Sermon delivered October 20, 2001 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Ehud and Eglon - The Power of the Left Hand

Judges 3:12-30

This morning I would like to speak to you about Ehud and Eglon, the power of the left hand. How many of you are underdogs? I love underdogs. If two baseball teams are playing, I'm usually for the underdog. I side with that type of people. Now, why do I do that? I guess, because I'm an underdog. The underdogs of life, when they make it, and they beat the professionals, I just feel like maybe they're acting in my stead and maybe that means that I'm going to be successful, you know, because we're all underdogs, aren't we? That's what our scripture says. Their victory give me hope that I can make it. Today we're going to begin a series on The Strength of the Weakest Link. Now, you think about that. We think about a chain and we say, "That weak link. I don't like that." Let me tell you the strength of the weakest link. In fact, we're going to have four sermons from the book of Judges.

If you want to come over here to Judges, this is where we're going to start. Joshua had conquered Jericho and thirty some kings who had been in Palestine had been ousted. God's people now lived in the promised land. But God did not live in their heart. Idols lived in their heart. They were worshiping idols. Look at Judges 17:6 (NKJV). Here's what they were doing. In those days, there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes. They didn't have any leadership. And, soon a whole generation that did not know God grew up. And they began to back-slide. They started worshiping idols and God's blessings stopped and they started to get into trouble and then they cried out to the Lord and He delivered them. And then another generation that didn't know God came to be, and they got into trouble and this cycle repeated itself over and over again.

Ehud was sent to save his people. How many times have you ever heard a sermon on Ehud? Do preachers preach on Ehud? They don't. He was born in the smallest tribe of Israel, the tribe of Benjamin. To make matters worse this man was born handicapped. His people were enslaved by a big old heathen king named Eglon. Judges 3 reports the sad predicament they were in. Judges 3:14 (NIV) The Israelites were subject to Eglon king of Moab for eighteen years. Eighteen long years they were subject to that man. Why were they in such affliction? Judges 3:12 tells us the root of the problem. 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.

Oh, If we only knew the ultimate results of our evil behavior. We do evil and we sin, and what happens? God can't bless us like He did. Because of their idolatry and sin, God gave them a prototype of Adolph Hitler. And this man ruled over them with an iron fist. Is it hard to imagine God doing such a thing? In fact this text says that God gave Eglon, this wicked king to them. God can give you something you don't like. Is that possible? Actually I think God did them a favor! You may say, "How could that ever be?" Well, their trouble was a wake up call from heaven. Actually when trouble comes in may not be bad.

I was out visiting in somebody's house and their other house had burned down and I got to thinking how nice the new house was and they might not have had a new house if their other one had not burned down. God allowed this as a wake-up-call.

God allowed Heathen hoards to attack Israel from the East side of the Jordan. They had taken full possession of the beautiful city of Jericho, the first city the Israelites had conquered. Now, Jericho was gone and now they were going backwards. That beautiful city. Had God lost control? No. God allowed it. God allows things to happen. You may say, "Here, I had this terrible disease. God is out of control." No, He allows it for a purpose. God is always in control of the destiny of the our nation. Why did the twin towers in New York go down? Was God out of control? No. God is in charge.

Is God out of control? No, you may be, but not God. You need to get with God and let Him be in control of your life again. Maybe you've got a trial that doesn't go away. Whatever the problem is, use that problem to get you back where god wants you to be. Maybe your family is suffering under a modern Eglon who is lording it over you. He dines and gets fat on what rightfully belongs to you. This enemy is destroying your children or your home. Something is leaching out your hope. If your situation is similar then listen to this story and take courage. The lesson of this story is for you.

You may say, I'm going through a divorce. This story doesn't apply to me." Yes it does. You're going through a great loss. Listen to this story.

Israel's bondage was very heavy. For the smallest tribe, Eglon was a very big problem. This five-hundred-pound Moabite king was lording it over them. He was dictating their life. He had total power over Israel. Who were these people from Moab? Well, they were cousins. Remember Lot's son? That's Moab. Remember how Lot's son came to be? That incestuous relationship that he had with his daughter. These were cousins, and his very name, Eglon, means a young male bull. How would you like to have that for a name? For eighteen long years this fat bull bullied God's people. He relaxed down there in their city, Jericho, a city he did not even build and grew excessively obese on their food that he did not grow. He lived the life of Riley while God's people worked like slaves.

Eglon did not worry about an uprising because he had confiscated all their weapons. The Philistines later did the same thing. 1 Samuel 13:19 - Not a blacksmith could be found in the whole land of Israel, because the Philistines had said, "Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears!" And Eglon was that smart. He obviously took all their swords away. He took all their spears away. They were defenseless. And maybe he even took the iron away. They didn't have any blacksmiths. He killed them all. So, all these back-slidden sinners could do was cry out to God. But God doesn't hear back-sliders, does He? Yes, He does! God hears back-sliders.

Let's look at Judges 3:15. (KJV) But when the children of Israel cried unto the LORD, the LORD raised them up a deliverer, Ehud the son of Gera, a Benjamite...

They had gotten lax. They had forgotten God. They had bowed down to idols. That brought into immense and terrible trouble. But one good thing about trouble is that it wakes us up! You begin to think, "What's going on here." Have you ever noticed how folk cry out to God when difficult times come? God heard His backslidden people and sent a deliverer! The solution to all the problems of our sad world today is in the coming of the Deliverer, Jesus. That's the only solution. People think that if we send troops over there that will be all we need to do. The only solution is Jesus Christ.

    What do we know about Ehud, the Redeemer?
  1. He was true to God, because God called him and he was willing to risk his life to do God's will.
  2. We also know that this man was handicapped. Verse 15 literally says he was hampered in His right arm (see Holy Bible from the Ancient Eastern Text by George M. Lamsa). Now I don't know what that means. (Lamsa say it was "crippled.") His right arm was dangling there, maybe it was withered somehow. He didn't have use of his right arm. The right arm is generally the strongest arm that you have. And so, he was handicapped. Therefore he had to use his left hand. He was a left-handed person, not by birth, but by choice. He had to be.
  3. He was not afraid. He was willing to risk his life to go in there and to take care of this terrible king. Just like Daniel's three friends went into that fiery furnace and didn't know if they would come out the other side. Ehud didn't know if he would rescue the people or not. He risked his life.
  4. He prepared for success. How did he do that? The bible says in Judges 3:16, 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.

He made a knife. Have any of you made a knife? Well, it's not easy I can tell you that. I made a knife. I have mine here. I made that knife six to seven years ago and I will tell you that it is not easy to make a knife. Mine has two hilts on it so that my finger can fit in there just right. It's hard to make a knife. Especially when you don't have any metal, and you don't have any anvil. How can you make a knife? Did he smelt the ore and make the bloom in his refractory. I mean, how did he do it? Dozens of questions come to my mind. How could a handicapped person make a knife, a knife eighteen inches long? How did he do that? How did he craft his weapon? It must have taken him a long time with no tools.

Judges 3:17. Notice what he did: He presented the tribute to Eglon king of Moab, who was a very fat man. Ehud may have volunteered to carry the tribute to the king in Jericho just for the reason that he could use his knife to deliver his people. He loaded the carts down with figs, grapes, pomegranates, grain, loaves of bread and other goodies to present to the already oversupplied ruler. And they were going to give these things to him.

Never underestimate the power of the physically challenged person, the handicapped. Ehud was a southpaw. He was left-handed. The Latin word for the left hand means malicious or evil. He lived beyond this. He was a liberator of his people. He used his handicap for God. If you are a handicapped person, never think that God made a mistake on you. No, God can use you. He used this person.

Have you ever noticed that God does choose the weak to take to deliver His people, to take on the strong. God uses the weak. It isn't always the valedictorians of the class. God sometimes uses those who make C's. God does not always heal the physically challenged, but He uses them for His glory. Remember, stuttering stammering Moses was used to liberate his people, Israel. Remember people like David overcoming great big Goliath? Remember Jesus chose ordinary fishermen as disciples. He should have chosen shepherds to take care of His sheep. But He chose fishermen. That's strange isn't it. Incapacitated Ehud took on big old Eglon.

It is a miracle when God uses ordinary people to do His work. But it's a greater miracle when God uses the weak to do His glory. 1 Corinthians 1:27 (NLT) Instead, God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. That's what Ehud did.

The Ehud's life was not the most qualified but he was willing use what they have to do the dirty work that some other Christians consider below their dignity. God puts them to work warts and all and uses them for His purpose. God chooses weak humble people as His stars. He can't use the arrogant and high minded. He can't use some of those who have blue blood. But He can use you. He can use the small. He can use the limited. Ninety nine percent of the Bible heros were not graduates from a biblical West Point or some famous University. If God has chosen you it is because you are weak enough.

Judges 3:18-21. After Ehud had presented the tribute, he sent on their way the men who had carried it. 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. 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, Ehud reached with his left hand, drew the sword from his right thigh and plunged it into the king's belly. The problem was gone, wasn't it.

The big bad bull buckled at the belly. The brawny biting blade badly broke the big barbarian boss. Remember that Ehud said he had a message from God for the king? He gave the message all right! Whenever you give a message, make sure they get the point!

When you think about it. He was left-handed. The blade was eighteen inches long, and it went clear in up to the handle. Imagine the practicing he must have done. Imagine the muscles he must have built up to accomplish that. Imagine the planning that he did.

Quickly, cloak and dagger Ehud made his exit. This Old Testament Robin Hood had preplanned his escape. Calmly he walked out the door and locked it behind him and left. It is said that successful leaders surround themselves with successful people. Contrast Brilliant Ehud to incompetent Eglon.

Notice the kings lousy guards. You talk about lax airport security here in the United States today. Ehud brought in an 18" knife under his robe! And He was allowed to meet alone with their king. The guards probably thought, what could a man with a withered right hand do? He is harmless. They were schooled to frisk the left side of every visitor for weapons. They never thought to frisk the right side because that wasn't the right place for a weapon.

I can't believe it! I mean, these guards didn't have a clue to what was going on. They thought their king-sized king was in the long process of relieving himself and by the time the security team woke up their king was dead. And Ehud was on his way to Ephraim.

Now, Ephraim was the biggest tribe. Ehud took a trumpet in his left hand and blew it long and loud. Soon a crowd of Israelites gathered around him. Judges 3:28 "Follow me," he ordered... And by the way, good leaders lead by example.

Verse 28. "for the LORD has given Moab, your enemy, into your hands." See how Ehud gives God all the credit. All victory still comes from God. 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. At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all vigorous and strong; not a man escaped.

Now, don't miss something in this verse. 10,000 elite special forces ground troops had held Israel hostage or 18 long years. These mighty warriors brought fear and quaking to the hearts of God's people. Yet they were all quickly struck down in one blow. Maybe in one day.

Friend, have you been cowering in fear about something? Maybe you have been paying tax to an oversized enemy for many years. Then please listen: Your enemy is weak! Don't cower there shaking in your boots thinking that your situation is a dead end street. Don't let sin defeat you. Don't let a bad habit hold you down. It is time to believe in the power of God instead of the power of the enemy! I John 4:4. Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

One incapacitated man and one knife and a powerful God all came together to end 18 years of enslavement in one day. What tool brought victory? A two-edged sword. What was that two edged sword? The great instrument which will set you free is the word of God. I will tell you that the Bible will bring you victory. Strap the word to your side. Forget your ailments and impediments. You need to spend time with the Word of God. You need to focus on God's power and success will come.

Friends, if the enemy has you down and your suffering is exceedingly difficult, don't give up. Listen for the faraway sound of a self-made blacksmith hammering out the instrument of deliverance. God has called him to gut the foe and set you free. I can imagine the far away sound of pounding of hammers hitting iron nails into the hands of Christ my redeemer. Deliverance is coming. Do not give up. The old Devil has gotten fat on us too long. But Jesus is coming. Soon the beloved city will be restored to us. We will walk its streets with our own feet.

Judges 3:30 That day Moab was made subject to Israel, and the land had peace for eighty years. Ehud became their judge ruling with strength and justice. He must have ruled a long time. One test of a good leader is endurance. The ability to stay by, the ability to keep effective. Ehud finished what he started. If you are effective as a Sabbath school leader then stay by it. Don't leave Jesus. Stay.

God has many ways to rescue His people. Some are left-handed ways, unconventional ways. But what an awesome God we serve. We are living in a grand and awful time, but we have a grand and awesome God!

Hymn of Praise: #616, Soldiers of Christ, Arise
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:27-31
Hymn of Response: #617, We Are Living, We are Dwelling


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