I'VE GOT TO HAND IT TO YOU JUDGES 3:12-30 Series: Heroes of Faith - Part One Pastor Stephen Muncherian June 12, 2005
beginning a study from the Book of Judges.In a bit we’re going to come
to Judges 3 - starting at verse 12 - the account of
Ehud.But, before we come
there I’d to place Judges for you in the history of
the Old Testament and to share some of why we’re
looking at this book.
The Book of Judges comes complete with a set of
bookends.The first and
last verses of the book summarize the whole of what
this book is about.Chapter
1:1 - the first bookend - says:Now it
came about after the death of Joshua that the sons of
Israel inquired of the Lord, saying “Who shall go up
first for us against the Canaanites, to fight them.”
When Joshua died.This
warrior who had seen so much in his life.The slavery of Egypt.The wilderness wandering.The conquest of Canaan.In obedience to God - the
settling of the Promised Land - dividing it among the
Twelve Tribes.This great
man of steadfast faith who had lived so close to God.
As Joshua is dying he calls the elders of the tribes
together - challenges them with these words:“Choose
for yourselves today whom you will serve - remember these?Choose
for yourselves today whom you will serve:whether the gods which your
fathers served which were beyond the River - in Egypt - or the
gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but
as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
The sad reality is that when Joshua died there really
was no one who stepped up to take his place - no one
else who was willing to give themselves wholeheartedly
to serve the living God.As
Judges 1:1 puts it - there was no one to “go first” -
to lead the fight against their enemies - setting the
standard of obedience to the sovereign God.After Joshua died God’s
people choose to worship other gods.They sold out.They
with me, “They compromised.”
A true story.Maybe
you’ve heard this.A man
- down in Long Beach - went into a Church’s Fried
Chicken to get some chicken for himself and the woman
the manager of the store handed the guy the box in
which he’d placed the financial proceeds of the day.Apparently he was going to
make the deposit and had camouflaged it by putting the
money in a fried chicken box.
This man takes the box - goes back to the car - and
this couple drives away.When
they get to the park and open the box - they discover
this box full of money.There’s
this very real moment - to keep the cash or to not
keep the cash.
The man and this woman take the money back to Church’s
and give it back to the manager.The manager is relieved - excited - grateful.
The manager tells them, “Stay
here.I’m going get your
picture - call the newspaper.You’re
the most honest guy in town.”
The man says, “Oh no, don’t do that.”
“Why not?” asks
the man, “You see, I’m married and this
woman is not my wife.” (1)
The Book of Judges covers a period of about 330 years.During that time there are 7
complete cycles of sin - of compromise.The book is a testimony to our ease of
wandering away from God.The
cycles run like this.First,
Israel would sin in the sight of God - idolatry -
paganism - immorality.Second,
God would send punishment - war - captivity.Something to get His people
to turn back to Him.Third,
Israel would cry out to God.Fourth,
God would send a Judge - someone to deliver them.Fifth, Israel would enter a
time of peace and rest.
Does that sound familiar?Put
your name the place of Israel.Steve
evil in God’s sight.God
hits Steve over the head with a 2X4 to get my
out to God.God delivers
Steve - the greatest deliverer being our Savior,
Jesus.Then Steve goes on
living close to God until he chooses to again
compromise with sin.
Seven times that cycle is repeated in Judges.Until finally the last verseof the book - chapter 21:25
- the closing bookend:In those
days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what
was right in his own eyes
I was at Burger King the other morning and ordered
cinni-minis.Have you had
cinnamon rolls that come in a small box with icing.Listen to the promo - what
was written on the box top of these cinni-minis.“Opening
this box is the first step to having things your way
today.Or maybe ordering
it was the first step and this is the second step.Either way eating it is
definitely the next step.So,
soon you will be three steps into having everything
your way today.Keep it
When everyone does whatever is right to them there’s
no standard.Lies and
truth - righteousness and evil - what’s the
works to my advantage is okay.Does
that sound familiar?
Isn’t that at the core of what troubles our society -
marriages - families?Self
- unyielded to God?Even
in the church - God’s people struggle with this.We’re tempted to serve - or
attend - or participate - when its to our advantage to
What our study of Judges is about - is seeing Heroes
Of Faith - the judges here in this book - ordinary
people that God used - despite themselves.Seeing them as examples for
us - learning to live without compromise in a
Which brings us to Ehud.Ehud
comes on the scene after the first cycle of sin is
circle is complete.”Compromise and deliverance.For 40 years - one complete
generation - God’s people have been living in
obedience to God.God has
blessed them with peace.
us to Judges 3 - starting at verse 12.What I’d like to do is read through this
account.Then we’ll come
back and make two practical applications for our
Verse 12:Now the
sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the
Step One - God’s people sin and really make a mess of
So the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab
against Israel because they had done evil in the sight
of the Lord.And he
gathered to himself the sons of Ammon and Amalek; and
he went and defeated Israel, and they possessed the
city of the palm trees - Jericho.The sons
of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen
Step Two - God hits His people with a 2X4 - in this
The Moabites were descendants of Lot - descended from
Lot’s older daughter.These
are cousins.The lived
just east of the Dead Sea.They
were continually causing problems for Israel.The Ammonites are descended
from Lot’s younger daughter - more cousins.The Amalekites lived in the
from Esau - more cousins.
God allows Eglon to get the relatives together -
defeat Israel - capture the prize city of the area -
Jericho - and for 18 years Israel is made to bow down
and serve their cousins.
Verse 15:But when
the sons of Israel cried to the Lord, the Lord raised
up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the
Benjamite, a left-handed man.And
the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the
king of Moab.
Step Three:God’s people
cry out to God.
Step Four:God raises up
a deliverer - Ehud.
There are three things about Ehud that we don’t want
to pass by.First,
He is the son of Gera - the Benjamite.The
tribe of Benjamin - which was located right next to
Moab - had a significant stake in the occupation.Jericho was located in the
territory of Benjamin.This
Second, the Bible highlights that Ehud was left-handed.He’s
part of a minority.A
looked down upon minority.The
word “sinister” in English comes from a Latin word
that means left-handed.Up
until recently - even in this country - someone who
was left-handed was trained to use their right hand.Being left handed meant that
something was wrong.Ehud
is different.And, in the
culture of the day - he’s different - but not in a
Third - notice that Ehud was the one selected to bring
the tribute -
the taxes - to Eglon.Its
hard to imagine a more despised position - having to
take what was extracted at spear point from your own
people - and give it cheerfully to Eglon.We have a word for people
like this.They’re called
Verse 16:Ehud made
himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length - about 18 inches - and he
bound it on his right thigh under his cloak.
If you’re right-handed - like everyone is suppose to
be - your dagger would be strapped onto your left leg.So when we draw it - we pull
it out in one easy motion without cutting our leg off.But, Ehud is left-handed.So while the
guards are searching his left leg - Ehud’s dagger is
safely hidden on his right leg.
presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab.Now Eglon was a very fat
man.How fat is Eglon?Hang onto that question.
It came about when Ehud had finished presenting the
tribute, that he sent away the people who had carried
the tribute.But he
himself turned back from the idols which were at
Gilgal - a
place on the way heading from Jericho towards
Jerusalem - and - Ehud - said, “I
have a secret message for you, O king.”And he -
Eglon - said, “Keep silence.”And all who attended him
Verse 20:Ehud came
to him while he was sitting alone in his cool roof
chamber.And Ehud said,
“I have a message from God for you.”And he arose from his seat.
Now - this it the part where we have to tell people
that things get graphic.So,
if you’d like to step outside for a minute and get a
Starbuck’s and then come back - you’ve been warned.
stretched out his left hand, took the sword from his
right thigh and trust it into Eglon’s belly.
How fat is Eglon?Now’s
your chance:“How fat
is Eglon?”He’s so fat that - the
handle also went in after the blade, and the fat
closed over the blade, for he did not draw the sword
out of his belly - he couldn’t - and the refuse came out.You were warned.
Then Ehud went out into the vestibule and shut the
doors of the roof chamber behind him, and locked them.
Verse 24:When Ehud
had gone out, Eglon’s servants came and looked, and
behold, the doors of the roof chamber were locked; and
they said, “He is only relieving himself in the cool
room.”They waited until
they became anxious; but behold, Eglon did not open
the doors of the roof chamber.Therefore
- because they
couldn’t take it any longer - they took
the key and opened the doors, and behold, their master
had fallen to the floor dead.
Don’t miss that.In
contrast to Ehud’s cunning and cleverness and bravery
is this fat dim-witted hedonistic complacent king who
has no clue of the danger before him or how
incompetent the guards are that he’s trusted his life
Three times in verses 24 and 25 is the word “Behold.”In Hebrew it has the idea of,
“Whoa!!” - astonishment - surprise.The guards are surprised that the door is
locked.Which means that
the king locking the door was unusual.But they never sound the alarm.
After what was way too long a time finally they start
to get suspicious.Nothing
gets past these guys.How
long does it take for a person to “relieve
oneself in the cool room” before we might get
suspicious that something is wrong?
Finally they open the doors - with the key.These best of the best
guards take the time to get the key.If this was Hollywood they would have crashed
through the doors.And,
surprise - surprise - the king is dead.
Hold onto that image.The
competency of Ehud - the foolishness of his enemies.
Verse 26:Now Ehud
escaped while they were delaying - He kills the king and they
let him escape.They had
passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah - he’s heading north to the
came about when he had arrived, that he blew the
trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons
of Israel went down with him from the hill country,
and he was in front of them.Ehud
said to them, “Pursue them, for the Lord has given
your enemies into your hands.”So
they went down after him and seized the fords of the
Jordon opposite Moab, and did not allow anyone to
cross.They struck down
at that time about ten thousand Moabites, all robust
and valiant men; and no one escaped.
Again the Bible emphasizes the contrast.Look how the ten thousand armed to the teeth -
having subdued Israel for 18 years - Moabites - look
how they’re described.Robust.Valiant.How many escape?None.
Why?Because the Lord
leads them to the slaughter.It’s
like a roach motel.The
roaches go in.But they
don’t come out.The
Israelites capture the escape route - the fords
between Jericho and Moab.The
Moabites trying to cross the river to get home just
keep getting killed.Do
the Moabites learn?Do
they go around?No they
just keep walking into the trap and getting
Verse 30:So Moab
was subdued that day under the hand of Israel.And the land was undisturbed
for eighty years.
Step Five:Peace - rest.
Two practical observations - how all this relates to
compromise in a compromising world.
importance of sizing up our enemy.
The minute this despised left-handed Benjamite kills
off the king the enemy crumbles.Over and over we’re shown how foolish - how
incompetent - how weak is the enemy.
So many of us live bound up in fears and habits and
pressures.We assume that
there is no way out of our sin or our circumstances.That we’re obligated by our
nature to compromise with the world around us.We go on and on bringing
tribute to a fat self-serving king.
Do you remember 1 John 4:4?“You are
from God, little children, and have overcome them;
because greater is He who is in you than he who is in
We’re God’s kids.Children
of the Almighty God of creation.Why are we afraid?
the devil and he will flee from you.”That’s a
promise from the One who is our deliverer.
When we’re tempted to compromise - to submit - to wimp
out.Think about who the
enemy is.A - by the
cross of Jesus Christ - defeated enemy.We don’t have to go there.
Second thought of application:The
importance of trusting God.
The fifth part of the cycle of sin is what?Living with God in peace.God’s blessing.In the account of Ehud - 80
years - two complete generations living within God’s
trusted God - allowed God to use his uniqueness -
rather than live in fear.
Is there a lesson there for us?Sure.
Where are you in the cycle of sin?You might want to skip the getting whacked with
a 2X4 part and just go on to the trusting God - peace
- blessing - part.
Whatever you’re struggling with.Whatever seems powerful to you.Trust God.His
grace.His mercy.His love.His forgiveness.He’ll
give you the strength and healing that you need.He will do in you and
through you what is beyond what we can possibly
imagine for ourselves.