What Does an Ebenezer Mean in the Bible?

Did you know that in the final action scene of the movie Jurassic Park a Raptor disappears? That’s right if you go back and rewind that movie, as the T-rex is picking up the Raptor, there is one frame where the Raptor is not seen. Perhaps it did not get rendered or an employee forgot to add it in. Film is typically shot in twenty-four frames per second, so it would take a quick eye to spot it. It’s fun to rewind movies to spot what we missed when we saw it the first time. In a similar way, as believers, we are called to rewind the stories of the Bible, remember what happened, and perhaps see what we missed.

2 Peter 1:12 tells us, “Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.” One of the many goals of the church is to remind each other what God has done. The day we truly know the past is the day we can predict the future with more accuracy. The life of the Israelites in the Old Testament was a constant cycle of dedication, sin, bondage, repentance, and victory. They would be doing good for a while, but those old habits kept showing up in their lives.

In 1 Samuel chapter 7 we discover how Israel was experiencing a revival while Samuel was leading them. Israel goes out to face their enemy the Philistines and have a great victory! To celebrate what God did, Samuel did something memorable. He carried a stone, walked into the aftermath of the battlefield, and placed it on the ground. I’m not sure how big this stone was, perhaps he had to gather some of the army to help him move it. Nonetheless I’m sure it created a scene. When stone was set where he liked it, he gave it a name. He called this rock, “Ebenezer” which is two Hebrew words which means, “stone of help”. He told those around him that the reason for this name was, “Thus far the LORD has helped us’” (1 Samuel 7:12). Samuel is a smart man. He knew that it was not just their work that caused the victory, it was the Lord’s favor!

One day after Jesus had died and rose again, the disciples decide to go fishing. They had been out there all night and caught nothing. How depressing, a group a men who were skilled fishermen were failing at their work. Yet Jesus appears to them, and speaks to them. Eugene Peterson paraphrases this well, “Jesus spoke to them: “Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?” They answered, “No.” He said, “Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.” They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in. (John 21:5-6) (The Message Bible).

When the disciples got a boat full of fish, they got excited and one of them shouted out, “It’s the Lord!” (John 21:7). This disciple saw that the reason for their victory was not because of their strength but because of Jesus. In fact, they physically couldn’t pull the fish into the boat. Take time this week to rewind those tapes and stories of the Bible. Go back to those familiar stories and see the hidden details! We can see how Samuel knew that Israel’s victory was because of God’s help. May we be like Samuel and look to Jesus. He is our Ebenezer stone, the rock of our salvation!


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