to the people that God helped them win the battle with their enemies. Each time they saw the stone they were reminded that God had helped them.
Look back at your life and draw a list of your Ebenezer(s). What are some current issues that you might be facing in which you need the Lord’s help? List them down. From time to time, go back to the list and review how God has enabled you.
A stone was named and stood as a testimony of God?s help to His people. How can you testify by your Ebenezer(s)? Think of ways you can tell or show others “thus far the Lord has helped us”.
Thought For The Week (TFTW) is contributed by Dr Koh Siang Kiang, Associate Professor (Christian Education) at the Singapore Bible College (SBC). She graduated from SBC and Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS), USA, and has served in various ministries for more than 35 years, including teaching at DTS. Dr Koh has been with SBC for the last 10 years, and has a passion for people and teaching the Word of God. She also loves to make the Bible come alive by leading tours to the Holy Land, and has led 12 such trips. To help her relax, Dr Koh likes to cook and cross-stitch.