When a baby is born, the parents try to pick the perfect name for their child. In some cases and places, the grandparents as well as another close family member or family friend, gives the baby a name. That is how the baby gets his or her name. What about God? How does God come about His own names? God has so many names. If we were to take time to look at all the names of God, we could spend months just trying to understand and get to know all the names of God.
There are two ways by which God comes about His names:
I. Names God gave Himself or names God uses to introduce Himself – For example, when God met Moses at the burning bush, God introduced Himself to Moses as I am Who I Am (Exodus 3:14). Other names God has given Himself are The Lord (Exodus 6:8), The Lord, Your Saviour, Your Redeemer, The Mighty One of Jacob (Isaiah 44:20), the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob (Matthew 22:32), I am the Lord Your God or I am Yaweh, Your Elohim (Deuteronomy 5:6). When Jesus was here on earth, He used several names to introduce Himself. Names like the Bread of Life (John 6:35), the Light of the World (John 8:12), the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6), the Door (John 10:9), the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25), the Good Shepherd (John 10:11).
II. Names given to God by People – these are names that came about from people’s personal relationship, experience and encounter with God. They are names people gave God when He did something special for them or when He revealed an aspect of His character and nature to them. For example, in Genesis 16:13, Hagar called God the God Who Sees Me. Nobody told her that was God’s name, it was the best way she could describe God after she ran away to the wilderness and God located her there and spoke comforting words to her when she was in distress (Genesis 16:5-13). Other names people have given God include Jehovah Jireh which Abraham called God when God provided a ram for the sacrifice instead of Abraham having to sacrifice his son, Isaac (Genesis 20:14). Jehovah Shammah is a name given by Prophet Ezekiel after receiving visions of the temple of God and having a personal encounter with God’s awesome glory and presence (Ezekiel 48:37). The name Ebenezer which we want to look at today is a name given to God by Prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 7:12). Interestingly, these particular names for God are not limited to the Bible. In Matthew 16:15, Jesus asked His disciples, ‘Who do you say I am?’ He wanted them to tell Him something they could say about Him based on their own personal relationship with Him. Even today, based on our own personal relationship, experience and encounters with Jesus, we should be able to find names that don’t contradict the truths of scripture to express who God is to us. I pray that every one of us will have unique encounters with our ever Living God that will lead to our coming up with a special name we use for God when we worship Him or pray to Him.
Until we pass through certain situations in life, we can’t fully understand and appreciate some of the names of God. It takes someone who has spent nights on a hospital bed, someone who has spent so much money on medications and medical treatments to understand God as the Great Physician, as Jehovah Rapha. For every situation we face in life, there is a name of God to help us through that situation and bring us out of it. Today God wants to reach out to and help those facing situations that need the Lord, Ebenezer to attend to.
One thing we discover from 1 Samuel 7:1-15 our theme scripture for the name the Lord, our Ebenezer is that there are certain steps, decisions and choices we make in life that offends and threatens the devil and the kingdom of darkness. No one heard of the Prince of Persia until Daniel prayed some specific prayers (Daniel 10:1-13). 1 Samuel 7:4-7, tells us of certain things the Israelites did that angered and threatened the Philistines. The message version of 1 Samuel 7:7 says ‘When the Philistines heard that Israel was meeting at Mizpah, the Philistine leaders went on the offensive.’ What actions did the Israelites take that made their enemies get offensive?
I. They put away the strange gods in their lives (1 Samuel 7:4). When we put away every strange god; everything that takes the place of God in our lives whether it’s our job, our business, television programs or even a problem we are going through, the devil is angry because He doesn’t want us to give God our exclusive devotion and attention. Satan enjoys it when other things and people take the place of God in our lives. Satan loves to see us having more than one master (Matthew 6:24). Today, I pray we will put away all strange gods in our lives so the God can take His rightful place in our lives and Ebenezer can arise to help us.
II. They served the Lord (1 Samuel 7:4). The blessings that come from serving God can’t be over emphasised. Good health is a benefit (Exodus 23:25). Prosperity and a fulfilled, well spent life is another key benefit (Job 36:11). Enjoying the presence of God and receiving divine honour is another wonderful benefit (John 12:26). Of course, Satan doesn’t want us to enjoy these blessings that is why he manufactures dozens of excuses in our head to keep us from serving God.
III. They fasted, they prayed (1 Samuel 7:5-6). Prayer invites the power of God into any situation. Fasting delivers people from foundational and long standing problems, it frees people from the heavy burdens weighing them down. It delivers not just individuals, but families and nations from every yoke of oppression and injustice (James 5:16-18, Matthew 17:21, Isaiah 58:6). When you fast and pray, you confuse and annoy the enemy.
IV. They genuinely repented of their sins (1 Samuel 7:6). Repentance washes us from sin. It removes every filthiness in our body and spirit, and open us for a revival and divine visitation. Satan will do everything possible to keep us indulging and wallowing in sin, but we must resist him, forsake and turn away from our sins, so we can enjoy times of refreshing in the presence of God (Proverbs 28:13, Acts 3:20).
The Lord Ebenezer will certainly show forth in our situation as we put away everything taking the place of God in our lives, commit ourselves to a life of service, pray consistently, fast, repent and turn away from everything that does not bring glory to God’s holy name.
We may ask, who are the people that really need the Lord Ebenezer to arise on their behalf and send help to them?
1) Those whose lives are full of lamentations. 1 Samuel 7:2 tells us that all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord. Suffering, hardship, oppression, pain and loss results in lamentations. The Israelites were suffering under the oppression of the Philistines. Again and again the Philistines had invaded their territory. The Philistines had taken away their cities, all these brought about lamentations (1 Samuel 7:13-14). Today, the enemy has taken what rightfully belongs to the children of God. The health, peace, joy, wealth and prosperity we should be enjoying has been taken away by the devil who is such a big thief (John 10:10). This has brought about bitter lamentations. The financial hardship and oppression in the land is causing many to wail and lament. As the Lord Ebenezer helped the Israelites to recover back their cities which the Philistines had taken from them and keep the Philistines away from their land, Ebenezer will help you today to recover all that rightfully belongs to you that the enemy has taken from you. He will keep shame and sorrow far away from you.
2) Those facing situations that have put so much fear in their hearts. 1 Samuel 7:7 tells us that ‘When the Philistines heard that the children of Israel had gathered together at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines.’ The Israelites were filled with fear when they heard the Philistines were coming up against them. At this point, their faith was weak, they had doubts, they weren’t confident and certain God would help them. In the same vein, hearing the doctor’s negative diagnosis, hearing the number of people that have been infected with and have died of coronavirus, hearing about the shootings and kidnapping across the nation, hearing the threats of your landlord that he will throw your things out if you don’t pay by weekend, has brought fear to so many hearts. At times like this, even though you believe in God, you aren’t confident and sure that God will help you. The Lord Ebenezer who showed the Israelites that there was no need to be afraid of the Philistines, no reason to panic will arise on your behalf today. He will help you and show you that when God is with you, you have no cause to fear.
3) Those facing battles. 1 Samuel 7:10 says, ‘Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines 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.’ The Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. Daily we are facing battles from the kingdom of darkness. Battles against our glory and destiny. Battles against God’s plan and purpose for our lives. Battles against our peace and joy. Life is a battle; we are continually wrestling against all manner of principalities and powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). The Lord Ebenezer who took over the battles of the Israelites and gave them a resounding victory over the Philistines will thunder today against every power and force of darkness fighting and resting God’s plan for your life. He will show your enemies that the battle is the Lord’s. The Philistines came after the Israelites, they were the ones pursuing them, but when Ebenezer took over the battle, ‘The men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car’ (1 Samuel 7:11). The pursued became the pursuer. As God fights for you, you will chase your enemies, and they shall fall by the sword before you (Leviticus 26:7). What you need to do is pursue after God, follow Him closely and He will train your hands for war and your fingers for battle (Psalm 144:1); He will empower you to pursue those pursuing you with the aim of destroying you, He will give you victory over the battles of life.
4) Those wondering how they are going to face what lies ahead. When Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer (1 Samuel 7:12), Samuel wasn’t saying hurray! We have come to the end of our journey. He wasn’t saying glory be to God, there will be no more battles, no more challenges, no more problems. What he simply did was set up a reminder of God’s help for the people. It was to serve as a reminder and a source of encouragement that if God could help them up to this point, then He will surely help them with anything else that comes their way after this point. So when you have paid part of your rent or part of your school fees or made part payment for that plot of land or building and you are wondering how in this world you are going to pay the balance, you need to remind yourself of what Ebenezer has done. You need to encourage yourself in the Lord that if Ebenezer helped you to this point, if He helped you to pay what has been paid so far, He will surely help you to complete the payment. If He has helped your marriage up to this point, He will surely help you with the present issue you are facing in your marriage. If He has helped you to this point in your walk with Him, He will surely help you to the very end. He will help you to overcome this present nagging temptation that is trying to get you off track and off the straight and narrow road that leads to life. Whatever comes your way, keep reminding yourself that you are not alone, Ebenezer is with you. Remind yourself of where He has brought you from, what He has taken you from. Remind yourself of how far He has helped you and encourage yourself in the Lord that Ebenezer won’t leave you now, He will continue to be with you and help you until you stand before Your Lord and Maker and He welcomes you in saying ‘Well done thou good and faithful servant.’
We must never lose sight of what God has done for us no matter how small that thing appears in our eyes. The Lord Ebenezer is such a beautiful name to call. There is a spiritual energy that infuses us, there is a quickening of our spirit and our faith, there is a joy that replaces sadness, weariness and discouragement, when we remember how far the Lord has helped us.
PHOTO CREDIT: Sand Crain on Unsplash