As regular readers of this blog will know, the working title of my Christian video game is “Ebenezer”. But what exactly is an Ebenezer?

The modern person is most likely to assume that Ebenezer is the name of a person. Perhaps the only context we’ve encountered the word in is Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”, referring to the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge. But this is most certainly not the word’s origin.

People from an older generation may well have come across it in the great hymn by Augustus Montague Toplady: “A Sovereign Protector I have”. The third verse talks about “a new Ebenezer set up”. Now we’re getting closer – but if you’ve ever sung that hymn, you may well have sung it scratching your head and wondering what on earth it meant.

The Ebenezer was a stone set up by the people of Israel as a monument to remind them that “til now the Lord has helped us” – for that is what the word means in Hebrew: literally “stone of help”. It’s explained most clearly in 1 Samuel 7:12.

This concept – that our help comes from the God of the Bible – is the main theological undercurrent running through the whole of the narrative that my game is based upon. The story is full of weak people: Israel itself appears as a weak nation, surrounded by powerful enemies on every side, oppressed and lacking solid leadership; the king they seek to appoint, Saul, turns out to be weak-willed and overpowered by his fear of man; and to an outside observer witnessing the situation without the eyes of faith, the God of Israel himself appears, by implication, to be weak and unable to help his people.

But when the Spirit of God enters the situation, everything is transformed. God is mighty to deliver his people despite their weakness – indeed, often through their weakness. The days have long since passed when our enemy is the Philistines or the Ammonites; instead, our great enemy is sin. So long as we depend upon ourselves and human strength in the fight, we’ll find ourselves stretched beyond our capacity, and ultimately end up demoralised. But when we look to God for our help, in and through the death of the King he has appointed, Jesus Christ, there we find the help we need, and the power of his indwelling Spirit to change us.

The Lord has helped us til now – and so let’s have faith that he shall continue to do so every day of our lives.

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One Response to What Is An Ebenezer Anyway?

  1. Andrew says:

    Amen! Great post! I could feel the presence of the Spirit in this posting. God Bless your efforts brother.

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