Evangelist Eric Burton’s sermon from Shiloh's Lord’s Day Service on August, 25 2019
A Dark Period in the History of Israel
According to our main scripture text, Israel cried out to God and He raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera. This is referring to the period of judges who ruled Israel after the conquest of Canaan prior to the reign of the kings. The period of the judges is characterized by great spiritual and moral corruption in which God’s people did evil in the eyes of the Lord. Secondly, it was a period of repeated sin. Thirdly, it was the darkest period in the history of Israel which lasted for 340 years between 1390 BC thru 1050 BC. The period of judges was a time when everybody did what was right in their own eyes (Judges 21:25). Judges were put in place by God when Israel cried out to God after enduring hardship from both inside and outside the nation (Judges 2:16). They were mostly ordinary people who were flawed, weak, and even morally corrupt. However, when filled with the Holy Spirit; they became mightier than anyone else. They were the saviors of their times who rescued the people from the hands of their enemies. This teaches us that God chooses people with imperfections and weaknesses to save His people and to show them that the true savior and ruler of Israel and His people is not man but God Himself (Isa 43:11).
God uses the weak
Although mankind is weak and frail, God chose and used the weak to rule over Israel during the period of the judges. God raised up Ehud as a deliverer from the tribe of Benjamin; a left-handed man who’s right hand was disabled. Thus, Ehud was not naturally left-handed, but because his right hand was disabled, his left-hand became his primary (Judges 3:15). This disability put Ehud at a disadvantage; however, God chose Ehud over many others who had the use of both left and right hand as a judge over Israel. Ehud in the original Hebrew language means “to unite” or “strong union” therefore, God Chose Ehud because Ehud was united with God. So Ehud lived up to the meaning of his name and was united with God to shame the strong that have turned their backs on God. This teaches us today that when we wholly rely upon Him, our weakness can become instruments through which God’s powers can fully work. (1 Cor 1:27; 2 Cor 12:9-10)
God strengthens our enemies
Prior to raising up Ehud as a judge, Israel had experienced 40 years of peace after being delivered from 8 years of oppression from the King of Mesopotamia (Judges 3:8; 11). God used Judge Othniel to deliver Israel from oppression. However, Israel forgot about their 8 years of suffering under the king of Mesopotamia and did evil in the sight of the Lord. So God raised up and “strengthened” “Eglon,” King of Moab to fight against Israel because of Israel’s repeated sin of doing evil in the sight of the Lord (Judges 3:12). Although God had protected Israel in the past, now He held Moab with His mighty hand and strengthen them, not just with military strength but with mental strength as well to give them courage so that they could fight against Israel (1 Kgs 20:23). After Eglon, King of Moab was strengthened, he made allies with the sons of Ammon and Amalek and together they defeated Israel and served Eglon the king of Moab for 18 years (Judges 3:14). In the past, the sons of Ammon and Moab had been cursed by God and were nations that could not enter the assembly of the Lord (Deu 23:3). And it was said of Amalek, “You shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven” (Deu 25:19). These were nations that Israel had despised, but they lost their most prized land to these nations because God had strengthened them to defeat them. And for 18 years, Israel was slaves to these nations and they endured shame and suffering and offered tributes to them (Judges 3:15). This shows us when God’s people repeatedly took a rebellious path; God punished them by strengthening their enemies. Therefore, let us always worship and trust in God only and defeat our enemies and overcome this world.
Ehud destroys Moab and saved Israel
God who chose Ehud was sent to deliver tribute to the king of Moab as stated in (Jude 3:15). When he arrived – Ehud told all of the king’s people that he had a secret message for the king and sent them away. And then Ehud went to the roof chamber where the king was sitting alone and killed him with a two-edged sword that he had strapped to his right thigh under his cloak (Judge 3:21-22). Afterward, Ehud blew his trumpet and led the sons of Israel who followed him and commanded them to pursue the Moabites, for the Lord has given them into your hands (Judge 3:27-28). Although weak and not having the use of his right hand; Ehud showed great leadership during the deliverance of Israel. First, he led from the front and went into battle himself (Jud 3:27). Secondly, Ehud did not take pleasure in making himself a hero for killing Eglon, the Moab King, but instead, he gathered the strength of the people to drive out the Moabites. This teaches us that when we are doing God’s work, we need to work together as a group rather than trying to do everything on our own. Ultimately, Ehud, along with the sons of Israel, was able to strike down 10,000 Moabites and saved Israel from Moabite oppression (Judges 3:27-29).
Conclusion: As a result of Ehud uniting with God, Israel enjoyed peace for 80 years during Ehud’s 80-year rule which was the longest period of peace enjoyed during the time of the judges (Jud 3:30). Secondly, we are punished by God when we sin; however, if we repent and continue in union with God, and united with God, then God is faithful to sustain us and give us a life of true peace (John 14:27; 15:5).