Summary: God often uses unlikely people and uncommon means to accomplish His purposes and fulfill His promises.
When Todd Beamer left his home at 6:15 a.m. on Tuesday morning for a business meeting in California, he had no idea that only a few hours later he would become an unlikely hero.
There was nothing in Beamer’s background that would have suggested he would become a hero that day. His life was a lot like so many others. He had attended college, where he played baseball and basketball, and earned a business degree. After earning his MBA degree a couple years later, he married his wife, Lisa, and eventually became an account manager for a software company. Todd and Lisa were members of Princeton Alliance Church where they taught Sunday School and worked in youth ministry. Most important of all, he was a staunch Chicago Cubs and Bears fan.
The day before Todd and his wife had returned from a trip to Italy, but instead of heading for San Francisco that evening for a meeting at the Sony corporation the next afternoon, he opted to spend time with his family and take a flight out the next morning. His flight, United Flight 93, was scheduled to leave Newark at 8:00 a.m., but it was delayed 52 minutes due to runway traffic delays.
At 9:28, while the plane was over eastern Ohio, it was hijacked by terrorists who took over the plane’s controls and turned it around and headed for the White House. Several passengers on the flight were able to make phone calls and learned about the two planes that had already crashed into the World Trade Center and another that had crashed into the Pentagon.
So Beamer and a group of passengers and flight attendants decided to act and came up with a plan to storm the cockpit and fly the plan into the ground before the hijackers could carry out their plan. Beamer and another passenger recited the Lord’s Prayer and the 23rd Psalm and then Beamer turned to the others and said, “Let’s roll.” Shortly after 10:00 a.m. that plane crashed into an empty field in Shankville, Pennsylvania at 580 miles per hour, only 20 minutes of flying time from its intended target, the White House. Everyone on board, including Todd Beamer and the other unlikely heroes, were killed.
Before that Tuesday morning in September 2001, no one could have imagined the team of unlikely heroes that would be gathered together that day. But the whole idea of unlikely heroes is not new at all. In fact, the Bible is full of stories of how God takes ordinary people and transforms them into unlikely heroes in order to accomplish His purposes and promises.
And although maybe you’ve never really thought of it in those terms, I believe God wants to transform every one of us in this room this morning into one of those unlikely heroes, very possibly in a way that you can’t even fathom right now.
So this morning, as we look at an account where God brings together three of the most unlikely heroes ever to accomplish His purposes, I want you to put yourself in that story. I want you to think of what it must have been like to be Deborah or Barak or Jael and to use those thoughts as a catalyst to get you thinking about how God might be wanting to use you.
Go ahead and turn in your Bibles to the book of Judges. You’ll find it right after the book of Joshua, where we left off on our journey through the Old Testament over a month ago.
The period of the judges lasted a few hundred years and it was a time of transition for the people of Israel. Under the leadership of Joshua, they had moved into the land that God had given to them in keeping with His promise to Abraham hundreds of year earlier. But now Israel existed more as a loose confederation of tribes. They did not have one leader like Moses or Joshua and they did not yet have a king who ruled over the entire nation.
During this time, the life of the Israelites is characterized by the same cycle which repeated itself over and over:
• The people did what was evil in the sight of the Lord
• God did exactly as He had promised and subjected all or part of Israel to the rule of surrounding pagan nations.
• The people cried out to God
• God raised up a deliverer who “judged” God’s people
• The land had rest
And then the cycle would repeat itself all over again.
In Judges 3, we read about the first two judges. The first judge, Othniel, delivered Israel from the hands of the king of Mesopotamia. The second judge, Ehud, delivered Israel from the king of the Moabites.