Summary: A study of moments that define our lives by examining the life of Shamgar
February 9, 2014
On July 2, 1863, one of the defining moments of American history took place. Arguably this moment saved the United States. The person behind the moment was Joshua Chamberlain, commanding officer of the 20th regiment from Maine. The place was just outside the small Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg on a hill called Little Round Top.
On the morning of July 2, Chamberlain and his regiment were assigned a pivotal role for the Union army. Chamberlain was given the task of defending the far left flank of the Union line. If Chamberlain was overrun, the Confederate army would be able to easily sweep the entire Union Army. Through the day, the 20th Maine was attacked repeatedly by the Confederates. Again and again, Chamberlain’s troops repelled the assaults. Finally, with many of his soldiers killed in the fight and ammunition depleted, another attack would break the flank and overrun the Union troops. The battle would be lost and the Army of Northern Virginia would have a clear path to attack Washington D.C. to demand the surrender of the North.
Chamberlain could not withstand another assault and he could not withdraw from his position. With the Rebel army beginning another advance, Chamberlain did something incredibly unexpected, he ordered a bayonet charge into the advancing rebel army.
There are moments in life that define our destiny. These moments reshape our future and shift the course of our lives. We all have moments like these, moments that leave our lives forever changed.
Here are a few examples:
Throughout the Bible there have been these defining moments that shaped the lives of people and even moments that redefined the nation of Israel.
After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel. Judges 3:31
The Philistine army was making a series of raids on the northern hill country of Israel. The purpose of their raids was to plunder the goods, money and crops and to pillage every village possible. The goal of the Philistines was to steal the treasures of Israel but also to incite terror in the heart of the nation.
The Philistines were extremely successful in this invasion because Israel was not prepared for a military invasion. Israel was unable to raise an army to give an adequate defense. This combined with other military problems Israel faced in the south allowed the Philistines to have free reign over the northern territory.
God would raise up judges to deliver the nation from their enemies. These judges were spiritual, political and military leaders. Judges would travel through the nation of Israel holding both public community meetings and private mediations. Many of the judges that we remember are military leaders: Samson, Gideon and Deborah.
Shamgar was a farmer
Shamgar is given one verse, one line of text. All of this amounts to a mere 17 words. What can we learn of any significance in such a short record of life? Shamgar was likely a farmer in the hill country of Israel and was called to defend Israel. God used Shamgar to accomplish great things, We need to remember that Shamgar was an ordinary man. He was not a soldier or not a leader. Shamgar wasn’t even armed properly because he was forced to fight with an oxgoad.
Shamgar was a fighter
What is an oxgoad? An oxgoad was a relatively long staff that included a metal point on one end and a metal paddle on the other. The point was used to help move oxen along when plowing and the flattened end was used to help clear roots and debris from the plow. God saw greatness in the ordinary farmer from the hill country and raised him up to deal with the Philistine problem. Shamgar killed 600 Philistines with that oxgoad.
Shamgar was faithful
During the time of the judges Israel often strayed away from God. There were periods of idolatry and spiritual wickedness. Shamgar remained faithful to God during a time of unprecedented disobedience. He was a man of faith in a generation that had turned their backs on God. The primary reason God chose Shamgar was because he was a man of faith. God needed Shamgar to turn that faith into action.
Shamgar was ready when God called
One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes. - Benjamin Disraeli
Shamgar was ready for the call of God when it came. He lived a life that followed God and made it his purpose to please God by his lifestyle. There would have been no greatness in Shamgar’s life if he had not consecrated his life long before the call of God came.