Ichabod or Ebenezer, two very different names we find in scripture. Two names that can either accuse us or affirm us. the question is, which one best describes our walk with our God?
We find Ichabod in 1Samuel 4:22. Israel had acted presumptuously by taking the Ark of God into battle. Now this was a common thing to do in ancient times. The warring factions would each carry a representation of their god into battle believing the stronger of the gods would prevail thereby giving that particular gods people the victory.
In Israel’s case, they had been recently defeated in battle. They presumed wrongly that it may have been since they didn’t have the Ark of the LORD with them. They may have been remembering the battle of Jericho. In that particular case, God himself gave the order to carry the Ark as the Israelites circled Jericho. Joshua and Israel were acting in obedience to the command of the LORD.
At this time in Israel’s history they were not being obedient to the LORD and the disobedience started with God’s priest Eli. Eli’s sons were living a life of sin while also serving as priests of God. People of that day were the same as we are today. They responded to fraud in the ministry and followed the leadership into sin. They had forgotten or ignored the promises of God given previously. Instead of coming to God in repentance and prayer, they tried to figure out their problem on their own. When we do things our way we risk the name Ichabod that is; “The Glory has departed from Israel”, or in our case we have broken fellowship with God.
We as humans are prone to do this. We look to ourselves for solutions to our needs rather than going to God and then waiting on God. Two of the greatest examples of this are Abraham and Joshua. Abraham listened to his wife and didn’t wait on God’s promise. (Genesis 16) The result was Ishmael and the still on going misery we see today from the result of that sin. Then we see Joshua making a covenant with the Gibeonites in Joshua 9. Joshua’s problem was simple, he never asked God about these apparent travellers from “a distant country”. Why is this an issue? Exodus 34:12 -16 “Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. “But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim—for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God— otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods”.
Now we understand that both Abraham and Joshua were men after God’s heart, but they were still men. They fell into Adam’s sin, that is, running their own lives and not allowing God to lead. They, like the Israelites of Samuel’s time were guilty of the sin of presumption.
Now move forward to Samuel 7. Here we see how to live before God and seek His will. Samuel led the revival and repentance of Israel. As much as Eli misled the people, Samuel led them correctly. They put away their idols, fasted, prayed and repented. They were still scared of the Phillistines, but they went on into the battle asking Samuel to be in constant prayer. The result was; “Now Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, and the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines and confused them, so that they were routed before Israel”. 1Samuel 7:10 What a difference a prayer makes. By the way, the Ark of the LORD was nowhere in sight.
As a result of the battle a lesson was learned. Samuel set up a memorial stone to remind the Israelite nation of God’s help. He raised his Ebenezer, that is “the LORD has helped us”. This stone may be considered what Hebrews refers to as “types and shadows of things to come” or a Christophany ( an image that represents Christ).
In the New Testament Christ is referred to as a cornerstone, Matt 21:42; a stone of stumbling and offense, Matt 21:44. We the church are the stones built upon Him.
Now as to our daily walk with Christ, which name most describes your walk with Christ?
Is your current condition like Ichabod? You feel so alone that you think God has deserted you? If that is the case, turn around and repent. Let your walk with God be revived and renewed. Turn around He’s waiting on you.
Is Christ your Ebenezer? Praise God, do not take it for granted. You were created with a purpose. God has a plan for you. Keep seeking and serving.
If you are lost and separated from God, then I leave you with this. Your life will never have any meaning apart from Christ. Turn to Him in faith, trusting Him only to save you. Let him become your Ebenezer.