Monday, April 1, 2019

Heaven’s Hero #3: Ehud - Unlikely Hero

Heaven’s Hero #3: Ehud - Unlikely Hero

Text: Judges 3:12-30

Introduction: Theme this month is heroes. how do we picture heroes?
Joke: My four-year-old son Ashton loves the movie Toy Story 2, particularly the space ranger hero Buzz Lightyear.  Recently in Sunday school we were learning that God's love has no limits. At the end of class, the teacher, reviewing the lesson, asked, "So, how much does God love us?" Quoting Buzz's big line in the film, Ashton replied, "To infinity and beyond!"

Continuing with our series on Heroes of Heaven this in the story of Ehud, a very unlikely hero. Joshua and Caleb our first and second heroes, make great heroes. They are leaders, they are warriors they walked for 40 years in the wilderness with Moses, they saw and heard God on Mt. Sinia, they were the spies sent into the Promised land. These men had ability, talent and skill. What is Ehud’s skill? Well he is left handed and he’s very sneaky. Being married to a left handed woman I know by personal experience that this is true.  

Now I could have chosen Othniel as our hero, he certainly was a hero but I decided to go with the story of Ehud. One of the reason is because of the bad guys in both stories. Would you rather try to pronounce Ehud’s, villain Eglon or Othniel’s villain in Judges 3:8, Chu shan rish a thaim. I don’t care how many times you listen to Alexander Scourby on the Audio Bible say that name a couple of times and you’re going to mess it up.  So lets go to Judges 3, skip the first 11 verses and start at verse 12 and we are going to look for three men in this story, staring with the Fat Man, then the Hit Man and finally the Music Man.

The Fat Man - Judges 3:12-17

 And the children of Israel did evil again in the sight of the LORD: and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.  And he gathered unto him the children of Ammon and Amalek, and went and smote Israel, and possessed the city of palm trees.

Israel’s sin brings God’s Punishment

This pattern is repeated throughout the book of Judges and throughout the history of Israel. In spite of God’s warnings that it would happen, in spite of history that it had happened and in spite of living under such punishment themselves. It seems that Israel never could learn. Monuments were built by Joshua as the nation of Israel crossed the Jordon to serve as a reminder of what God had done. The people were divided by tribes and placed upon Mt Gerizim and Mt. Ebal to create an event that would hold in their collective consciousness as a people, but nothing could stop them from the terrible sin of idolatry which broke the bond between themselves and their God.

Deuteronomy 27:4-8 Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaister them with plaister. And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them.  Thou shalt build the altar of the LORD thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD thy God:  And thou shalt offer peace offerings, and shalt eat there, and rejoice before the LORD thy God.  And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.

Deuteronomy 27:11-13  And Moses charged the people the same day, saying,  These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin:  And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.

Joshua 4:20-24  And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal.  And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones?  Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land.  For the LORD your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over:  That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.

 Israel’s sin of turning from God brings God’s punishment. God’s punishment brings them to repentance. Repentance brings God’s deliverance and a hero /  judge is raised up to save the people from their oppressor. In this case that oppressor is Elgon, the fat man and Ehud the Hero.

Is There a Fat Man In Your Future?

It is so easy to throw stones at the Israelites isn’t it? We look back with the tremendous advantage of God’s greater revelation and the history of His inspired Word and say, how could they be so stupid? But we forget that often this change took 3 or 4 generations to happen and that they did not even have a copy of the scripture they could pass on to their children. When you consider our own nation, even our own families, our own lives aren’t we prone to be just as faithless. In other word aren’t we just as likely to face a fat man in our own future. (Now don’t give me a hard time using a phrase like fat man. We aren’t politically correct around here and beside if anyone can ask about a fat man it should be me, cause I are one.)

As God used Eglon to punish Israel’s sin, we should not be surprise when God will also use outward circumstances, sickness, financial problems to punish our sin and rebellion when inward conviction fails to bring us back to Him.

Hebrews 10:29-31 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Hebrews 12:5-6  And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

That punishment, that reminder of God’s love and justice, will be done in way that He knows will personally and effectively get the message to us, I am is not letting you go this way!
For God’s people OT and NT, the covenant of the law or the covenant of grace if we are caught up in unrepentant sin, The Fat Man Cometh.

Illustration - Judgment Day" Sooner Than Thought

A Scottish lawyer was a wicked man. Once he hired a horse and, either through accident or ill-usage, killed the animal. Naturally the owner insisted on being paid its value, together with some compensation for the loss of its use. The man of law acknowledged his liability, and said he was perfectly willing to pay, but at the moment he was a little straightened for ready cash. Would the hirer of the animal accept a promissory note? "Certainly," he said.

Whereupon the lawyer further said that he must be allowed a long date. "You can fix your own time," said the creditor. The wicked man then drew the note, making it payable at the Day of Judgment. Eventually the creditor took the matter to court, and there, in defense, the lawyer asked the judge to look at the note. He did so, and then replied: "The promissory note is perfectly good sir and as this is day of judgment, I decree that you pay tomorrow." - Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.

I’m afraid that for many of us, there are times we don’t realize that God has more than one judgment day when it comes to sin and his people.

Transition - Now we are going to look at a second man that God uses and that man is our hero Ehud and he will play the unlikely role of God’s Hit man.

The Hit Man Judges 3:18-25

 And when he had made an end to offer the present, he sent away the people that bare the present.  But he himself turned again from the quarries that were by Gilgal, and said, I have a secret errand unto thee, O king: who said, Keep silence. And all that stood by him went out from him.  And Ehud came unto him; and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat.  And Ehud put forth his left hand, and took the dagger from his right thigh, and thrust it into his belly:  And the haft also went in after the blade; and the fat closed upon the blade, so that he could not draw the dagger out of his belly; and the dirt came out.  Then Ehud went forth through the porch, and shut the doors of the parlour upon him, and locked them.  When he was gone out, his servants came; and when they saw that, behold, the doors of the parlour were locked, they said, Surely he covereth his feet in his summer chamber.  And they tarried till they were ashamed: and, behold, he opened not the doors of the parlour; therefore they took a key, and opened them: and, behold, their lord was fallen down dead on the earth.

Israel’s prayer brings God’s Hero

Now let me give you another maxim, another universal law of God’s creation. As sure as God will punish sin so also will He forgive sin. He is a God of justice and he is fully a God of love as well.

In the case of Eglon, God raises up an unlikely but unique judge, Ehud. Ehud was not a military leader. He had served with Moses and was too young probably to even know anyone who had.  Nor was he from an important tribe like Judah or Levi. Ehud was of the lowly tribe of Benjamin.  Ehud was also left-handed, perhaps even ambidextrous, something that seemed to run in many of the tribe of Benjamin. This also marking him as different. Finally, Ehud was one of the men who paid tribute to Eglon, meaning he had to be humble and obeisant. None of these things would qualify him to be a great leader or Judge of Israel.

But what Ehud lacks in training and experience, he makes up for in boldness and cunning to get the job done. The real reason Ehud becomes a Judge of Israel is because he simply decided to get the job done. He determined to do what was right in God’s service.

In the summer parlor, a cool place in the palace, usually upon the wall or in the garden. He tells the king he has a secret for him and Eglon perhaps thinking he has gained a spy or that Eglon was a prophet, sends the others out. Ehud gets close and as he leans in to tell the secret to Eglon, takes the dagger that was hidden on the inside of his right thigh and plunges it into Eglon.

This is done with such force into the fat man that it sinks into his fat over the handle and closes so tightly that the dagger can’t be removed. The dirt coming out probably refers to the dagger plunging into his intestines or Eglon in the shock of the kill messing himself. Ehud then locks the door from the inside and goes out probably be the outside stairs and makes his escape.
Not exactly Joshua marching around Jericho or Caleb kicking the giants off Mt. Hebron, but Ehud was God’s hit man and because he was willing, God used him to deliver Israel.

God’s Hero Is Not always the “Hero” type

Moses was a shy stutterer.      Ehud was our left-handed assassin. Samson was a woman chaser who liked to drink and get in fights. Matthew was a hated tax collector and the first Apostles were a bunch of fisherman who didn’t even live in Jerusalem and had never led a synagogue much less a new religion that would change the world.

We could of course go on but the point is God doesn’t need our heroism, out talents, our training or our wealth. God needs our willingness to serve. God needs our dedication to obey. God needs our commitment to hold fast. When He has a people who have those characteristics then He will can make heroes wherever and whenever He needs.

Scripture: 1 Corinthinas 1:26-29  For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:  That no flesh should glory in his presence.

Illustration: Pastoral Search Committee Report
Subject: Hiring New Pastor

We do not have a happy report to give. We've not been able to find a suitable candidate for this church, though we have one promising prospect still. We do appreciate all the suggestions from the church members, and we've followed up each one with interviews or calling at least three references.

The following is our confidential report on the present candidates.

Adam: Good man but problems with his wife. Also he and his wife were once practicing nudists and often walked naked in the woods.
Noah: Preached for 120 years with no converts. Also loves expensive and large building projects.
Abraham: Has a tendency to lie under pressure and use his wife as a distraction from his own problems.
Joseph: A big thinker, but brags a bit, also believes in dream-interpreting and has been in prison.
Moses: A modest and meek man, but very poor communicator, stutters at times. Has a bad temper. Once in Egypt, he fled in order to avoid a manslaughter charge.
David: The most promising leader of all but lots of rumors about a woman named Bathsheba and his kids are a mess.
Solomon: Great preacher, great facility builder, but we could never afford his previous salary.
Elijah: Doesn’t get along other religious leaders. Prone to depression, and sometimes collapses under pressure.
Elisha: Reported to have lived with a single widow while traveling.
Hosea: A tender and loving pastor but his wife has a very shady past and a weird name.
Jeremiah: Emotionally unstable, alarmist, negative, always lamenting things, and reported to have taken a long trip to bury his underwear on the bank of a foreign river.
Isaiah: Claims to see visions of heaven, angels and God in church.
Jonah: He told us about himself, said He did not want to be a foreign missionary, but was forced to obey God after getting swallowed by a great fish. He told us the fish later spit him out on the shore on the foreign field where he was supposed to serve. We hung up.
John: Says he is a Baptist, but definitely doesn't dress like one. Loves preaching and camping in the wilderness, has a weird diet, and cannot get along with denominational leaders.
Peter: Too blue collar. Has a bad temper -- even has been known to curse. Had a big public run-in with Paul in Antioch. He is an aggressive, loose cannon.
Paul: Powerful CEO type leader and fascinating preacher. However, short on tact, unforgiving with young ministers, too opinionated and preaches long sermons, once preached all night, which resulted in the death of a young man. We can’t afford to get sued if that happened here.
Jesus: Has had popular years in the past, but once when his church grew to 5,000 he preached a message so offensive that his church dwindled down to the original 12. He moves around a lot and of course, big problem, he's single.
Judas: His references are solid. A steady plodder. Conservative. Good connections. Knows how to handle money. We're inviting him to preach this Sunday. Possibilities here.

Transition- There is one more man that we will look at. It is still Ehud but now he takes on a different role, he quits being the Hit Man and he becomes the Music man.

The Music Man Judge 3:26-30

 And Ehud escaped while they tarried, and passed beyond the quarries, and escaped unto Seirath.  And it came to pass, when he was come, that he blew a trumpet in the mountain of Ephraim, and the children of Israel went down with him from the mount, and he before them.  And he said unto them, Follow after me: for the LORD hath delivered your enemies the Moabites into your hand. And they went down after him, and took the fords of Jordan toward Moab, and suffered not a man to pass over.  And they slew of Moab at that time about ten thousand men, all lusty, and all men of valour; and there escaped not a man.  So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land had rest fourscore years.

Israel’s Hero brings God’s Victory

If Ehud had just killed Eglon and left he would only be a footnote in the Bible, if mentioned at all. The action that makes Ehud a hero is what he does next. After killing Eglon, Ehud escapes to Seirath.  There he blows a trumpet, just like God had told Moses and Joshua to do when the people of Israel needed to come together. Now Ehud sounds the trumpet and the children of Israel come to the battle. They marched down from the mountain where Ehud stood and called them. The then took the fords of Jordan, the same place where Joshua and the children of Israel had passed over 100 years ago. There they wait as Eglon and his confederacy of Ammonites and Amalekites try to flee back to their lands at the only place they can safely cross. The Bible says that day they slew 10,000 Moabites all lusty men of valor. (There’s another word we don’t use much any more, lusty men. Make you think of pirates and that was pretty much what Eglon and his army were.)

Through Ehud’s cunning, valor and leadership Israel has peace for 80 years. During much of that time Ehud would have served as a judge of Israel, guiding it in this very long period of prosperity. This little, sneaky assassin, a minor leader from a minor tribe, who could not even use the proper hand when fighting, was used by God and he was a hero.

Real Heroes Redeem The Time

Ehud would have just been an assassin if he had not picked up that trumpet climbed that mountain and called God’s people to get into the fight. When he took that step, he stepped into history and God used him. I wonder as I think about that, how many times have we might have missed the opportunity to be a hero for God because we didn’t take the last step.

We wait on the sidelines, when God needs someone, like and Ehud, to step forward. We’ve found salvation but we don’t call others to “Psalms 34:8, “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” To often we do what we can, but we don’t encourage others. We get by with the minimum when God needs someone to climb up a mountain and blow a trumpet. I’ll be honest with you I’m not a trumpet blowing guy. I prefer a quiet little harmonica around a campfire instead of trumpet on a mountain.

But there are times when by God’s providence in my life or by His precepts in my Bible, I need to blow a trumpet. I need to get off the sidelines, I need to share the blessings of God in way that may not be in keeping with my character but is in keeping with my calling.

I don’t think Ehud set out that day to be a hero. I think he just was determined to right a wrong, to take an action that he knew he had the opportunity and the means to carry out.  He seized the opportunity and become one of Heaven’s Heroes. Not all brave people become heroes, but all heroes were brave people who acted when given the opportunity.

Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men…
Eccl 9:10 whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…
Ephesians 5:16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Illustration: David “Is There Not a Cause?”

We probably won’t get to David in this series on heroes so let me use him here as our final illustration. When David showed up in the valley of Elah, he wasn’t there as a hero. He was there to bring bread and cheese to his brothers. Yes, when you think of it that way you could make the argument that David was the first pizza delivery boy in history. But David, just like Ehud, knew what was needed that day, he knew what was right and wrong, he knew what God had promised and when told to be quite and shut up cause you’re just a delivery boy, he responded, “Is there not a cause?” Isn’t this the opportunity that the people of God should take? Isn’t this the time and place where God make heroes?


Will you be one of Jehovah’s Heroes?
You don’t need to fit a certain type or mold. You simply must be willing to serve God and do what is right.    You must be willing to redeem the time, seize the opportunity, step off the sidelines and let God use you.

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