An ebenezer (“stone of help”) is a marker on a point in time or space (or both) commemorating an intervention by Yahweh that delivered us when we needed His help. It can range in value and influence from a reminder of His greatness to a symbol we worship in our past. Its greatest value would be to prompt us to expect His help in the future. Its greatest cost could be to lure us to long for the past more than for the future.
When Yahweh is done with something, He frequently lets it be swallowed up or washed away or beaten to dust. When He let the Romans destroy on the cross the “temple” that was the body of Jesus, He raised it back up in 3 days. He wasn’t done with it yet.
When 40 years later, He let them destroy the temple that Herod had built, it is still destroyed, and even now has an anti-Christ substitute squatting on the property. The “tabernacle” that David worshiped in will be restored, though (Acts 15:16-18).
Being sensitive to what our God is doing with our old stuff will save us much heartache and can prevent us from protecting something that He is sweeping away. Some people will be swept away with their old stuff because they won’t listen.
What He is going to do today and tomorrow is pretty important. Focus on it, and be ready to leap into something new if He says to. It will be awesome..
When our prayers start to advance beyond fixing our broken stuff and empty bank accounts to asking for preparation and opportunities that are related to being servants of the King of Heaven and Earth, we will not have to pray as much for our broken stuff and empty bank accounts:
“This is why I tell you: Don’t worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the sky: they don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they? Can any of you add a single cubit to his height by worrying? And why do you worry about clothes? Learn how the wildflowers of the field grow: they don’t labor or spin thread. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these! If that’s how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, won’t He do much more for you—you of little faith? So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Matthew 6:25-34 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
“Men! Why are you doing these things? We are men also, with the same nature as you, and we are proclaiming good news to you, that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. In past generations He allowed all the nations to go their own way, although He did not leave Himself without a witness, since He did good: giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, and satisfying your hearts with food and happiness.” Even though they said these things, they barely stopped the crowds from sacrificing to them.
Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and when they had won over the crowds and stoned Paul, they dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. After the disciples surrounded him, he got up and went into the town. The next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.
After they had evangelized that town and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch, strengthening the hearts of the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith, and by telling them, “It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.”
(Acts 14:15-22 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
Paul and Barnabas were mistaken for the “gods” Zeus and Hermes citizens of Lystra after they healed a man. The next mistake the mob made was to listen to some people from Antioch and Iconium and to believe that Paul and Barnabas should be murdered with stones. They therefore tried to murder them with stones. They did such a good job at it they thought that they had succeeded.
Paul and Barnabas thought it was ordinary Kingdom work. They went back to check on the converts on their way back through the area.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
Then He called a child to Him and had him stand among them. “I assure you,” He said, “unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child—this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
(Matthew 18:1-5 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
Quite likely, when your brain processed the phrase “this one is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” it placed the idea in the present tense. Also likely, I expect, when your brain processed the phrase “you will not enter the kingdom of heaven,” it placed the idea in the future tense, probably even aligning the meaning with “going to heaven when you die.”
I believe that Roman Catholic Mythology has influenced the shift from what Jesus intended, which was that both ideas were present tense in His mind. Entering the kingdom means becoming subject to the King. That is today and every day until there is no day or night – just Christ being the Light of the City of God.
If we don’t recognize Jesus as a Ruler, we won’t be able to understand His actions when He seems to be breaking rules, or when He seems to be instructing us to do so.
Remember to dedicate the Sabbath day: You are to labor six days and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. For the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.
(Exodus 20:8-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
As He was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, a woman was there who had been disabled by a spiritc for over 18 years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.d When Jesus saw her, He called out to her “Woman, you are free of your disability.” Then He laid His hands on her, and instantly she was restored and began to glorify God.
But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, responded by telling the crowd, “There are six days when work should be done; therefore come on those days and be healed and not on the Sabbath day.”
(Luke 13:10-14 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
The instructions Jesus gave His disciples included what to be searching for in life. At one point, He told them, “So don’t worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. ”
(Matthew 6:31-33 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
We don’t need to search for provision or protection or fellowship or anything else before we look for and find His throne and His righteousness. When we find those things, we will be able to appropriately search for and find anything else that we need.
The government of the newly formed United States of America was founded on a document that outlined and detailed what constituted its identity and its powers. The document is a descriptive “constitution,” or list of ingredients for its recipe.
The early church’s government did not have such a document. It had Spirit-led leaders who gathered to discuss things in the presence of the Holy One and listen for His advice and directions.
This government was the manifestation of the King’s domain – His Kingdom. In Acts 15, Luke recorded a letter written by that government to new believers in Jesus who had been Gentiles. One line of that letter is very telling regarding the perception the leaders had of their Leader’s influence on their leadership:
“For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things:”
(Acts 15:28 New King James Version)
Jesus told some Pharisees that two laws summed up all the Law given to Moses and all that the Prophets had to say about that Law. Being conscious of those two laws under the influence of the Holy Spirit will lead us in greater righteousness than full obedience to the Law and the Prophets could.
When the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they came together in the same place. And one of them, an expert in the law, asked a question to test Him: “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”
He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important commandment. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.”
(Matthew 22:34-40 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is strongly urged to enter it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter in the law to drop out.”
(Luke 16:16-17 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
Then He told them, “These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
(Luke 24:44-46 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
Look to the Father’s heart and desires and intentions for revelation about what to do next, not at the needs around you or the abundance or limits of your resources. Spend time resting in Him and listening to Him so that you can serve well with Him in you.
As soon as they left the synagogue, they went into Simon and Andrew’s house with James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law was lying in bed with a fever, and they told Him about her at once. So He went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she began to serve them.
When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all those who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. The whole town was assembled at the door, and He healed many who were sick with various diseases and drove out many demons. But He would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew Him.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there. Simon and his companions went searching for Him. They found Him and said, “Everyone’s looking for You!”
And He said to them, “Let’s go on to the neighboring villages so that I may preach there too. This is why I have come.” So He went into all of Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
(Mark 1:29-39 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of King Herod, wise men from the east arrived unexpectedly in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”
(Matthew 2:1-2 Holman Christian Standard Bible ®©)
Israel was so unaware of the times and the intentions of Yahweh when Jesus was born that they didn’t know He had arrived until aliens from another nation came and told them. When He had matured and was about to begin His work in the nation of Israel, they again needed to be informed. This time, it was the last prophet that spoke to them in the line of “the prophets of Israel”: John, son of Zechariah.
When John the Baptist introduced Jesus, he said that He was the One Who would take away the people’s sin. When the magi introduced Him, it was as a King Who was worthy of worship.
Until we have received Him as both, we have not yet received Him for Who He is.