One of our banners has the name Ebenezer
What does it mean and where is it in the Bible?
1. It is the name of a location of the tribe of Ephraim, one of Joseph’s sons. The other brother was Manasseh. In the list of the twelve tribes of Israel, the tribe of Levi is left out leaving room for this split in the house of Joseph to form two tribes. The tribe of Levi were priests rather than fighting men. The town was near Aphek. The Israelites camped there before fighting a losing battle with the Philistines (1 Sam 4:1). The Ark of the Covenant was captured by these enemies of Israel and brought from Ebenezer to their city, Ashdod (1 Sam 5:1). This proved to be a bad move and after several the ark was returned to the Israelites.
2. Twenty years later, God gave Israel victory over the Philistines, following their repentance. The Israelites were guilty of worshiping false God’s, not for the first time. Samuel sacrificed a lamb and prayed for victory. After the Philistines were defeated he took a stone and set it up as a memorial of the occasion, calling it Eben-ezer, “the stone of help”, and saying, “Thus far has the Lord helped us.” (1 Sam 7:12). We have a Saviour because God the Father was willing to offer His Son for us as a once and for all sacrifice on the cross at Calvary. Jesus, the High Priest (Heb. 4:14) has also become the sacrificial Lamb. (John 1:29). We also have Jesus interceding for us (Heb. 7:25). But the key was turning back to God.
3. A hymn: "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" is a hymn well known to older members of our congregation, [old hymn book no.417 to the tune Normandy]. It was written by the 18th century pastor and hymnist Robert Robinson, who was then a Methodist preacher after being converted following a sermon by George Whitfield. He penned the words at age 22 in the year 1757. Later he became a Baptist pastor with a church of over a thousand in Cambridge. The second verse mentions Ebenezer, but it is worth meditating on all of it:
Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
each me some melodious measure,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
O the vast, the boundless treasure
Of my Lord’s unchanging love.
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
The banner was created in 1981, which was the 150th anniversary of FSMC. The Sunday school at that time was recognising and celebrating the fact that God had helped them throughout this time. People can be so forgetful and this, over time, brings a lack of appreciation and faith. Consider how you might look back at events in your life, recent or over a long period, where God has helped you and is worthy of your praise and adoration.
“Father, thank you for your very real presence and constant help in our lives and our church.”