1 Corinthians 1:18-31
‘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.’
Bean was small and insignificant, or so everyone thought. That was how he got his name. He was a street orphan in Rotterdam in the late 21st century. He was trying to join a gang but they saw how small and weak he was. Leader said you’re not worth a bean and the name stuck. Just a small weakling. But one person saw deeper. A sister working for a mission that feed the children. Government program to seek out gifted children, she saw him and saw the potential. Bean the small, the weakling, the insignificant saved the world from the aliens.
Science fiction story by Orson Scott Card. But the theme of a small insignificant from nowhere saving the world is common in fiction. It is also common in the Bible. I want to look at one such story, the story of Ehud. Let’s turn to Judges 3.
God can use the obscure, the disabled and the disadvantaged
The Israelites cried out to the Lord gave them a deliverer, Ehud, a left-handed man.
Wait a minute why does it say he was left-handed. Why not the Lord gave them a deliverer, Ehud, he had brown hair or the Lord gave them a deliverer, Ehud, he had a big nose, well he was a Jew he probably did or even the Lord gave them a deliverer, Ehud, he had brown eyes.
In the past people looked down on left-handed people. Some of you who are left-handed might remember being forced to try to write with your right hand at school. In Biblical times it was worse people who left-handed were looked down on even more. It was seen as a disability. People didn’t like left-handed people. Yet this was the one whom God choose to deliver his people.
Left-handed people were looked down on, it was thought to be a disability.
So with apologies to anybody who is left-handed, but for this sermon we are going to treat left-handedness in this story as it was in the days it was written as a deformity. Although we now recognise this as not true.
Modern equivalent might be
The Scots cried out to the Lord, and he gave them a deliverer, Edward, an Englishman.
If all the Israelites were gathered together and put through tests to see which one people considered to the best choice to free them, Ehud would not have been in the top ten.
But Israel didn’t do the picking God did and he chose Ehud, a left-handed man.
It doesn’t matter what we are like; God can still use us.
Moses, murderer in exile
Jephthath’s bad background and his big mistake.
Can anything good come out of Nazareth? Jesus. Isaiah 52:14; 53:2-4
We shouldn’t look down on people and say what can they do? With God’s help anything He chooses.
It sometimes easy to look around at some new NTC students and say what on earth are they doing here. Sometimes I’ve thought about it myself, why on earth has God called me to this ministry, I’m a scientist, surely there must be better equipped people out there.
The Lord gave them a deliverer, Ehud, a left-handed man.
Low self esteem. Look at our selves and say what can God do with me?
Quite a lot.
Our bad backgrounds
Things you have done
Things you have said
Things that were done to you
Maybe for you it even is a physical deformity
But God can still use us
No matter what you think your faults or weaknesses are I can point to some one who was worse off and God still used. Are you a murderer, an outcast from society, someone who has refused to obey a direct command of God, God has used all of these and worse.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11a
God can use our weaknesses
Not only did God use Ehud despite his weakness he used Ehud’s weakness to get the victory.
The trick that Ehud uses we might think of as a bit simple or how on earth did he get away with it but you have to remember the culture of the day.
Ehud goes to the king to bring a tribute but he conceals a short sword or dagger on his right leg. Why is that so important? Well a right-handed man would draw a sword from his left leg, so they would check his left leg for a sword.
Why wouldn’t they check his right leg? Left handed people were looked down on so much that it was assumed that they would all learn to use their right hand, they wouldn’t go round advertising the fact that they were left-handed by fighting with their left hand.
Imagine the scene, Ehud tells Eglon, I have a message for you from God, Eglon ‘tell all’
Ehud ‘It’s a secret message only for you O great king’
Eglon, just received tribute feeling pretty good, ‘OK everyone out, no not you Ehud’
Ehud ok, puts right arm round Eglon’s shoulder, (right arm sword arm, safe) ‘here’s the message from God’ and lifts his left arms and plunges in the dagger.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 …
God can use weaknesses.
Paul said his weakness enabled God’s power to be shown ‘for my power is made perfect in weakness’
Have you ever been in the situation were you are playing table tennis against someone who is really really good. Then after about the 3rd successive game in row, you manage to get about 12 or 13 points before they beat you and you’re feeling quite good and then suddenly you notice as he gets 21 for the game that he’s be using his left hand and unlike Ehud he was right-handed.
In away that God’s way of showing how great he is to the world. Anyone can take a great speaker and communicator to achieve success but God takes the weak, the powerless and the disadvantaged and uses them to change the world.
1 Corinthians 1:26-31.
It’s as if God is saying to all those who want to stand against him I can beat you playing with my left hand.
Our natural tendency is to be ashamed of our weaknesses and to think I can’t do anything for God, but God says you’re weakness is just an opportunity for me to show you and the world how great I am.
In fact Paul says that there is a danger that we can become to self reliant and forget about God if we do not have weaknesses. I can identify with this.
When I’m doing university or college work, sometimes I can get complacent and think I can do this with ease and relegate God to a back seat. But when I’m ministering in the church, even preaching a sermon, I always feel inadequate and find my weaknesses exposed. It’s often then that I turn to God and reminded to place him at the front of my life because I need to depend on him, I can’t do it otherwise.
It is good to depend on God. That’s why Paul said I rejoice in my weaknesses because it forces me to rely on God.
We do need to be sensible though
Sometimes we aren’t skilled in an area and we should leave to those who are when they accept
No sense in keep repeating the same mistakes over and over when it’s obvious to everyone that we can’t do the job.
But we need to be reliant on God and we don’t need to be completely comfortable in a situation or think that we can handle anything that comes on our own before we try something, God is with us and we need to learn to rely on him.
In fact, do you the only type of person that God has real problems using. People how are self confident and think they can do it all on their own with out any help from God.
I have a novel and in it there is a Jew, named Sol, who philosophises on the relationship between God and mankind. He wants to show how humanity and has grown up and the relationship between God and mankind has changed so that if God wants to approach us now he should do on the basis on being equal and not demand our submission and dependence on him. While I’m sure not many of you would agree with Sol in his assessment of the situation there is sometimes an attitude amongst us that we can graduate from depending on God. You can’t. If Jesus needed to depend on the Father and the Holy Spirit, when he was here on earth you can be absolutely sure that we need to as well.
How do we learn to be dependent on God. Firstly, by prayer, by conversion with God about our plans, our methods and asking him to help and correct us. Secondly, by acknowledging that we do, we do with the help of God.
It doesn’t matter what your background is. It doesn’t matter what you have done in the past. God wants to use you.
God likes us. God wants us.
Sometimes we can think God puts up with us because God’s God and he has to love/accept us
But God really likes us. He really was willing to die so that we could live with him and he in us and considered it a good deal.
Whoever you are. Whatever you’ve done. God loves you, he wants you and he can use you.
For those who have gone the other way; that have you lost your dependence on God, what steps can you take to set that right? What can you do that will make you more reliant on God?