Scripture Text – Judges 3
The weapons we fight with as Christian soldiers engaged in spiritual warfare, are not the weapons of the world.
The Apostle Paul wrote along those lines to the believers in Corinth (2 Corinthians 10:4), reminding them of a principle every Christian needs to take to heart: When God goes to war, He usually chooses the most unlikely soldiers, hands them the most unusual weapons, and accomplishes through them the most unpredictable results.
God is still looking for men and women who have what it takes to win: power, strategy, and courage. These three essentials for victory are illustrated in this chapter in the lives of the first three judges.
Ehud: Effective Strategy
And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD strengthened Eglon king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD. Then he gathered to himself the people of Ammon and Amalek, went and defeated Israel, and took possession of the City of Palms. So the children of Israel served Eglon king of Moab eighteen years. – Judges 3:12-14.
Please continue reading Judges 3:15-30 for the background of this section.
Unlike Moses, who appointed Joshua to lead Israel, the judges didn’t have the authority to name a successor. When God called men and women to serve as judges, they obeyed, did His work, and then passed from the scene. One would hope that their godly influence would make a lasting difference in the spiritual life of the nation, but that just wasn’t the case. No sooner was a judge off the scene than the people were back to worshiping Baal and forsaking the Lord.
You would think that gratitude alone would have motivated the people of Israel to obey the Lord and be faithful to His covenant, especially after enduring the previous eight years of painful servitude. And think of all that God had done for Israel in the past! They would have been a forgotten little nation if God hadn’t loved them and chosen them for Himself (Deuteronomy 7:1–11). They would have perished in Egypt or in the wilderness if God hadn’t delivered them and cared for them. They would have died on the battlefields of Canaan if the Lord hadn’t given them victory over their enemies. They would have been wallowing in moral sewage if the Lord hadn’t given them His Law and the priests to teach it to them. They had God’s presence in the tabernacle and God’s promises in the covenant, so what more could they want?
Somewhere along the line the system broke down, and I think it was with the priests and the parents. The priests and Levites were not only to officiate at the tabernacle, but they also were to teach the Law to the people and encourage them to obey it. Jewish parents were expected to teach their children the ways of the Lord and be good examples for them to follow. During the period of the Judges, however, it appears that the older generation neglected the important ministry of instructing the new generation about the fear of the Lord (Psalm 34:11).
Eglon, the oppressor (Judges 3:12-14). The armies of Mesopotamia came a long distance to invade Israel; but the Moabites, Ammonites, and Amalekites were not only neighbors but also relatives of the Jews. Lot, the nephew of Abraham, was the ancestor of Moab and Ammon (Genesis 19:30–38); and Esau, the brother of Jacob, was the ancestor of Amalek (Genesis 36:12, 16).
Eglon, the King of Moab, organized the confederacy and set up his headquarters at Jericho, “the city of palm trees” – Deuteronomy 34:3. Jericho was under a curse (Joshua 6:26), and there’s no evidence that the city had been rebuilt; but the location was ideal for directing military operations, and there was an abundance of water there. For eighteen years, Eglon and his allies made life miserable for the Israelites. It must have been especially galling to them to be under the heels of blood relatives who were also their longtime adversaries.
Ehud, the deliverer (Judges 3:15-30). Othniel, the first judge, had come from the tribe of Judah. The second judge, Ehud, a left-handed man, came from Judah’s neighbor, Benjamin—the name “Benjamin” means “son of my right hand.” (The Benjamites were known for their ambidexterity. See Judges 20:16 and 1 Chronicles 12:2.) However, the text of Judges 3:15 can be translated “a man handicapped in the right hand,” which suggests that he was not ambidextrous at all but able to use only his left hand. If that indeed is the meaning of the text, then Ehud’s plan for killing Eglon was a masterpiece of strategy. It’s also a great encouragement to people with physical disabilities who may have the erroneous idea that God can’t use them in His service.
Ehud had several problems to solve, and he solved them successfully. At the top of the list was how to gain access to King Eglon without making anybody suspicious. He accomplished this by making himself the leader of the commission that brought the king his annual tribute. The paying of tribute not only added to the king’s wealth, which he would enjoy, but it also acknowledged the king’s authority over Israel; and Eglon would enjoy that as well. Of course, Eglon didn’t know that Ehud was God’s appointed leader to deliver Israel; otherwise, he would have had him killed on sight.
To Be Continued