First Baptist Church
Wed October 7
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  • Judges 3:1–6 CSB
    1 These are the nations the Lord left in order to test all those in Israel who had experienced none of the wars in Canaan. 2 This was to teach the future generations of the Israelites how to fight in battle, especially those who had not fought before. 3 These nations included the five rulers of the Philistines and all of the Canaanites, the Sidonians, and the Hivites who lived in the Lebanese mountains from Mount Baal-hermon as far as the entrance to Hamath. 4 The Lord left them to test Israel, to determine if they would keep the Lord’s commands he had given their ancestors through Moses. 5 But they settled among the Canaanites, Hethites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 6 The Israelites took their daughters as wives for themselves, gave their own daughters to their sons, and worshiped their gods.
    Alas, instead of trusting God to change their neighbors, the gods of their neighbors changed the Jews;
    the first three judges.

    1. Othniel: the power of God (Jdg. 3:7–11)

    Judges 3:7–8 CSB
    7 The Israelites did what was evil in the Lord’s sight; they forgot the Lord their God and worshiped the Baals and the Asherahs. 8 The Lord’s anger burned against Israel, and he sold them to King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram-naharaim, and the Israelites served him eight years.
    Four times in the Book of Judges we’re told that God “sold” His people to the enemy (2:14; 3:8; 4:2; 10:7; and see 1 Sam. 12:9; 1 Kings 21:20, 25; Ps. 44:12). The Jews acted like slaves, so God sold them like slaves. Had the Jews been faithful to the Lord, He would have sold their enemies into Israel’s hands (Deut. 32:30).
    The name of the King of Mesopotamia means “doubly wicked Cushan,” which may have been a nickname that his enemies gave him. We aren’t told where he invaded Israel, although logically the attack would have come from the north; nor are we told how much of the land he subjugated for those eight painful years. Since the deliverer God raised up was from Judah, it’s possible that the invading army had penetrated that far south in Israel when the Lord decided to intervene on behalf of His suffering people.
    Judges 3:9–11 CSB
    9 The Israelites cried out to the Lord. So the Lord raised up Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s youngest brother, as a deliverer to save the Israelites. 10 The Spirit of the Lord came on him, and he judged Israel. Othniel went out to battle, and the Lord handed over King Cushan-rishathaim of Aram to him, so that Othniel overpowered him. 11 Then the land had peace for forty years, and Othniel son of Kenaz died.
    God’s salvation for His people (vv. 9–11). There’s no evidence that the people repented of their sins when they cried out to God for help, but the Lord responded to their plight and gave them a deliverer. It was the Exodus experience all over again:
    The deliverer He raised up was Othniel, the man who captured Hebron and married Caleb’s daughter (1:10–13). Bible scholars don’t agree as to the exact blood relationship Othniel had to Caleb. Was Othniel Caleb’s nephew—that is, the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother—or was he simply Caleb’s younger brother? As far as the text is concerned, either interpretation is possible.
    When God called Othniel, he was available for the Lord, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon him and empowered him for battle (Jdg. 3:10).
    “ ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit.’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6, NKJV). This was the secret of Othniel’s strength, as it was with Gideon (Jdg. 6:34), Jephthah (11:29) and Samson (14:6, 19; 15:14); and it must be the source of the believer’s power today (Acts 1:8; 2:4; 4:8, 31; Eph. 5:18).
    One of the former directors of The Evangelical Alliance Mission,

    T.J. Bach, said, “The Holy Spirit longs to reveal to you the deeper things of God. He longs to love through you. He longs to work through you. Through the blessed Holy Spirit you may have: strength for every duty, wisdom for every problem, comfort in every sorrow, joy in His overflowing service.”

    Othniel not only rescued his nation from bondage, but also served his people as judge for forty years. This meant that he exercised authority in managing the affairs of the nation, and it was his spiritual and civil leadership that brought rest to the land. Never underestimate the good that one person can do who is filled with the Spirit of God and obedient to the will of God.
    Unlike Moses, who appointed Joshua to lead Israel, the judges didn’t have the authority to name a successor. When God called men and women to serve as judges, they obeyed, did His work, and then passed from the scene. One would hope that their godly influence would make a lasting difference in the spiritual life of the nation, but such wasn’t the case. No sooner was a judge off the scene than the people were back to worshiping Baal and forsaking the Lord.

    2. Ehud: The Left Handed Dude (Jdg. 3:12–30)

    Judges 3:12–14 CSB
    12 The Israelites again did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. He gave King Eglon of Moab power over Israel, because they had done what was evil in the Lord’s sight. 13 After Eglon convinced the Ammonites and the Amalekites to join forces with him, he attacked and defeated Israel and took possession of the City of Palms. 14 The Israelites served King Eglon of Moab eighteen years.
    Eglon, the oppressor (vv. 12–14). The armies of Mesopotamia came a long distance to invade Israel; but the Moabites, Ammonites, and Amalekites were not only neighbors but also relatives of the Jews. Lot, the nephew of Abraham, was the ancestor of Moab and Ammon (Gen. 19:30–38); and Esau, the brother of Jacob, was the ancestor of Amalek (Gen. 36:12, 16; Deut. 25:17, 19).
    Eglon, the King of Moab, organized the confederacy and set up his headquarters at Jericho, “the city of palm trees” (Deut. 34:3). Jericho was under a curse (Josh. 6:26), and there’s no evidence that the city had been rebuilt; but the location was ideal for directing military operations, and there was an abundance of water there. For eighteen years, Eglon and his allies made life miserable for the Jews. It must have been especially galling to them to be under the heels of blood relatives who were also their longtime adversaries.
    Judges 3:15 CSB
    15 Then the Israelites cried out to the Lord, and he raised up Ehud son of Gera, a left-handed Benjaminite, as a deliverer for them. The Israelites sent him with the tribute for King Eglon of Moab.
    Ehud, the deliverer (vv. 15–30). Othniel, the first judge, had come from the tribe of Judah. The second judge, Ehud, a left-handed man, came from Judah’s neighbor, Benjamin—the name “Benjamin” means “son of my right hand.” (The Benjamites were known for their ambidexterity. See Jdg. 20:16 and 1 Chron. 12:2.)
    However, the text of Judges 3:15 can be translated “a man handicapped in the right hand,” which suggests that he was not ambidextrous at all but able to use only his left hand. If that indeed is the meaning of the text, then Ehud’s plan for killing Eglon was a masterpiece of strategy. It’s also a great encouragement to people with physical disabilities who may have the erroneous idea that God can’t use them in His service.
    Judges 3:16–30 CSB
    16 Ehud made himself a double-edged sword eighteen inches long. He strapped it to his right thigh under his clothes 17 and brought the tribute to King Eglon of Moab, who was an extremely fat man. 18 When Ehud had finished presenting the tribute, he dismissed the people who had carried it. 19 At the carved images near Gilgal he returned and said, “King Eglon, I have a secret message for you.” The king said, “Silence!” and all his attendants left him. 20 Then Ehud approached him while he was sitting alone in his upstairs room where it was cool. Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you,” and the king stood up from his throne. 21 Ehud reached with his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh, and plunged it into Eglon’s belly. 22 Even the handle went in after the blade, and Eglon’s fat closed in over it, so that Ehud did not withdraw the sword from his belly. And the waste came out. 23 Ehud escaped by way of the porch, closing and locking the doors of the upstairs room behind him. 24 Ehud was gone when Eglon’s servants came in. They looked and found the doors of the upstairs room locked and thought he was relieving himself in the cool room. 25 The servants waited until they became embarrassed and saw that he had still not opened the doors of the upstairs room. So they took the key and opened the doors—and there was their lord lying dead on the floor! 26 Ehud escaped while the servants waited. He passed the Jordan near the carved images and reached Seirah. 27 After he arrived, he sounded the ram’s horn throughout the hill country of Ephraim. The Israelites came down with him from the hill country, and he became their leader. 28 He told them, “Follow me, because the Lord has handed over your enemies, the Moabites, to you.” So they followed him, captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Moab, and did not allow anyone to cross over. 29 At that time they struck down about ten thousand Moabites, all stout and able-bodied men. Not one of them escaped. 30 Moab became subject to Israel that day, and the land had peace for eighty years.
    Ehud had several problems to solve, and he solved them successfully. At the top of the list was how to gain access to King Eglon without making anybody suspicious. He accomplished this by making himself the leader of the commission that brought the king his annual tribute. The paying of tribute not only added to the king’s wealth, which he would enjoy, but it also acknowledged the king’s authority over Israel; and Eglon would enjoy that as well. Of course, Eglon didn’t know that Ehud was God’s appointed leader to deliver Israel; otherwise, he would have had him killed on sight.
    The second problem was securing a private audience with the king without exciting the distrust of his attendants and guards. Ehud did this first by leaving the king’s presence together with his men after they had done homage to Eglon, and then Ehud coming back later alone as though he had an urgent message for the king. A solitary man with a lame right hand couldn’t be much of a threat to a powerful king, and perhaps this despised Jew really did have a word from his God. Eglon may have felt proud that the God of Israel had a message for him; and since he was no doubt afraid not to listen to it, he dismissed his guards and attendants and gave Ehud a personal interview in his private chambers.
    Since Ehud had to kill Eglon in a way that was quick and quiet and that would catch the king by surprise, he made use of his disability. Ehud made a very sharp dagger and hid it under his clothing on his right side. Even if the guards frisked him, they would most likely examine the left side of his body where most men carried their weapons. Seeing that he was a handicapped man, they probably didn’t examine him at all.
    Even a king must stand to receive a message from God. When Eglon stood, Ehud may have gestured with his right hand to distract him and show him there was nothing in his hand; and then Ehud reached for his dagger and plunged it into the fat king’s body. It must have been a powerful thrust because the point of the dagger came out the king’s back; and Eglon was dead instantly.
    The next problem was how to escape from the palace without getting caught, and this he accomplished by locking the door of the private chamber and delaying the discovery of the corpse. As Ehud hastened away, the attendants concluded that the interview was over; so they went to see if their king wanted anything. The three “behold” statements in verses 24–25 indicate the three surprises that they experienced: the doors were locked, the king didn’t respond to their knocks and calls, and the king was dead. All of this took time and gave Ehud opportunity to escape.
    His final problem was to rally the troops and attack the enemy. The trumpet signal called the men out, and he led them to the fords of the Jordan, assuring them that the Lord had given Moab into their hands. The victory would come by trusting the Lord and not by depending on their own strength. By guarding the fords, the Israelites prevented the Moabites from escaping or from bringing in fresh troops. Since Ephraim was one of the most powerful tribes in Israel, Ehud had excellent soldiers to command. Accordingly, they killed 10,000 of the best Moabite soldiers. Not only was Moab defeated, but also the tables were turned and the Moabites became subject to Israel. We assume that Moab’s defeat was the signal for their allies Ammon and Amalek to leave the field of battle.
    If the Jews had been asked to vote on a leader, Ehud probably would have lost on the first ballot. But he was God’s choice, and God used him to set the nation free. Moses was slow of speech and Paul was not imposing in his appearance, but Moses and Paul, like Ehud, were men of faith who led others to victory. Ehud turned a disability into a possibility because he depended on the Lord.

    3. Shamgar: persistent courage (Jdg. 3:31)

    Judges 3:31 CSB
    31 After Ehud, Shamgar son of Anath became judge. He also delivered Israel, striking down six hundred Philistines with a cattle prod.
    Only one verse is devoted to Shamgar and it isn’t even stated that he was a judge. Judges 5:6–7 indicates that he was contemporary with Deborah and Barak. “Son of Anath” may mean that he was from the town of Beth Anath in Naphtali (1:33), which was also the tribe Barak came from (4:6; see 5:18).
    What was significant about Shamgar was the weapon that he used. An ox goad was a strong pole about eight feet long. At one end was a sharp metal point for prodding the oxen and at the other end a spade for cleaning the dirt off the plow. It was the closest thing Shamgar could find to a spear because the enemy had confiscated the weapons of the Israelites (5:8; see 1 Sam. 13:19–22).
    Here was a man who obeyed God and defeated the enemy even though his resources were limited. Instead of complaining about not possessing a sword or spear, Shamgar gave what he had to the Lord, and the Lord used it. Joseph Parker said, “What is a feeble instrument in the hands of one man is a mighty instrument in the hands of another, simply because the spirit of that other burns with holy determination to accomplish the work that has to be done.” Shamgar may have killed all 600 Philistines at one time in one place (see 2 Sam. 8:8–12), but it’s also possible that 600 is a cumulative total. An ox goad would be an unwieldy weapon to use if 600 soldiers had attacked Shamgar at one time. Since we don’t know the details, we must not speculate. It’s just encouraging to know that God enabled him to overcome the enemy though his resources were limited.
    The few words that are recorded about Shamgar give me the impression that he was a man of persistent courage, which, of course was born out of his faith in the Lord. To stand his ground against the enemy, having only a farmer’s tool instead of a soldier’s full military equipment, marks Shamgar out as a brave man with steadfast courage.
    Charles Spurgeon once gave a lecture at his Pastor’s College entitled “To Workers with Slender Apparatus.”

    “Give whatever tools you have to the Lord, stand your ground courageously, and trust God to use what’s in your hand to accomplish great things for His glory.”

    E.M. Bounds,

    “the world is looking for better methods, but God is looking for better men and women who understand the basics: the power of the Holy Spirit, wise strategy, and steadfast courage.”

    Next Week Judges 4-5

      • Judges 3CSB

      • Judges 3:1–6CSB

      • Judges 3:7–8CSB

      • Judges 3:9–11CSB

      • Judges 3:12–14CSB

      • Judges 3:15CSB

      • Judges 3:16–30CSB

      • Judges 3:31CSB

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