They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Wedding at Cana

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”

“Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied, “My time has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
— John 2:1-11

The Wedding at Cana

The Wedding at Cana

“On the third day a wedding took place at Cana, in Gallilee.” This opening line in John 2, was a very simple statement to introduce Jesus’ first miracle, of turning the water into wine. Why did the writer put, “on the third day”, and is that important? Well, it turns out, like everything else in the Bible, that it does have significance and does mean something in the story. If you are like me, I bet you read right over it.

First of all, Jews did not name the days of the week with the names that we use. Thursday stands for Thor’s day, a pagan god’s day, and Sunday is the day of the Sun god , another pagan deity. The Jews would have never used those names. The Jews numbered their days to correspond with the days of creation. Day One was the first day of creation and corresponds with our Sunday, our first day of the week. At the end of Genesis 1:3-5 it says, “God created the light and it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” An interesting side note here is that this is why the Jews start their days in the evening, because God made evening first and then morning. Now read on for the second day-it says,”God separated the water from the sky and said, it was good”. If you will read carefully, on the third day, God created the land and plants and trees, and he said, “it was good”, twice! In the creation story, on the third day only, Tuesday we say, God had two “it is goods”! This would have been what they called a double blessing (for both the bride and groom). Because of this double blessing, religious Jews always tried to be married on a Tuesday! Now if you re-read the opening sentence in John 2 and you know the culture, we are being told that this wedding that Jesus is attending is the wedding of a religious Jewish family! It is so cool, when knowing something about the culture adds to the meaning of the story. We definitely need to read our text more closely and pay more attention to the culture.

Here I Raise My Ebenezer

"Stone of Help"

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the LORD helped us.”
— 1 Samuel 7:12

A line in the wonderful and popular old hymn, “Come Thy Fount of Every Blessing”, says, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, here by thy great help I come.” What is an Ebenezer? And, how do you raise one? What was the song’s author trying to convey by using these phrases? If we knew our Hebrew Testament better, we would easily catch the meaning that the song writer was trying to give to his listeners. Let’s take a look and see what we find.

During the time of the Judges in Israel’s history, the conquering of the Promised Land was often in danger of being a failure. Lack of strong leadership, and lack of devotion to YHVH had left the people in serious jeopardy. The Philistines, who were much more advanced technologically and militarily, were constantly routing the Israelite forces. During one particularly low point in the battles, Israel was in danger of being completely wiped out. Samuel, the judge who was leading Israel, summoned the people together and exhorted them to confess their wickedness, rid themselves of their foreign gods and commit themselves to YHVH only (see 1 Samuel 7:2-4).

The Israelites finally did what Samuel said – they got rid of their items that were keeping them from being wholeheartedly committed to the God of Israel. Samuel then had a ceremony where he poured water out before the Lord and had the people fast and confess their sins before the Lord and ask God to forgive them. God was gracious and forgave them for what they had done.

If you will continue reading the story (1 Samuel 7:7-11), you will see that God showed up in a powerful way and the Israelites were able to defeat and rout the previously unbeatable Philistine army. What had looked hopeless, turned into a mighty victory for YHVH and the Israelites.

To celebrate this change of heart of the people and the awesome display of power by YHVH, Samuel set up a standing stone at the battle site, and named the stone, “Ebenezer.” The word, “Ebenezer”, means ,”stone of help”, or thus far the Lord has helped us” (read vs 12).

So when the author of the song says, “Here I raise my Ebenezer, he was saying, “I have confessed my sins, gotten rid of the things that stand between me and God and I have asked for and received his intervention in my life. He has miraculously come and given me victory over my enemies, so to celebrate that I want to raise a standing stone to say to all who will look and listen, Here’s what God has done for me.”

I had heard that phrase in the song for years , but never took the time to find the meaning. If we only knew our Bible better! People are singing this song every week and not knowing what it is saying. They need to know the story and apply it to their walk. We need to confess our sins and get rid of the things that are standing between us and God. We also need to be that standing stone, that Ebenezer, to a world that needs to know about God. As we tell how God has helped us, we will be a witness to others so that the world may know that there is a God in Heaven and that he is active in our lives. Let’s raise an Ebenezer to our God and tell people how he has been our help!