Yahweh inspired a record of His choices He made, in the book of Judges, because these are characteristics about Himself He wanted us to know. If you struggle believing that, then the rest of this entry will a lot easier to accept, though unexpected. It’s crazy. If you do believe that first sentence, then the rest of this entry may challenge your perception of the One you worship. Both of these are good things, so I encourage you to keep reading.
Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD. And he gathered to himself the sons of Ammon and Amalek; and he went and defeated Israel, and they possessed the city of the palm trees. The sons of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. (Judges 3:12-14 NASB)
The people of Israel sinned, actually committed iniquity. And they did so, again. In response, Yahweh “…strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel,…” Think about that for a second. Yahweh caused Eglon to succeed against Israel, His chosen people. So, Yahweh chose Eglon to punish the people Yahweh chose to adopt. That’s the first choice that should destabilize our comfortable view of our Master. But, let’s continue.
But when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab. Ehud made himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his cloak. (Judges 3:15-16 NASB)
Ehud is “raised up” by Yahweh as a “deliverer”. Whatever commentators want to make of the difference between “deliverer” and “judge”, from the context of this chapter, they clearly mean the same thing in this book. And, this man, chosen by Yahweh, makes a very different sword. It’s not a curved, single-edged sword, it’s a straight, double-edged sword. And Ehud conceals this special weapon as he goes to deliver the tribute of Israel to the king.
The chosen deliverer of Yahweh, with his concealed weapon, delivers the tribute, and leaves…sort of. He didn’t get very far.
It came about when he had finished presenting the tribute, that he sent away the people who had carried the tribute. But he himself turned back from the idols which were at Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” And he said, “Keep silence.” And all who attended him left him. Ehud came to him while he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” And he arose from his seat. Ehud stretched out his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh and thrust it into his belly. The handle also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the refuse came out. (Judges 3:18-22 NASB)
First, consider that this record is inspired, it’s what Yahweh wants us to know about what happened, how He delivers Israel. Second, keep in mind, as you read, this is far more detail than the author normally includes about armed conflict. In fact, it’s shockingly detailed, perhaps disgustingly so. This is, perhaps, the most detailed assassination in all of Scripture, and there are several. So, you have to ask yourself, “why would my Master want me to know this about His choice of Ehud?” You need to explore that question. It’s part of the point of the author, and the inspired point of Yahweh. Remember the first sentence.
Before anyone begins to impugn the courage of Ehud, considering such behavior to be cowardly, keep reading.
Now Ehud escaped while they were delaying, and he passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah. It came about when he had arrived, that he blew the trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he was in front of them. He said to them, “Pursue them, for the LORD has given your enemies the Moabites into your hands.” So they went down after him and seized the fords of the Jordan opposite Moab, and did not allow anyone to cross. They struck down at that time about ten thousand Moabites, all robust and valiant men; and no one escaped. So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land was undisturbed for eighty years. (Judges 3:26-30 NASB)
Ehud escapes the scene of his assassination of the king, but then leads the people from in front. This is another detail not often included by this author. He wants his readers to understand that Ehud was no coward, just as we are to infer the same. Yahweh didn’t choose a coward. He raised up a man who didn’t ask for back up as he defeats this king with his left hand. He was a leader, and a man who did what needed to be done, but did so on his own. Yahweh raised him up. Yahweh delivered His people by the hand of an assassin, someone we might call a “commando” in these days, a “militant spy”.
Before we cast judgement on Ehud, remember he was the chosen of Yahweh. If you don’t like Ehud, then you’re questioning the choice of Yahweh, your Master. Think that through. This Sunday, you will be worshiping One forming stars, making you and I holy, and inspiring assassins. Jesus loves you, and He is not above using people our culture fears and denigrates in His service. If what Ehud did seems “morally wrong” to you, then who’s morals are you using to judge? If Jesus tells Peter, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy” (Acts 10:15), then, perhaps, we need a greater flexibility in regard to the work and choices of our Master.
I don’t advocate assassination to further the Kingdom of God. But I do advocate an honest view of our Master. We’re not securing “territory” any longer. The battles we fight are against spiritual forces of darkness, found in heavenly realms. So, don’t make the mistake of believing we’re not at war, or considering the absence of strife to be achievement in the fight. This is guerrilla warfare, against giants, against the powers and authorities of this dark world. Our Master may call you, and all your weaknesses, fears, and clumsiness. Don’t think He won’t. But don’t be surprised when He calls that annoying brother or sister in the faith either. Such are the choices of Yahweh, our Master.
That’s my view through the fence this morning. What do you see of our Master and His work through your knothole?