The book of judges can be summed up in a 4 word cycle – Sin, Slavery, Sorrow, Salvation. These 4 words sound great if they were a path to salvation… but they stink as a repeating cycle! Our story today is only one of a dozen similar stories in the book. Yet when God’s people turned to Him, He heard their cry and saved them.
12 Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, and because they did this evil the LORD gave Eglon king of Moab power over Israel. 13 Getting the Ammonites and Amalekites to join him, Eglon came and attacked Israel, and they took possession of the City of Palms. 14 The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years.
In Judges 3 we see Israel as they fall slave to their illegitimate cousins the Moabites of Canaan. Moab was the son of Lot and one of Lot’s Daughters, and his descendants became a thorn in Israel’s side and an embarrassment in their history. So when Israel rebelled YET AGAIN, it was time for God to show them their shame on a whole new level. This would be like Chuck Norris getting a swirly from a Elmo.
See the Israelites had to pay what was called a “tribute” to Eglon, the king of Moab. If they paid, he left them alone for a little while. If they did not pay, they got attacked by Moabite soldiers. Keep this tribute in mind as we read on. God will use this persecution as an occasion for victory!
15 Again the Israelites cried out to the LORD, and he gave them a deliverer—Ehud, a left-handed man, the son of Gera the Benjamite. The Israelites sent him with tribute to Eglon king of Moab. 16 Now Ehud had made a double-edged sword about a foot and a half long, which he strapped to his right thigh under his clothing. 17 He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man.
Interesting set up, eh? Ehud’s Dagger, a short swift sword, was a one of a kind instrument. Let me ask you to consider this: What are some strange things you’ve made? What are some unique things can you do?
God often intervened directly with the enemies of Israel. Think of Pharaoh’s army which God destroyed when the Red Sea collapsed on them! In this story, however, God uses Ehud’s unique skills to bring freedom to Israel.
18 After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way the men who had carried it. 19 At the idols near Gilgal he himself turned back and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” The king said, “Quiet!” And all his attendants left him. 20 Ehud then approached him while he was sitting alone in the upper room of his summer palace and said, “I have a message from God for you.” As the king rose from his seat, 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king’s belly. 22 Even the handle sank in after the blade, which came out his back. Ehud did not pull the sword out, and the fat closed in over it. 23 Then Ehud went out to the porch; he shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them.
Meanwhile the servants of Eglon are wondering if they need to toss him a newspaper…
24 After he had gone, the servants came and found the doors of the upper room locked. They said, “He must be relieving himself in the inner room of the house.” 25 They waited to the point of embarrassment, but when he did not open the doors of the room, they took a key and unlocked them. There they saw their lord fallen to the floor, dead.
Undoubtedly one of the most disgusting deaths in the Bible, Ehud had to make his stab count. No one had ever mustered up the courage the face the iron grasp of this heavily guarded King. Yet Ehud took his own life into his hands knowing that God was behind his plan. Though certainly we don’t get sent on a mission from God to assassinate an evil King, we can still learn a lot from the rest of the story.
26 While they waited, Ehud got away. He passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. 27 When he arrived there, he blew a trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim, and the Israelites went down with him from the hills, with him leading them.28 “Follow me,” he ordered, “for the LORD has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands.” So they followed him down and, taking possession of the fords of the Jordan that led to Moab, they allowed no one to cross over. 29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not a man escaped. 30 That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years.
Israel fell into sin, faced slavery, felt sorrow, and finally repented… and God saved them! He could have used anyone, but He chose to use Ehud. So what can we put in our spiritual armory from this lesson?
First, Ehud gave God the glory for the victory. In verse 28 he said “the LORD has given Moab into your hands”. He could have taunted them that HE finally did what THEY failed to do. He could have at least thrown in a quick “I just took out the King single handedly… LEFT handedly”. instead, Ehud stayed centered on the source of his power.
Secondly, Ehud used his unique traits just as God made him. He could have tried to be like Moses and come before Eglon hoping God would use a miraculous Plague of Flies to attack the king, but that wasn’t what God made him to do. He was a sword maker and a south-pawed lefty leader. He was happy to be just the way God made him to be.
Applications: 1) Ehud gave credit to God and 2) Ehud stood confident in using his unique attributes for God
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