Lessons from Ebenezer

The word Ebenezer comes from 1 Samuel 7:12 after the Lord God led the Israelites in victory over the Philistines to recover the Ark of the Covenant. Samuel took a stone and set it up and called it Ebenezer because “Thus far has the Lord helped us.” The Ebenezer stone is often called a stone of remembrance to remind God’s people of all of the ways that He had blessed them and provided for them.

Thanksgiving is a good time to remember. It is an opportunity to remember all the ways in which we have been blessed. Remembering for the people of God is a prelude to thanking.

For Moses and the Israelites who had escaped enslavement in Egypt, there was a lot for them to remember. The manna and quail. The clothes that did not wear out and the feet that did not swell. Even the promise of the land that was awaiting them. God had been present to guide and direct His people throughout the forty years. It was good for the Israelites to take time to remember the Lord’s blessings.

For Samuel, the prophet and the Israelites in his day, there was still much to remember. The same God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses, was continuing to bless and keep the Israelites in the days of Samuel. The Ark of the Covenant had been possessed by the Philistines for twenty years. The Israelites, repentant of their worship of false gods, turned back to the Lord to serve him alone. Then Samuel raised the stone of remembrance, the Ebenezer stone, to remember all that the Lord had done for them.

You have much to remember as well. “Thus far has the Lord helped you.” This is a time for remembering and thanking, for counting blessings and praising the God who so generously gave. You can raise your Ebenezer stone and remember how rich and blessed you are. You can look around you and see all of the ways that God sustains you and strengthens you. Every good and perfect gift comes to us from above as our heavenly Father gives us all that we need to support this body, life, and even life everlasting. Thanks be to God for Christ and His Church, faith, family, friends, and all the things that He has given to us. It is good for us to remember these things, these Ebenezers, and we thank God that “Thus far has the Lord helped us.”

Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan

Rev. Dr. R. Lee Hagan was born in Birmingham, Ala., and graduated from Concordia, Seward, Neb., in 1992. He holds both a Master of Divinity Degree (1996) and Doctorate of Ministry (2011) from Concordia Seminary. Hagan served as Senior Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran in Concordia, Mo. (2002-2015) and was previously an Associate Pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Evansville, Ind. (1996-2002). He has been President of The Missouri District of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod since June 2015. Hagan also served as Interim Director, LCMS Rural and Small Town Mission (2011-12), on numerous District Boards both in Missouri and Indiana, and during multiple Synodical Conventions as a delegate and on Floor Committees. He is married to Jill and they have two children.