Judges 3-4:5 - Skip Heitzig
Calvary Church is dedicated to doctrine, and we want you to experience a life change that comes from knowing God's Word and applying it to your life. So we explain the Bible verse by verse, every chapter, every book. This is Expound.
Father, this is your Word, and we depend on your Spirit at work in us. We are going to read about events that happened so long ago in places that are hard to pronounce by people whose names are unfamiliar to us, and it might seem at the surface to be irrelevant.
Yet, we do remember that Paul said all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable. So Father, we prayed that we would profit from the principles that we glean along the way. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
The Book of Judges, we started the first couple of chapters last week. We kind of moved our way quickly through the second chapter. But we talked about the role of a judge. And let me just reiterate a couple of things and maybe augment a couple of those things mentioned.
When we talk about the judges in this book, we're not speaking about a judgemental person. We're not speaking about a Matthew chapter 7 verse 1 type of individual, "judge not that you be not judged." Not somebody who thinks censoriously of another or ill of another or compares another to himself or herself. That is not the meaning of a judge in that sense.
Nor is the role of a judge, in a Western sense, of somebody wearing a robe with a gavel in hand, sitting behind a bench, adjudicating a case or a person in a set of events. We're not speaking of that in a judicial sense, but in a military sense, almost.
Even though the judges in the Old Testament did have a role of adjudication, judges in the Old Testament sat at the gates of the city. They would hear, along with the elders of the town, about events and make a judgment when it came to people's property or a murder or a number of things that would be considered legal issues.
The main idea of these judges in this book are local deliverers, local saviors, those who would contend with somebody or for somebody else who needed that contention, somebody who would intervene and lead them out of a particular trial or mess that they were in, even an avenger that the Lord would raise up.
And let me just say, the 13 judges in this book are odd. They are curious individuals. We probably wouldn't pick them for much of anything, by and large. Not all of them. There were some better ones and some worse ones, but truly, God has chosen the foolish things of this world. And Judges highlights that.
I'm going to take you back into chapter 2 because the role of the judge, as highlighted in this book, is brought to the forefront. Chapter 2 verse 16, "Then the Lord raised up judges." Shaphatim is the Hebrew. Shaphat is the singular. Shaphatim, the plural.
"The Lord raised up shaphatim, judges, who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Yet they"-- the children of Israel-- "they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked in obeying the commandments of the Lord. They did not do so.
And when the Lord raised up judges for them the Lord was with the judge and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who oppressed them and harassed them. And it came to pass, when the judge was dead, that they reverted and behaved more corruptly than their fathers by following other gods to serve them and bow down to them."
You remember last week, we talked about this cycle called the sin cycle. And there are distinct phases of this sin cycle. And this cycle takes place seven times in the Book of Judges. So first of all, there is rebellion. Children of Israel are tired of living under the rule of God, the authority of God, the laws of God.
They want to do their own thing. They want to spread their wings. It's all about what I want when I want it. There was no king in Israel. Every man did what is right in his own eyes, this book tells us. So rebellion.
The second phase after rebellion is retribution. God let them have what they wanted. You want to worship other gods? I'll let you be under the control of the people of the land that worship those gods. I'll rub your noses in what you want, if you want it that bad.
The third phase is repentance. It's where the people go, OK, Lord, I'm so sorry. I really blew it. I don't know what I was thinking. Please, please, please deliver us. That's the third phase, followed by the fourth phase, restoration. God delivers them, brings them back.
They're once again in fellowship with God. They walk with God for a while. And then it's a rerun, man, like those old commercials. They just keep coming around and around and around. So God delivers them to a series of these judges.
Now again, just to underscore from last week, there is no central leadership in Israel at this time. Moses is gone. Joshua is gone. David is coming after Saul. There will be a kingship coming, a monarchy. But in between the rule of Joshua and the monarchy is a period of about 350 to 450 years, depending on when you start and when you end. It's a long period of time, a few centuries.
And because there is no central leadership, these people get into trouble with different tribes, different peoples of the land, Canaanites they were to drive out. They didn't drive them completely out. They settled among them and with them, as will be highlighted in chapter 3. And so they get into trouble, and that's where the judge comes in.
Now once again, you need to know this, that the judges were not the best of men. In fact, it's almost like God scraped the bottom of the barrel in some cases. Some of them had no morals whatsoever. Some of them were filthy in their lifestyle. Some of them were womanizers. And yeah, God chose them and put them in a position of leadership.
Remember that in the Book of Daniel, Daniel says that God rules over the kingdom of men and places over it the basest of men, the lowest of men. God is in control of the leadership. You and I have voting rights in this country, but God is in control.
That's why the Bible tells us, since God is in control, you and I are to pray for leaders in our land, no matter who they are. For Paul the apostle, it was Caesar Nero. Talk about the basest of men.
So keep in mind, these judges were often scoundrels, but God raised them up and the Lord was with the judge. And you repeatedly read over and over again the Spirit of the Lord came upon that judge. And you wonder, well, wait a minute. This guy wasn't a perfect person. His character wasn't above board. OK. He's not called to be a pastor. He's called to be a judge of Israel.
And God has chosen the foolish things of this world. But the Bible says the eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the entire earth, that he might show himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are loyal toward Him. God is looking for people to use. Why don't you let him use you?
And the next time you complain about political rulers, why don't you run for office? Let the Lord use you there. We'll vote for you if you have good policies. If not, we won't.
Takes us to chapter 3, verse 1. "Now these are the nations which the Lord left that he might test Israel by them, that is, all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan. This was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formally known it."
Now keep in mind, when they settled the land under Joshua, they'd been wandering through the wilderness. They were nomadic. They were Bedouin type peoples, going from place to place. They kept animals. They looked after their families. They were not trained in the art of war.
So the Lord left because they wouldn't drive them out. It was the Lord's will for them to drive them all out. Because they wouldn't do it, the Lord said, OK, you know what? I'm not going to help you much in that. They're going to be settling among you. And I'm going to leave enough of them so that you'll trust me, number 1, and number 2, so that you'll wish that you had obeyed me.
So He's going to test them. Now, we sung two songs tonight about battle, I noticed. If you're wondering, why does the Lord still let me go through battles? Why can't he just deliver me from the hand of the enemies? Lord wants to test you.
And here we are singing about the battles I face. The Lord's in it so I'm going to trust him in it. OK, great. We sang it, now let's do it.
"Namely," verse 3-- by the way, your faith needs to be tested or it's of no value. A faith that can't be tested is a faith that can't be trusted. If you want to know if your faith is of any value at all, it has to face hard times. It has to be tested. And then you can look at it. You can objectively examine, wow, I didn't do too good on that test, but it will strengthen me for the next one coming, you see.
"Namely," verse 3-- I started there and then I had a thought. "Five lords of the Philistines, all the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who dwelt in Mount Lebanon from Mount Baal Hermon"-- that's way up north-- "to the entrance of Hamath." That's also way up north in the land.
Now, you will notice in verse 3, it mentions five lords of the Philistines. The Philistines were a seafaring people. They started in the islands in the Mediterranean. They migrated to the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon. And then they eventually moved south, wanted to take over Egypt. They were unsuccessful, so they settled later on in five cities. There is five lords of the Philistines. There will be five city confederation, a pentapolis, five cities.
And I'm bringing that to your remembrance now so that later on when you read about these five cities, you'll know that they finally migrated and settled in the southern middle part of Israel. They took over these cities, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, Gaza, and Ekron-- those five cities. And they will become the formidable enemy of David during that period of time. David is always fighting against the Philistines. Goliath was a Philistine.
But here we're introduced to the five lords of the Philistines, not by name, but by principle. "And they were left"-- verse 4-- "that He might test Israel by them to know whether they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which he had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.
So the children of Israel dwelt among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, the Jebusites," and probably a few termites were there as well. "And they took their daughters to be their wives and gave their daughters to their sons and they served their gods."
So God tested them. They failed the test that God gave them. And what the author of the Book of Judges does-- and I believe that author to be Samuel, the prophet Samuel. That's what Jewish tradition says. There's no other contender so I believe it was him.
He let us know that at the time, during this test-- and here is the first cycle downward. This is the first sin cycle and the need for the first judge to step in-- that there was a three-tiered accommodation of the people of Israel toward the Canaanites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, et cetera.
Number 1, they dwelt among them. That's not a problem. I mean, they're around. We all live around worldly people all the time. That shouldn't be a problem. But it led to a second thing that happened. They not only dwelt among them, they intermarried with them.
That is a problem, as I'll show you in a minute. And then the third phase, after living among them, intermarrying with them, is they became like them in their worship. For it says in verse 6, "they served their gods."
Now, think of you and I. You and I live in a world. We are surrounded by worldly people. We are surrounded by unbelievers. We work with them. We have neighbors that are unbelievers. We have family members that don't believe in Jesus Christ.
But it should be that we are able, by the grace of God, by the power of the Spirit of God, to dwell among them and not compromise. That's what Jesus prayed for. Father, I pray that you don't take them out of the world, but I pray that you keep them from the evil one, John chapter 17.
Jesus said, look, or behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Well, that's not a very good shepherd. Why would he send his little sheepies out in the midst of wolves? We're going to get eaten by the wolves. You don't have to get eaten by the wolves. The idea is that those wolves could become sheep by your influence. That's the idea.
For Jesus also said, you are the salt of the earth. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. So we can have an influence in a world in which we live. The problem is when we dwell among them and we think we have to be like them to get them to like us.
That becomes our objective. Well, I want people to like me. And sometimes we will compromise our values just so other people have a favorable opinion toward us.
Now, it gets worse because they settled among them. Then they started marrying sons and daughters and giving sons and daughters in marriage to others, which was a direct disobedience against what the Lord had commanded, Deuteronomy chapter 7. I'll read a section to you.
"When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you go to possess and has cast out many nations before you-- the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, the Jebusites"-- termites are not mentioned-- "seven nations greater and mightier than you.
When the Lord your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them.
You shall not give your daughters to their son or take their daughters for your son, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods. So the anger of the Lord will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly."
This is what is behind the notion we often share when we talk about what Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "do not be unequally yoked together with an unbeliever." Because to win that love of that sweet, young girl that you are so fond of but she is an unbeliever-- but she's so cute.
I think this could work, even though I love Jesus and she doesn't love Jesus. I can get tempted to compromise my worship of Jesus because I want to win her over. So this was a problem back in the Old Testament.
Now, what you need to know about the Canaanites that were dwelling in the land, the reason God says get rid of them-- because we throw a hissy fit whenever we read texts like that. God is so cruel. We don't really understand the practices of the Canaanites.
Most all of the Canaanite tribes sacrificed their babies. Child sacrifice, burned their little babies in sacrifice to the false gods of the land. Morally depraved. And eventually became a thorn in the sides of God's people.
So God was using Israel as his instrument of judgment against them, but the instrument of judgment against them became like them. So the salt lost its flavor. The salt lost its impact. The light had grown dim. You couldn't tell the difference between a child of God and a child of the devil. They didn't stand out.
So verse 7 of chapter 3 of Judges. "So the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals"-- right pronunciation is Ba'al-- "and Asherahs." I told you last week I would explain that.
Baal, or Ba'al means lord. It's a generic term for god. It was actually one of the gods in the pantheon of the Canaanites. And Asherah was the female correspondent, or cohort.
Now, here's how the original worship system of that day and age worked, the Canaanite worship. It's weird. I told you it's rated R, this book. The whole worship system is rated R of the Canaanites. So the chief god of the Canaanites was a god by the name of El, E-L.
And El was creator god. Creator god, the one who made the earth, had relations with Asherah, Who was the goddess of war and fertility, an interesting mix. And they had several little gods, several offspring. Baal, Ba'al, was one of them.
Ba'al was the god of the storm, celebrated by the worship of the sun. He controlled the clouds. He controlled rain. He controlled sunshine. He controlled the crops. But get this. Though El and Asherah-- also called Ashtart, also known as Ishtar by some different ancient groups-- though there was El and Asherah, who had Ba'al, it is believed that Ba'al and Asherah also had a sexual union.
So in the world of the gods, it was an incestuous relationship. And it was the relationship, or their union between Ba'al and Asherah, that caused crops to be fertile, caused your animals to grow and proliferate. So if you wanted a good harvest, you'd have to worship Ba'al and Asherah.
And the way you did that, if you were a Canaanite, is enter in to the union that made your crops fertile, what Ba'al and Asherah did. You'd have sexual relations. So there were priestesses and priests who had conjoined themselves to people, and during the acts of sexuality, they would make a prayer, "even as fertility is taking place right now, make my animals grow, my herds grow, my flocks grow. Make my crops grow," et cetera. It was just part of the worship system.
And it was because it was so sensual of a worship system, that's why it was so attractive to the children of Israel. They never worshipped like that. They never went to church like that. What's this new church opening up where we can do that? That's the thing that attracted them. So Ba'al and Asherah.
Therefore, the anger was of the Lord was hot against Israel and He sold them into the hand of Cushan-Rishathaim, the king of Mesopotamia. And the children of Israel served Cushan-Rishathaim eight years. The children of Israel cried out to the Lord. The Lord raised up a deliverer for the children of Israel, who delivered them, Othniel, the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother.
Remember him from last week. Remember, Caleb said, look. We have a town here. Somebody needs to take this town. Whoever takes this town, Kirjath Sepher-- remember, that meant the place of the books. It was Book Town. Whoever takes Book Town, and successfully, can have my daughter as wife.
So Othniel said, I'll do it. So he took the town militarily and he married Caleb's daughter. So he becomes the first judge, Othniel, the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. Now look at verse 10. "The Spirit of the Lord came upon him."
Now, Othniel is the first judge, and he's one of the better judges. There's no criticism leveled against this man. And every time it mentions him, it mentions Caleb. Here's Othniel. He happened to be related to Caleb. Why is that significant?
Obviously, Caleb influenced Othniel in a good way. I mean, in my opinion, Caleb is one of the super heroes of the Old Testament, superstars. Godly, man of faith, stood with God's promises with Moses, with Joshua. Believed he could take whatever God said he could take. Just a man of incredible faith. And he happened to be his uncle, Othniel's uncle.
Never underestimate the influence of a godly relative. If you have a niece or a nephew and you're an uncle or an aunt, figure out a way you can influence those people for the Lord. And I believe that the success of the first judge of Israel was directly a result of Caleb.
The statistics bear this out. I read an interesting statistic about mothers and fathers raising children. Mothers and fathers who both attend church, make it a commitment to attend church regularly, that their children have a 72% chance of remaining faithful to their beliefs.
If just the father is faithful in going to church, but not the mother, the child still has a 55% chance of remaining faithful, according to these stats. But if the mother alone, not the father, is committed to going to church, the child's chances of being faithful drops to 25%. That's where uncle Caleb steps in, perhaps, or an uncle or an aunt who can serve the Lord and can influence.
But verse 10. "The Spirit of the Lord came upon him and he went and judge Israel. He went out to war. The Lord delivered Cushan-Rishathaim, the king of Mesopotamia, into his hand and his hand prevailed over Cushan-Rishathaim." They have to keep writing that name. "So the land head rest for 40 years. Then Othniel, the son of Kenaz, died."
In the Book of Judges, you're going to read this phrase seven times, over and over and over, "the Spirit of the Lord came upon him." When you read that, understand what is happening. God's Holy Spirit identifies an individual, is with that person in a unique way to perform a task-- the task of deliverance, the task of winning the battle. Sometimes in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit comes upon a king, the task of ruling a nation.
It's as if the Holy Spirit comes upon, for a period of time, to control that person and the events that person is involved in. Fast forward to the New Testament. We have a different relationship with the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, the Holy Spirit will be with you. He will be in you, and He will come upon you. He is with you before salvation, telling you there is no hope for you unless you come to Jesus.
The day or the hour, the moment you say, yes, Lord, now the Holy Spirit comes inside of you to dwell within you. Not to go in and out, up and down. Always with you, as an abiding possession, a down payment, Paul describes it as.
But also, the Holy Spirit comes upon us for acts of service. Now, in the Book of Acts-- well, I'll go back a little bit. At the end of the Gospel stories, Jesus tells his disciples, go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He gives them the Commission, the Great Commission. Go. Go.
But then Acts chapter 1, he says, don't go yet. Wait in Jerusalem until you be filled with power from on high. And in Acts chapter 2 verse 8, he says the Holy Spirit will come upon you. You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria to the uttermost parts of the earth. So I've got a mission for, you a Commission for you. Go, but don't go until you have the right equipment, you have the power.
You see, the task I'm calling you to is so monumental you can't do it on your own. You need help. You need my help. You need spiritual help. You need the power of the Holy Spirit.
If you join the military, they're going to give you the equipment. They'll give you the training. They'll give you a gun. They'll give you a tank. If you're a pilot, they won't say, you know what? You're going to have to save up and buy your own jet. It's several million dollars, but if you start now, we'll let you pay it off. No, they will provide all the necessary equipment for you to do the job.
When you come into God's army, when you become a child of God, He gives you all the equipment you need to live the life He's called you to live, to take the battlefield, to take the victory. The Holy Spirit of God will come upon you so that you can be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost parts of the earth.
I hope that before you live each day, that before you go into the boardroom or the courtroom or the police station, or wherever you do your business or live your life, that you just say, Lord, before I go, would you fill me with your Holy Spirit? Would you empower me to be your witness in this situation on this day for these people. Try that prayer, specifically, and see what happens.
I remember the first time I started doing that in availing myself, opening my day up, my events, my calendar up to the Lord. What the Lord did and how He showed up. There's a great story about a valiant captain whose sword was legendary that his enemies feared his sword.
The king heard about it and said, that's kind of weird that the enemies would fear a sword. I demand, I must see that sword. Let me look it over. So he looked over the sword. He goes, I don't see anything special about this sword.
The captain heard about that and he sent a note to the king, and he said, you only examined the sword. Had you examined the hand that wields that sword, you would understand its mystery.
You see, that's how it is. You see the Lord work in a marvelous way, and if you know the person that the Lord used, you go, I don't get it. I know that guy. He's goofy. He's weird. It's Othniel.
What's up with Othniel? Othniel, what up? You're not that great. OK, you're related to Caleb, big deal, but you're not all that great. Ah, but you're not looking at the hand that wields the sword. It's the Spirit of God.
You look at Peter, Peter, this bumbling fisherman. But the Lord came upon him. The Lord used him. The Holy Spirit came upon him. I'm moving slow, sorry. That's the luxury of just not telling you where we're going to end up.
The second cycle begins in verse 12. "And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord." Here's round two, second cycle. "So"-- notice this-- "the Lord strengthened Eglon, the king of Moab, against Israel because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord."
There's a couple of ways you could look at this. You could look at this from the viewpoint of secular history or-- or I should say and-- you could look at it from the viewpoint of biblical theology. If you purely look at it through the lens of secular history, children of Israel were a tribal group, a strong confederacy, headed up by a man named Eglon, the king of Moab. Moab was an established country at that time. They had more manpower, more gunpowder, more chariot power, we would say, so they won. That's just from secular history.
Once you view this, however, from biblical theology, as the author does, he says, really, behind the scenes, the Lord was strengthening this bad king's hand. Because the children of Israel did evil, the Lord strengthened the hand of Israel's enemies.
Now, that is always how history works. There are the facts of history, and you can just look at the facts, but you always should think, what's behind the facts? See, there's the factual, then there's the actual.
And the factual is the who, when, where, how of the story. But the actual is the why. And the why here is they disobeyed God and so God gave the enemies the upper hand. God was in charge.
This is God's sovereignty. This is God's providence at work. John Nelson Darby put it better than I could ever put it. He said, God's ways are behind the scenes, but he moves the scenes that He is behind.
You don't see him readily. You don't hear Him readily, oh, but He's there and He is in control. He's moving things around. And Eglon here is a pawn on God's chessboard.
"So the Lord strengthened Eglon." Now, Eglon's a very interesting person because he's the only man in the Bible, only ruler in the Bible, that the Bible calls a very fat man. For those of you who like that kind of trivia, there you go.
Verse 13. "He gathered himself, the people of Ammon and Amalek"-- remember the Amalekites from way back-- "went and defeated Israel and took possession of the City of Palms." That's Jericho, Palm Springs of the ancient world.
"So the children of Israel served Eglon, king of Moab, for 18 years. And when the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud." Now, some of you should be familiar with the name Ehud. There was a prime minister of Israel named Ehud Barak. Another one called Ehud Olmert. It's a very common Jewish name, all taking their cues from this first guy, Ehud.
"So the Lord raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamin, a left-handed man. By him the children of Israel sent tribute to Eglon, the king of Moab." Usually, when a king subjugated a people, they had to pay tribute to that king yearly.
And there was an emissary always chosen who would come with the tribute money, the tax money, and go make the run to that king and deliver the tribute, in a humble fashion, to that king. Ehud was the guy who did it.
Now, the only great thing about Ehud, it seems so far that we pick up from the story, is he was a southpaw. He was left-handed. It's just an interesting thing. And he was a left-handed man. And you go, so what? Because only 10% of the population are left-handed, so what's the big deal? It will become an advantage for deliverance.
This is sort of an interesting thing. By the time you get to chapter 20 of the Book of Judges, oddly enough, the Benjamites have 700 left-handed men who can throw a stone from a sling within a hair's breath, we're told. So it's just like all the southpaws got together and became really, really good at this thing, and they happen to be Benjamites.
Well, this is a Benjamite, who's also a lefty, a southpaw, so it must have run in the tribe. But notice, verse 16, "Ehud made himself a dagger. It was double-edged." Now, what is that? Whenever you read about a two-edged sword, what do you immediately, New Testament people, think of? The Word of God. The Bible is a double-edged sword. We'll get to that.
So he has a double-edged sword, a cubit in length-- 18 inches, probably the blade length-- "and fastened it under his clothes in his right thigh." Ah, now we're getting somewhere. In those days, since most people were right-handed and you draw the sword across your body, you would place the scabbard of the sword, the sheath of the sword, on the left thigh.
And you, since most people were right-handed, would grab it, with the right hand draw it across and draw it out. You wouldn't grab it up. It's just an awkward position. So you put it on the opposite leg, hidden under the clothes.
So when you go in to see a king, they had their version of the Secret Service. They'd always pat you down. But because usually there was a lot of traffic going in and out, they wouldn't frisk all of you. They would simply frisk the left side, because that's where people kept their weapons, unless you were left-handed. Most people were right-handed.
That's where trouble came. It came on the left thigh because the right hand could reach across. But this guy was left-handed so he'd strap his dagger to the right side. That's important for this because he gets in to see the king.
"So he brought the tribute to Eglon, the king of Moab." Now notice the parentheses. "Now Eglon was a very fat man." Now I mean, this guy really was-- think Jabba the Hutt, you Star Wars fans. You'll read about it.
You think I'm exaggerating. Wait till you see how fat this guy is. It's surprising what you read in the Bible. The dude was a fat dude, Jabba the Hutt. So Eglon comes in with the tribute and there's the king.
[JABBA THE HUTT SOUNDS]
"And when he had finished presenting the tribute, he sent away the people who had carried the tribute. And he himself turned back from the stone images that were at Gilgal and said, I have a secret message for you, oh, king. He said, keep silence, and all who attended him went out from him."
Now just, really quickly, the stone images, some kind of a landmark at Gilgal. Some think they were graven images, carved images, idols that were there for the worship system of the Canaanites, perhaps. It also could be a reference to the stones at Gilgal that the children of Israel had brought out of the Jordan River when God opened it up for them. It could be those stones that had been used now by the Canaanites to carve idols out of.
"And Ehud," verse 20, "came to him." Now he was sitting upstairs in his cool, private chamber. So Gilgal is down by the City of Palms, Jericho. I told you last week how hot it was last week, 115 degrees.
It's below sea level. It's very hot, so they would have upper patios with kind of a lattice covering around it to let the breezes carry coolness to them. So he's sitting in upstairs in his private chamber.
"And Ehud said, I have a message from God for you. So he arose from his seat." I don't know how he arose. He kind of rolled out of his seat. [JABBA THE HUTT SOUNDS]
"And Ehud reached with his left hand, took the dagger from right thigh, and thrust it into his belly. Even the hilt, that is, the handle, went in after the blade." When the Bible says he's very fat, he's very fat.
"And the fat closed over the blade." Come on, this is a cool story. At least for guys it is. "For he did not draw the dagger out of his belly and his entrails came out." It's just getting better.
"Then Ehud went through the porch and shut the doors of the upper room behind him and locked them. When he had gone, Eglon's servants came to look. To their surprise, the doors that the upper room were locked. So they said, he's probably attending to his needs in the cool chamber."
In other words, you know-- I don't have to describe that, right? He's sitting on the throne, but not the kingly throne. "So they waited until they were embarrassed." Gosh, he's been on that throne a long time. He's got to be done by now.
"And still he had not opened the doors." I'm just reading it out of the Scriptures and it's funny what you find. "Had not opened the doors of the upper room. Therefore, they took the key and opened them, and there was their master, fallen dead on the floor. But Ehud escaped while they delayed, and passed beyond the stone images and escaped to Seirah.
And it happened when he arrived that he blew the trumpet in the mountains of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mountains and he led them. And he said to them, follow me, for the Lord has delivered your enemies, the Moabites, into your hands. So they went down after him, seized the fords of the Jordan." Notice, no Chevys here, just Fords. Just the F-150s and the Mustangs.
"Leading to Moab and did not allow anyone to cross over. And at that time, they killed about 10,000 men of Moab, all stout men of valor. Not a man escaped. So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest for 80 years."
Now this is significant. It's the longest time of peace recorded in the Book of Judges between all these sin cycles. So for 80 years, they had peace. For 80 years, they were, at least to some degree, right with God. But 80 years was up.
We have verse 31. "After him was Shamgar." Now this is the third judge, or the third deliverer. "After him was Shamgar, the son of Anath, who killed 600 men of the Philistines with an ox goad, and he delivered Israel." That's all that's said of Shamgar, one single, solitary verse.
Not an explanation about fat rolling off onto a blade and closing up and entrails. None of that. None of the gory details here. Just one little verse about a guy named Shamgar. We know nothing about him. The only other mention of Shamgar is in the song of Deborah in chapter 5. That's it.
Now he, Shamgar, killed 600 men of the Philistines with an ox goad. An ox goad is a very rudimentary implement for farming. I take it he was a farmer and he had oxen pulling a plow. And when you're a farmer and you have oxen pulling a plow, you have a long eight foot stick that's about two inches in diameter with a metal tip, very sharp metal tip.
And the sharp tip is there to give the oxen a little incentive if they are reluctant to move forward. They just say, you know what? I'm done walking. I don't want to pull this plow. I'm done for the day. Not so fast. Boom. Now suddenly, they're motivated and they move a little bit further forward. That's an ox goad.
At the other end of that stick, it was flat and broad and it was used to clean out weeds and stuff out of the prongs of the plow. So he's a simple guy. He's nothing but a farmer with an ox goad. But God uses him. God uses him in his occupation.
He doesn't say, you know, I'm going to have to leave farming and leave my ox goad. I'm going to have to go join the school of the prophets and be a mighty man of God. No. Lord, use me. And God used him in his occupation for his work. You have an occupation.
You can say, Lord, these hands, these feet, this mouth, they're yours today. Wherever I end up, whatever situation I encounter, whatever people I talk to, use me. And the Lord can use you to deliver people from their sin by you presenting the right message.
An ox goad, low-tech, crude. Compared to chariots, very crude. But a lot of times we think we have to have the right methods if we want to reach people. Actually, more than the right methods, you need the right message. If you have great methods but not a good message, you have a mess.
If you have a great message, a true message, but not that high-tech or great methods, it can still be marvelous. Now, if you have the right message and great methods, it can be magnificent. But it isn't necessary. What's necessary is you just say, I present my body as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to you, which is my reasonable service, Romans chapter 12.
And the Lord will use whatever you have, whatever little thing you have. You give it to Him and watch Him multiply. There was a little boy one day who had a few loaves of bread and a few fish, and Jesus said bring them to me. You know the story. He multiplied them.
He probably left home going, what a meager lunch I have. Fish again. Fish sandwiches. Just like yesterday. Not much here. Maybe I should just leave it. No, I'll take it anyway.
Jesus said, bring them here. Jesus says to you, what do you got? I don't have much. I'm just left-handed. I don't have many resources. Bring them here. Let me lay my hands on them. Watch what I can do through you. Give me that ox goad. Let me anoint you holding that ox goad.
So he killed 600 men of the Philistines with an ox goad. Now, we're not told if he did that at one time, over a period of time, or this is throughout a lifetime. But the count was 600. Pretty good with an ox goad.
Now I'm looking at the time. In my head, I said I'm going to make it through chapter 5, just so you know how warped my head can be. So I just finished chapter 3. I have time just to introduce you to the woman of the hour.
The fourth judge, who, like the fourth prime minister of modern Israel, is a woman named Deborah. The fourth prime minister of Israel, of modern Israel, is Golda Meir, called the Iron Lady of modern Israel. Tough cookie. Brilliant leader.
And that hearkens back to Deborah. "When Ehud was dead, the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, so the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin, the king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor.
The commander of his army was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth Hagoyim, which means Harosheth of the Gentiles. Haroseth is a little village at the foot of mount Carmel, up in the north by the brook Kishan, and it was in Gentile-controlled territory.
So that king ruled over there. The children of Israel cried out to the Lord, for Jabin and had 900 chariots of iron. Now compare that to the ox goad. A chariot was like a tank, a military tank. They have iron chariots. Israel did not have that technology.
"For 20 years, he harshly oppressed the children of Israel. Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah, between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment."
There is the mention in verse 1 of a city called Hazor. In the Old Testament, Hazor becomes one of the most important cities for the entire period of the Old Testament. It was one of the largest, strongest-- it was located 8 and 1/2 miles north of the Sea of Galilee.
And I remember, for years on our tour bus, our tour guide would go through the valley. You're going from Galilee up to the Hula Valley up north. And he'd point up on the hill and say, you see those archeological digs up there? That's Hazor. But it was never part of our tour.
David was our tour guide. I said, David, I've always wanted to see Hazor. Oh, we'll do it again. We'll do it next time. Next time you come we'll see it. Well, it happened, and next time came and went and next time came and went.
Finally, I had a different tour guide. And I'd say to Steve, I go, Steve, I always wanted to see Hazor. He goes, next time you'll see Hazor. So our last trip to Israel-- I didn't go on this last one, but the one before that I told the tour guide, we're stopping at Hazor.
And truly, Hazor is one of the great archeological sites in the land. It's one of the largest cities, one of the largest digs. It was a massive city. And if you go there today, you can still see the burn marks on the stone of when the city was set on fire, as written about in the Scripture, where it says the city was taken and burned with fire.
The burn marks from that era in the Old Testament are still visible in today's Hazor. So something to look forward to. Next time you go to Israel, you can see it. I will explain more about Deborah and Barak and the battle next time, as we cover chapter 4 and 5 when we gather together.
Father, thank you for the ability to look at this chapter of Scripture. And Father, I pray that some of these things we gleaned tonight we would learn as life lessons, that you use foolish people. You choose foolish things.
But you are always looking for people to use to do your will and your work. We don't always know what that is, but you raise up people. You put them down. You put people in political office. You pull them down.
And then, Lord, you use us, whether we have high-tech methods or low-tech methods, whether we have much or we have little. But we can never disparage what we have, what you have allowed from your hand for us to hold, because they can become powerful and effective and influential in the anointed hands of a man or woman of God, as the Holy Spirit of God is within and upon them.
Lord, I pray you would do your work in us and through us. I pray that this week we would experience the power of the Holy Spirit in our words, in our works, as we interface with the Canaanites around us, unbelievers around us.
Help us to love them well. And give us your words and your power to reach them for the sake of Christ. We ask in His name, amen. Let's all stand. Let's worship again.
For more resources from Calvary Church and Skip Heitzig, visit calvarynm.church. Thank you for joining us during this teaching in our Expound series.