There is a line in a song we sing occasionally at church which goes, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer.” It’s part of a lovely old hymn called “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” written by Robert Robinson around 1757.
But it’s a lyric that probably means little to many modern Christians. The word Ebenezer only occurs three times in the Bible, all in the same story of a series of battles between the Israelites and the Philistines. And this story contains an important message for us today.
We had the privilege of having – at short notice – Tim Petersen with us yesterday. Tim planted and leads a church called Cityhill in Amanzimtoti, Sth Africa. He shared with us a message he entitled “Ebenezer Moments.”
The story – found in 1Sam 4:1-7:14 – begins with the slaughter of 4,000 Israelite soldier in battle. Intriguingly, the Israelites ask, “Why has the Lord defeated us today?” [1Sam 4:3].They conclude that the reason for their defeat was because the Ark of the Covenant [see footnote] was not with them.
So, with much rejoicing and excitement, they bring the Ark of the Covenant up with them to battle, striking fear into the hearts of the Philistines [see 1Sam 4:5-8].
This time though, they lose 30,000 soldiers, and the Ark of the Covenant is captured by the Philistines. What went wrong? Continue reading