Possessing the Promises (Judges #2)
Unknown, but not Unused: Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar
July 17, 2005
Summer time as a kid I watched many game shows
•Jokers Wild, 25K Pyramid, Price is Right, Family Feud
•Ask for most popular answers to a survey
•If Judges were ever a category I imagine Samson would win, Deborah, Gideon, Jephthah
•But these first three guys probably wouldn’t make the survey
•Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar
•Unknown but each used by God and each teach us something about possessing the promises of God
We also detect a cycle in the book of Judges that Israel goes through on a number of occasions:
Israel does evil in the eyes of Yahweh
Yahweh gives them into the hands of their oppressors
Israel serves the oppressor for X years
Israel cries out to Yahweh
Yahweh raises up a deliverer ( i.e., judge)
The oppressor is subdued
The land has rest for X years
Not only a cycle but a downward spiral. As time goes on the people get worse and worse.
People get worse and so do the judges
•The book ends with Samson who although delivered God’s people was hardly an example of morality.
•The earlier judges actually are closer to God while the people are closer to God.
•With that these three represent a more ideal judge than the later judges and Othniel, the first judge is considered by some the best of all the judges. Othniel is the model judge.
How can that be – Othniel’s story takes all of five verses to tell!
JDG 3:7 The Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD; they forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asherahs. 8 The anger of the LORD burned against Israel so that he sold them into the hands of Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram Naharaim, to whom the Israelites were subject for eight years. 9 But when they cried out to the LORD, he raised up for them a deliverer, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, who saved them. 10 The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war. The LORD gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him. 11 So the land had peace for forty years, until Othniel son of Kenaz died.
•Nothing negative is ever said
•No doubt, no immorality, no deception in his victory. Othniel is boring!
•God uses boring people!
•Othniel just did was he was asked to do – didn’t make a big fanfare out of it. Apparently just went about business and accomplished what God wanted him to do.
•Isn’t it ironic how we love to hear stories that contain immorality, deceit, doubt. Read the paper, read the news, watch the movies. People love to hear a story while people who are just doing good get no recognition.
•I think sometime we may make things more difficult on ourselves and God by making things exciting rather than just doing what we need to do!
Two ranchers were trying to impress each other with the size if their ranches. One asked the other, “What’s the name of your ranch?” He replied, “The Rocking R, ABC, Flying W, Circle C, Bar U, Staple Four, Box D, Rolling M, Rainbow’s End, Silver Spur Ranch!” Duly impresses the rancher said, “Wow! That’s sure some name. How many head of cattle do you run?” With a sad shake of his head, the rancher answered, “Not many. Very few survive the branding.”
•Too many times we are so busy trying to impress that we don’t get done what God wanted us to do. If you’re out to impress others, then you’re not going to possess the promises of God.
•Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:4
•Othniel reminds us that you don’t have to by #1 in anyone’s survey to be #1 with God.
We get a much more interesting story with Ehud 3:12-30
Here are the highlights
•Handed over to Moab – King Eglon
•People cry out to God and a deliverer is raised up – Ehud
•Mentions that he is left-handed
•Makes a sword and hides it under his clothing on his right thigh
•He goes to pay tribute to Eglon – he is a fat man
•He asks for an audience with Eglon claiming to have a message form God
•Eglon falls for this and Ehud approaches him and stabs Eglon and he dies
•Some interesting details that I’ll let you look up
•Anyway, Ehud leaves the room, locks the door, the servants wait to check on Eglon, and by the time they find him dead Ehud is long gone and has gathered an army of Israelites who go on to defeat Moab and the land has peace again.
Two views on Ehud
•Critical that he uses deceit - this is a sign of the moral decline of the judges
oEhud is trying to make a name for himself
•Others see him as a creative warrior for God. Using practical strategy to accomplish God’s work. Being left handed the guards would search his left side and not his right. Ehud’s strategy should be imitated.
I don’t know where to stand on this but let me make this point that I think applies in either case.
•Ehud does not allow an oddity – being left-handed – into an excuse for doing nothing.
•Left-handedness has historically been seen as an oddity, almost a handicap. People were encouraged to correct their children. Even seen by some as being a sign of evil! You might say that left-handed people were discriminated against.
•Ehud may have faced some of that discrimination. Some even think that Ehud may have had some handicap in his right hand that required him to learn to use his left. Nevertheless, Ehud didn’t allow being different from serving God.
•Sometimes we allow our handicaps or perceived handicaps to discourage us from serving God. Some of us may have been told by others that we’re useless and have believed that and have failed to serve.
A woman walked to work past a pet store. One day a parrot called out to her as she passes and said. “Hey lady, you’re ugly.” She was upset but blew it off. Same thing happened the next day. She got a little angrier but went on. The third day same thing. She went into the store and told the owner who had a talk with the parrot. The next day she passes by, “Hey lady.” She looks at him says, “Yes.” The parrot said, “You know.”
•Sometimes we hear things over and over again we begin to believe it. You can’t do this that, don’t even try … on and on.
•God uses people who have shortcomings – Moses, Paul, Ehud! Ehud reminds us that God uses different people. If you want to possess the promises of God do not let your handicaps keep you from stepping up to the plate!
JDG 3:31 After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an ox goad. He too saved Israel.
Shamgar is one of the minor judges – very little is said of them.
An interesting note – his weapon, an ox goad.
A stick used to guide the oxen, but not a weapon.
This may have been the result of a strategy of the Philistines to prohibit the making of weapons.
1SA 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!"
God makes the enemy look foolish – they lose to a guy with an ox goad. God and an ox goad are better than 600 Philistines.
First of many improvised weapons.
JDG 4:21 But Jael, Heber’s wife, picked up a tent peg and a hammer and went quietly to him while he lay fast asleep, exhausted. She drove the peg through his temple into the ground, and he died.
JDG 4:22 Barak came by in pursuit of Sisera, and Jael went out to meet him. "Come," she said, "I will show you the man you’re looking for." So he went in with her, and there lay Sisera with the tent peg through his temple--dead.
JDG 15:15 Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.
JDG 15:16 Then Samson said,
"With a donkey’s jawbone
I have made donkeys of them.
With a donkey’s jawbone
I have killed a thousand men."
•Shamgar reminds us that God uses people with limited resources.
I golf. Get golf catalogues. Know that better equipment I could golf better. Might be true, but not with God. God can use what you have and make it effective. To possess the promises of God use what you have, as limited as it may seem!
•Othniel - Serve without seeking recognition.
•Ehud - Serve in spite of real or perceived weaknesses.
•Shamgar - Serve in spite of limitations.
When we surrender to Jesus Christ we gain the victory