Summary: God uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary.
Book of Judges
Rev. Brian Bill
A couple weeks ago I was asked if I’d be willing to come to Champion Fitness to have my picture taken with some other people who work out there. I’ve been going to Champion for over seven years and I thought that they must have noticed what great shape I was in and wanted me to be the poster boy for bulk and brawn. When I arrived for my photo shoot, I joined about six other people, most of whom were older than me. We posed on the treadmills, then with some free weights. I was feeling pretty good about this until I heard someone mention that they wanted pictures of “middle-age” people. I guess that included me.
Towards the end of the time I posed like I was spotting for a guy on the bench press when I noticed a muscular-looking man throwing some weights around with ease. I turned to the person in charge and asked why they weren’t using him and she said, “We just wanted average and ordinary people for this photo shoot.” And then it hit me. They weren’t looking for a weightlifting champ; they just wanted pictures of an ordinary, average middle-aged guy…and I qualified.
As we finish up our study in the Old Testament book of Judges, that’s exactly the kind of pictures that God puts on display. We could say it this way: God uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary.
Last week we learned how to break the cycle of sin by looking at the mistakes made in the Book of Judges as everyone “did as they saw fit.” This morning I’d like to show you a photo gallery of ordinary and average people who accomplished some pretty extraordinary things. We’re going to go pretty fast so get ready to do some heavy lifting. My prayer is that you’ll see yourself in at least one of these leaders and that you’ll be encouraged to allow God to do the extraordinary in your ordinary life. If you’d like to go deeper in the Book of Judges, we have studied three of these judges in past years. You can access these sermon manuscripts online:
Deborah:(http://www.pontiacbible.org/sermons/models_of_mentoring.php?id=C0_534_103); Gideon: (http://www.pontiacbible.org/sermons/keep_story_alive.php?id=C0_216_64);
1. Othniel (good family). The first judge that God raises up is Othniel, who was Caleb’s nephew (Judges 3:9). He had a positive pedigree and no doubt benefited from having a good family but the key to his life is found in verse 10: “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him…” Under his leadership the land had peace for forty years. Some of you come from a great family. You’ve never really doubted your faith and you’re serving the Lord right now. I’m sure you already know that you have a unique heritage due to the godly influence of your parents. Othniel also demonstrates the importance of serving the Lord in the later years of life, as he was older than middle-age. Even though he was from a good family, he was still pretty average himself. God uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary.
2. Ehud (physical limitations). The second judge is a left-handed man named Ehud and he was raised up to deliver the Israelites after they had been subject to the king of Moab for eighteen years (Judges 3:12-30). How many of you are left-handed? If so, Ehud is your guy! Actually, it’s very likely he had some physical limitations because the Hebrew literally reads, “Hindered in his right hand.” Some studies have shown that there is a link between being left-handed and being a creative genius. That could be said of Ehud for he was very creative in how he took care of this king. Like many who experience physical limitations, he compensated by thinking of other things he could do. In his case, he made a double-edge sword and strapped it to his right thigh, where no one would look, and then used it to kill Eglon, the king of Moab. The details are pretty interesting so I encourage you to read them for yourself. Due to Ehud’s influence, the land had peace for 80 years – the longest period we read about in the Book of Judges (Judges 3:30).
Incidentally, the Bible is referred to as sharper than any double-edge sword in Hebrews 4:12: “…It penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Friend, do you have some kind of physical limitation? When General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army was told that he had lost his eyesight he said, “I have done what I could for God and for His people with my eyes. Now I shall do what I can for God without my eyes.” Joni Eareckson-Tada is another good example of someone who did not allow a limitation to limit what the Lord could do. A quadriplegic as a result of a diving accident, when she accepted what she was, the Lord began to use her as she was. Look to Ehud and be encouraged that a disability does not disqualify you from effectiveness because God uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary.