By: Darrelyn L. Tutt

"Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.
So the Philistines were subdued and they came no more into the coast of Israel; and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel."
1 Samuel 7:12-13

Today's Read: 1 Samuel 7-8; Psalm 20
The Philistines were an arch enemy and a formidible and unrelenting foe throughout Israel's history.
Once again, we witness issues arising in the atrophied life of Israel ... and once again we witness the faithfulness of the Supreme Captain and Warrior of Hosts, God Almighty, sufficiently displaying His glorious and absolute power as "Head and Ruler" over His people Israel.
Israel's acts of disobedience over a long period of years had brought internal and external defeat to them and, in a "show" of their removed life from God, the sacred "ark" lay hidden away in the home of Eleazor in Kirjathjearim.
The ark didn't belong there.
The ark represented the presence of God ... and its presence "removed" spoke of God's removed presence from Israel's life.
Things had to change.
Samuel, the notable and godly prophet, enters into this season of Israel's life as a breath of fresh air. With devoted and fervent love for God he urges the people to return to God by visibly casting away all forms of idolatry:
"And Samuel spoke unto all the house of Israel saying, If you do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord and serve Him only, He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth and served the Lord only. And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mispeh and I will pray for you unto the Lord."
1 Samuel 7:3-5
Responsive hearts reap the blessing of "joy restored" and "intimacy made complete" in the Lord.
Repentance remains the key to restoration and reconciliation with God.
It also earns His favor and garners His eye and ear.
The presence of one individual who steers others in a godly direction imposes significant blessing upon his life.
"Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth and one convert him; Let him know that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death and shall hide a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 1:19-20
Israel's heart turned back to the Lord ... and God's presence dwelt once more in their midst.
Reminding us ...
There is great power to be found in the forsaking of sin and there is great peace placed on the individual who makes it his goal to convert all those who have strayed.
God be praised and His name be magnified where individuals and churches are "living out" redemption and encouraging the presence of God to be truly "present" and active in their midst.
With such ... God is well pleased.
Victory attended to Israel's repentant state and God chose to magnify Himself wondrously through "thunders" that soundly defeated the Philistine oppressors and through a visible "crushing and conquering" of miraculous display on behalf of His chosen people Israel.
"And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel, but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines and discomfitted them, and they were smitten before Israel."
1 Samuel 7:10
The stone named "Ebenezer" was erected as a monument to God's faithfulness in "this place" and a visible rehearsal of God's dominant and prominent power lay solidly before Israel's eyes symbolizing God's sacred return and presence in Israel's life once more.
It is interesting to note that Ebenezer had previously been the site of former defeat to Israel (1 Samuel 4) and now it attests to an attained and true victory:
A victorious salute and visual declaration of God's absolute power and authority!
How very much like God it is to take a place of "past failure" and commit it as a chief place to declare His glory.
The work of God ...
This is His alone.
May He choose to display His "thunders" in the lives of all those who humble themselves and return to Him.
And may the "thunders" move gloriously against all those who insist on removing and stripping Him of His redemptive, restorative, and reconciling power.
To God be all glory.

Three Suggestions for Application and Activation:
1) Record the name of "Ebenezer" on a stone and praise God for the restorative aids and individuals He has met you with to bring you back into relationship with Himself.
2) Repent of all and any individuals or activities you are presently participating with which are hindering the power of God's presence in your life.
3) Pray for the power of revival to be at work and for the "safe return" of those who have errored in the way. Partner with them, pray for them, and stand by them as you witness the glory of His "thundering" presence once more.
God be praised.