May 16, 2014
Joshua 22:24-27, 34; I Samuel 7:9, 10, 12
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
You might think I am about to tell a story about two old men sitting on a bench in the park – or maybe in for a swim! — Ed and Ebenezer! But, no, this takes quite a different turn. And it may surprise you, especially if you are not familiar with our two featured scriptures. Let’s look first at Joshua 22:24 through 27 and 34:
In time to come your descendants might speak to our descendants, saying,
“What have you to do with the LORD God of Israel? For the LORD has
made the Jordan a border between you and us, you children of Reuben and
children of Gad. You have no part in the LORD.” So your descendants
would make our descendants cease fearing the LORD. Therefore we said,
“Let us now prepare to build ourselves an altar, not for burnt offering, nor
for sacrifice, but that it may be a witness between you and us and our gener-
ations after us, that we may perform the service of the LORD before Him
with our burnt offerings, with our sacrifices, and with our peace offerings;
that your descendants may not say to our descendants in time to come, ‘You
have no part in the LORD.’”…And the children of Reuben and the children
of Gad called the altar Ed [Witness], “For it is a witness between us that the
LORD is God.”
So here we ‘meet’ Ed ! I actually quoted the King James in part of verse 34, because the NKJV translates the Hebrew Ed into Witness in the text. Ed means witness.
A bit of background to the above scripture – the Israelites had completed a five-year campaign against the Canaanites, but failed to completely wipe them out of the Promised Land. But they had pretty much taken control over Canaan, and it was time for the men of the army to go back to their families and to their assigned inheritance. The tribes of Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh had already received their portion on the east side of the Jordan River, and they were heading home. But the question arose on the way, “What if…,” and so the featured scripture.
But let’s take a different tack from an altar called Ed ! We are to be followers of Jesus Christ and witnesses unto Him! As the Lord told His disciples in Acts 1:8, “…you shall be witnesses to Me…to the end of the earth.” A witness – like the altar Ed – hears what has been said and passes it on to others. We believe and receive what the Word of God – Jesus and the Bible record – have revealed, and we tell others so they can believe and receive!
But most Christians find it so intimidating to be a witness for the Lord that they rarely tell others about Jesus. We need help! And in the Acts 1:8 scripture, the Lord qualifies His statement by saying, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…[THEN] you shall be witnesses to Me….” We can’t do it by ourselves! We need the help – the empowerment – of the Holy Spirit!
This brings us to Ebenezer – and I Samuel 7:9, 10 and 12:
And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it as a whole burnt offering
to the LORD. Then Samuel cried out to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD
answered him. Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philis-
tines 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….Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between
Mizpeh and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the
LORD helped us.”
Ebenezer means “a stone of help.” It was a memorial set up because God had miraculously helped the Israelites defeat the Philistines. The great Christian hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” was written by Robert Robinson in 1758. The second half of the second verse is thus:
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Robinson realized it was by God’s great help that the Christian life was lived out. This includes being a witness to the person and work of Jesus Christ! It is only by God’s empowerment by the Holy Spirit that we can be effective witnesses unto Him!
And so we meet Ed and Ebenezer – in that order! Raise your Ebenezer as a testimony to your reliance upon God! Then go out and be Ed !