The name Ebenezer in today's world conjures up the character associated with the Charles Dickens story of Ebenezer Scrooge' in 'A Christmas Carol'.
However, when one looks into the Word of God, 'the Holy Bible', the term Ebenezer has a very significant meaning for God's chosen People Israel.
The first time the word Ebenezer is recorded in Scripture, is in 1Sam. 4:1. In that reference, "Israel went out to fight against the Philistines", and "they camped at Ebenezer" (which means "Stone of help") prior to the battle. Dr. Bullinger comments that this was in anticipation of the victory for Israel over the Philistines 20 years later (1Sam. 7:12), when they finally subdued the Philistines for a period. At that later time Samuel erected a stone calling it 'Ebenezer' (Hitherto hath the Lord helped us).
Israel was about to be taught a lesson by God, (1Sam. 2:27-36 & 3:11-14), due to the lapses of Eli the Priest, and his failure to censure his sons, who were "sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord", 1Sam. 2:12. Belial is one of the many veils of Satan activity, and is even occasionally a direct reference to Satan. The sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas were very corrupt, breaking the Priestly Rules (1Sam. 2:12-17), and even having sexual relations with the many women visiting the Tabernacle (1Sam. 2:22)! These corruptions by the Priests were setting a totally wrong example to Israel, and a sharp lesson was needed, so as to pull the people back to the teachings and example of Moses!
Hophni and Phinehas were clearly affected by their proximity to the Philistines and their gods and Satanic practices. The Philistines were originally the descendants of Ham the son of Noah, and were almost certainly infiltrated by Nephilim, as indicated by Goliath and other very large creatures, (1Sam. 17:4 & 2Sam. 21:20). Their purpose was to destroy and genetically pollute Israel, and to nullify the promise of God's Messiah as given in Gen. 3:15! See: Nephilim, who were they, and why?:
Samuel had been raised to prominence by the beautiful faith of his mother Hannah (1Sam. Chps. 1 and 2), and his purpose was to be God's servant in the correction of Israel, and to eventually inaugurate the monarchy of Israel under the guidance of God's instructions.
"The word of Samuel came to all Israel" (1Sam. 4:1), and clearly his authority was established by God! When he in the same verse put the marker "Ebenezer" in the record of Israel's history in Scripture, it was a profound moment in process of changing Israel's direction and understanding to the truth of God, instead of that of Belial (Satan)!
After the event of 1Sam. 4:1, and the establishment of the "stone of help"; for the next 20 years, fighting between Israel and the Philistines was constant, and in 1Sam. 5:1, the Philistines took the Ark of God (God's representative Presence) from Ebenezer to Ashdod. This gave the Philistines numerous problems, and they realised that whilst they kept the Ark of God, they would suffer, and their god 'Dagon' underlined the point by being on his face every morning before the Ark, (1Sam. 5:3-7)!
Israel were without the Ark of God for 20 years, and they requested that Samuel pray for them. He told them in 1Sam. 7, that if they put away their false gods, and served the Lord only that He would deliver them from the Philistines. At this point the children of Israel did as Samuel had instructed them and returned to serving the Lord only. Then Samuel gave them direction on what they should do which was to 'pray, fast and acknowledge that they had sinned against God'. Here is one of the many examples of the will of the people being tested; and the positive result when they chose to revere and obey Jehovah!
As they went out to battle against the Philistines the people of Israel asked Samuel to continue to pray for them, and in verse 11 they won a great victory over the Philistines, and Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and called the name Ebenezer, saying, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us".
There are many times in the Bible that a stone has been used as a reminder of how God helped Israel. The stories of Noah, Joshua, Jacob, and Samuel are just a few.
Of course the ultimate stone is Christ Himself. In Isa. 28:16. "Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone tried, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation, he that believeth shall not be dismayed".
Also in Psm. 118:22. "The stone which the builders refused is become the head of the corner”. This stone is the Messiah.
Only when Israel see what they did to their 'Stone, their Messiah Zech. 12:10', will they realise their failure of the past, and in that future day turn to Him who they rejected at Calvary's cross, and again at Acts 28:25-28! As in 1Sam. 7:12 will they then be able to say "hitherto the Lord hath helped us", He is our Messiah, the ultimate 'Ebenezer Stone'!
In the meantime, between Acts 28:28 and sometime in the future, many people are coming to the "Rock", (Matt. 16:18, referring not to Peter, but v16, the affirmation of who He is) by virtue of faith in Christ Jesus' death on that "accursed tree"; and claiming the vicarious victory for themselves that He won by His death and resurrection. Those are building The Body of Christ during this "time of the Gentiles": Ephesians 1:23, 3:6 and 5:30!
See: The Rock