Sunday, 29 November -0001 18:42

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Written by Peter Langbroek
It was a glorious day when they travelled the well-worn path between Mizpeh and Shen. They were a typical Israelite family. They were walking in the cool of the spring morning. Up ahead lay the rocky crag called Shen. Behind them stood the hill called Mizpeh. They were coming nearer. The children knew it. Sure enough. They stop. There it is: a rock.

Now the children must listen. Grandfather is about to speak. He tells the story. He points his finger up toward Mizpeh.

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The day was not as calm and bright as it is today. Up there, on the hill of Mizpeh, a large crowd of people covered the hill. And up at the top, next to the altar, stood Samuel. The people's faces looked weary and sad. They had not eaten for some time. Many stood, their hands up, faces turned upward toward the sky. Others lay prostrate on the ground. They were praying with deep sorrow and pleading with the Lord.

They came because the young prophet Samuel had given them hope. He told them to get rid of the idols of Baalim and Ashtaroth and prepare their hearts for the Lord in order to serve Him only. Samuel told them that God would deliver them out of the hand of the Philistines. They did what Samuel told them. Then Samuel said, "Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the Lord."

The people on the hill felt burdened by the severe hand of the Philistines who ruled over them. They had become slaves in the land God promised them. For twenty years the ark was in Kirjath-jearim in the house of Abinidab. The Israelites were confused and frightened. They felt the wrath of God against them for their sins. "Has the glory of God departed from us?" they wondered.

Just then, some frightened men came running. They shouted, "The Philistines are coming!" The news quickly rippled through the crowd. The people looked toward the crag of Shen. They saw them coming! The Philistines!

The men looked helpless. The women looked frightened. Some shrieked. Children began to cry.

On the top of Mizpeh stood Samuel, next to the altar. The crowd called out to him, "Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that He will save us out of the hand of the Philistines!" The crowd could see the army coming toward them--footmen and horsemen with grey iron swords.

Near Samuel was the seven-day old lamb. He took his knife and killed it. He cut the body into pieces and laid them on the altar. With his hands up, his eyes toward heaven, Samuel cried out to the Lord.

All the people saw what suddenly happen next. Dark billowing clouds spread over the sky while Samuel prayed. They heard and felt the peals of thunder shake the earth. Then they heard the confused and frightened screams of the Philistines who were coming near. They saw the bolts of lightening strike them. The Israelite men, in a swarm, ran down the hill towards them.

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Grandfather pointed his finger. He said, "They chased the Philistines all the way to Beth-car." Then he paused and looked at the stone in front of them. "Ebenezer", he said. "Samuel took a stone and put it here to remind us that up to this time the Lord has helped us."

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Boys and girls, that stone is no longer there. The scene I portrayed is from my imagination, though it did more than likely happen. But God's Word is with us, and the story (I Samuel 7) is a story that should make us stop and meditate. This New Year, 2002, is a perfect time to do so.

Let us stop and consider our sinfulness before God. He has enriched us with His promises and blessed us in countless ways. Still we constantly rebel against Him. We live for ourselves and surround ourselves with a myriad of idols. God is a consuming fire Who will not consider anyone innocent before Him.

Let us stop to consider the crowd of Israelites that surrounded the hill. They looked up to Samuel who offered a lamb while dark clouds enveloped the sky. The people came there with hope in the mercies of God--and He delivered them from their enemies.

What a mercy of God to think on and believe that God sent His Son, harmless and innocent as a lamb, to bear the wrath we deserve. Stop to consider that, daily, His Son in heaven, is crying out to His Father to deliver His people from their sins. The wrath of God was satisfied when Jesus died on the cross. God was pleased with His act of love.

When we've finished thinking of "Ebenezer"--the stone of help--let us in our thoughts, words and actions, live humbly before our God Who has hitherto helped us.

(Next Month's Story: It was a bright Spring day when Peter biked from school down Yale Road. He passed Carleton Street. He saw Tony biking on the other side of the road. His house was coming up. Peter stopped his bike. "Hi Tony," he shouted! Tony smiled and waved as he turned into the driveway of his home. Peter looked at the front door. Next to the door was a sign: "Ebenezer." He knew why it was there. His teacher and his mom told him. To find out why, read next month's Youth Page, D.V.)

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